Voting for another Liberal minority might make us queasy, but the alternative would surely embarrass us to death

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It’s now well into the first week of January, and most of the world has recovered from any lingering effects of a New Year’s hangover. Here in Canada, though, the pounding headaches and nausea will last 2.5 more weeks.

Hanging over us is the Jan. 23 federal election, which means an endless barrage of polls and negative advertising. (Oh the pain, the pain!) In the end, we’ll likely end up with another Liberal minority propped up by the NDP, which is where we started.

Still, the unthinkable could happen. If voters are angry enough at the government and sucked in by the kinder, gentler media image of Stephen Harper, we could end up electing a full-blown U.S.-Israeli proxy government that would reduce Canadian political independence to a joke–”more so.

According to the latest Strategic Council poll, the Liberals have 33 percent of decided voters, the Harper Party, also known as the CRAZY (Christian Reactionary and American Zionist Yahoo) Party has 31, and the NDP has 17. This represents no change from Dec. 3, but a drop from Nov. 1, when the percentages were 40, 28 and 15, respectively.

In the spirit of “know your enemy” and full electoral disclosure, allow me to present a short primer on Stephen Harper, the man who would be Bush’s viceroy to Canada.

Harper’s political and professional career consists almost entirely of being a charter member of the Reform (now CRAZY) Party and a high-level apparatchik of the grossly misnamed National Citizens Coalition–”a clique of ideologues who worship at the alter of radical individualism and unenlightened self interest.

Harper and other NCC econo-theologians believe that Christian morality supersedes the Constitution, U.S. militarism should be our militarism, and that every dollar spent on social programs is a dollar wasted. If that sounds like the same sort of anti-intellectual claptrap you’d expect to hear from Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush, you’d be right. Harper and his ilk are joined at the hip to the same strain of corrosive selfishness that is eviscerating the U.S. Republic.

On paper, Harper has a B.A. in Economics from the University of Calgary, but given his bizarre pronouncements on this and other subjects, it’s clear that his intellectual capital hasn’t earned any interest. In fact, Harper brings no appreciable skills to public office. All he has is a neo-con, Christian parochialism that makes most Canadians recoil.

Yet contrary to all logic, many now believe Harper and his party are a credible governing alternative. Globe and Mail columnist Lawrence Martin has ascribed Harper’s decreased unacceptability to smiling and to a press more interested in pounding the daylights out of Martin than in holding Harper accountable for his, um… inconsistencies.

For those of you still thinking about voting CRAZY, here are two instances of Harper on the record:

HEALTH CARE

  • “It’s past time the feds scrapped the Canada Health Act.” (As vice-president of the National Citizens Coalition, 1997.)
  • “We also support the exploration of alternative ways to deliver health care. Moving toward alternatives, including those provided by the private sector, is a natural development of our health care system.” ( Toronto Star, October 2002)

The NCC was founded in 1967 specifically to oppose public health care, and since the late 1980s has had a cozy relationship with the Reform/CRAZY Party. Harper is a product of this groupthink, so his statements are at least consistent. Yet, on the Party’s website (Dec. 2, 2005) Harper now says:

  • “There will be no private, parallel system…We can and will achieve better results for patients and maintain the essentials of our system of public health insurance while maintaining our universal public health care system.”

What could account for such an abdication of principle? Voters might look at this change as a sign of growth, but if Harper can so easily betray a core belief like abolishing public heath care, what does that say about his party’s grasp of government? How many other wacko NCC policy positions will he have to repudiate just to be electable?

MILITARY POLICY

  • “I don’t know all the facts on Iraq, but I think we should work closely with the Americans.” (Report Newsmagazine (defunct), March 25, 2002.)
  • “This government’s only explanation for not standing behind our allies is that they couldn’t get the approval of the Security Council at the United Nations–”a body [on] which Canada doesn’t even have a seat.” (CTV’s Question Period, March 30, 2003.)
  • “It was about putting pressure on Saddam to comply with UN resolutions and I continue to believe if allies had acted in a concerted measure to put that pressure, we could have avoided a war. But we didn’t do that,” ( CTVNews, June 9, 2004.)

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want a Prime Minister to profess ignorance and then tell the world the U.S. will make our military decisions for us. The sad thing is, Harper’s response was honest. The CRAZY party would defer to the U.S. on major matters of national security, even though Washington is run by a gang of warmongering sociopaths.

Regarding the United Nations, it appears Harper hasn’t read the Defence Act, which stipulates that Canada will send troops into combat only under the auspices of the UN or NATO. The less said about his embarrassing attempt to extricate his foot from his mouth the better.

Harper has also said he would put the issue of same-sex marriage to a free vote in the House, oblivious to the fact that equality rights are entrenched in the Constitution. Do I sense another embarrassing about-face coming?

Until this country has a genuine Conservative Party, the best we can hope for is a minority Liberal government kept in check by the NDP. Assuming that Harper and his populist posse did form government, they’d spend so much time in damage control that they’d have no time to govern.

Therefore, dear voter, I ask that you not to subject Canada to such ignominy. Instead, vote for the best candidate of any other party, and hope for the best.

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