Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Harper's fear of losing, projected onto voters, as election strategy

By James Travers, Toronto Star, December 14, 2010
Fear is always a powerful political force. In times as nervous as these it becomes the next best thing to a doomsday weapon.

Conservatives want Canadians to be very afraid as the next election creeps closer. Criminals at the door, Russians probing Arctic sovereignty and prying statisticians poking through family secrets are strands in a rope Stephen Harper wants voters to loop around the neck of nanny-state Liberals, the socialist NDP and separatist Bloc.
Never mind the absence of evidence that packing prisons makes citizens safer, that spending at least $16 billion on cold war stealth fighters is a national defence priority or that vandalizing the census is anything other than a feel-good placebo with sickening side effects. Clinging to federal power is now an exercise in appealing to the gut, not the brain.
If nothing else, that helps explain another loudly shouted Conservative warning. High on this capital’s list of preferred bogeymen is the spectral threat of a post-election coalition
If Canada needs any other reason to throw the Haper Conservatives out, I don't know which reason would trump this one.
Appealing to the voters' fear is the classic appeal of the Republican party in the U.S., and Harper has merely plagiarized that page of the Republican play book. Only, Harper has added his own Canadian objects of fear.
And, generalized fear stocks all lands these days, making it feasible that appealing to that cloud of undirected yet never minimized fear is more likely to produce votes that to promise rainbows and pots of gold.
Nevertheless, there is room for an opposition party, in this case, the Liberals, to catch the faint breeze of confidence that Canadians can feel (albeit it of Arctic temperatures this week!) in the economy, and in the potential to reach different decisions on policy than those trotted out by the Conservatives.
  • We do not need more prisons, for offenders who have yet to be reported.
  • We do not need 65 F35 fighter jets, when poverty, homeless and illness are growing exponentially
  • We do not need to fight a "phantom war" over the Arctic with anyone, certainly not the U.S. or the Russians.
  • We need not fear a coalition of the "willing" if the N.D.P. and the Liberals win enough  seats together to form a government, although even a Liberal minority would be much more preferable
  • We do not need to have our border security run by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security
  • We do not need more government subsidies to the tar sands, without any government plan to curb greenhouse gases and global warming (the Conservative government's take on the environment: now there is something really frightening!)
  • We do need more light rail rapid transit, and not more cars in our high-density urban areas, along with more bike paths and hiking trails
  • We do need a sustainable health care act that provides consistent and full access for all, in all regions of the country, based not on the number of patients a doctor "sees" but on the overall health of the doctor's patients, as disclosed by their hospital, laboratory and other medical service applications
  • We do need a budget that strikes out the Fighter Jets and replaces them with an enhanced social assistance initiative that is clear, comprehensive, comprehensible and targetted for individual job attainment
  • We also need a government that listens to the Canadian people, not only to the  lobbyists and the paid party pollsters, of the Conservative party
  • And we do not need to fear Mr. Harper's projections of his own fear, you know, the fear of losing power though the many defaults and missteps of his five years of governing, onto the voters..we are just not that innocent and gullible!  

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