Disturbing trends in Canadian Politics

Doing politics differently has taken on a whole new meaning with the Conservative Party of Canada.  While he was still in opposition, Stephen Harper said, “Give me five years, and you won’t recognize Canada.”  While it might not have seemed ominous at the time, recent events show he was quite serious and one thing changing is the way we campaign in Canada.

Recent Conservative campaigns offer a glimpse of what Mr. Harper may have meant.  They employed a mean-spirited tone which revolved around divisive wedge issues and tried to find support based on what voters did not like. This kind of politics is cynical, but fair.  It also lets a party win without explaining much of their plans on issues that are often more wide-reaching and important 

More disturbing are the dirty tricks that are becoming all too common for the Conservatives.    They broke election laws by overspending in 2006 – the year they took power in a minority win.  Once charged by Elections Canada, they fought it tooth and nail, only to give up and plead guilty when the electoral cycle gave them enough time for voters to probably forget all about it.

As problematic as that might be, it is somewhat understandable that they wanted to manipulate circumstances as best they could.  Their lack of remorse is predictable, but the meddling that the Conservatives now freely admit to undertaking in Liberal MP, Irwin Cotler’s Montreal constituency shows they have no moral compass to regulate their desires.

In case you haven’t heard about this, the Conservatives have been phoning into Mr. Cotler’s riding and asking people who they would like to support in the by-election that will take place now that he has resigned.  The problem is he hasn’t resigned.  It is deceitful and may be an abuse of that MP’s privilege in the House of Commons.   The speaker will rule on that in the future.    More to the point, is this the kind of politics we are going to be seeing more of in Canada?  Sadly, it would seem so. 

The Conservatives are now engaged in a permanent election based on narrow talking points, dismissive contempt for dissenting opinions, deceitful strategies and, in my opinion, a lack of respect for the voters and democratic institutions of Canada.  

How much the Conservatives wish to change Canada is anyone’s guess.  Recently, one of their MPs stood in the House of Commons and scolded the opposition for not respecting Canada’s motto of ‘Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness’ which is actually American.  The Canadian version is ‘Peace Order and Good Government’ all of which have been eluding the Conservatives in this parliament.