Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Harper and Iggy in 2011

Saw a traffic spike to an old piece of mine on Ignatieff from 2006. So I re-read it. And one paragraph seemed more relevant than any other...though perhaps not the one the linkers intended.

That's not to say he'd be a worse Prime Minister than Stephen Harper, of course. Stephen Harper is a zealous market fundamentalist; a neoconservative exploiting a base of social conservatives to gain the kind of autocratic power that only a Canadian Prime Minister at the head of a majority government can enjoy. We've already seen that he wants to control the government from his own desk, and the only check on his ambitions is the reality that he only controls a minority government. That's why every single thing he's done since the end of January has been turned towards winning that majority; from budgetmaking, to speechmaking, to muzzling his ministers, all of it is aimed at gaining power. Nobody knows what Harper would do with that power, but I imagine it would be to do his damnedest to remake Canada in the image of Howard's Australia and Thatcher's England. Needless to say, anybody would prefer Ignatieff to THAT.
I actually think Ignatieff has changed. I still prefer Dion or Rae to Ignatieff, but "Iggy" has moderated his tone, and has handed off the lead on foreign policy to Bob Rae.

Meanwhile, if anything, Stephen Harper has become worse. He seems to be working hard to become the most autocratic leader of any democracy in the english-speaking world. He cows his party and the public service at the same time, and lies with impunity only when he can't simply ignore you. A Harper majority would be disastrous, and the only reason anybody could possibly think otherwise is that much of Canada's media is so bizarrely right-wing—compared to the public—that they seem to welcome the prospect of a Thatcherite Canada.

Just to be clear, and I'm saying this as a once-strident Ignatieff critic: Given the choice between Ignatieff and Harper, I'd choose Ignatieff in a flash.

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