I make no pretense to having any expertise in Canadian politics. I do, however, know more than most Americans. But I’d somehow missed all the stories comparing Prime Minister Stephen Harper to the man I love to hate, Richard M. Nixon:
What a long, strange slide it has been for Canada since 2006, when Stephen Harper became prime minister. You thought you saw the last of Richard Nixon when he helicoptered off the White House’s South Lawn. Wrong: the man had a clone. And that clone must have been watching a lot of Sarah Palin speeches. Harper is Nixon without the charm, he’s Nixon without the progressive social and environmental programs, he’s Nixon but he worships at a fundamentalist church. If he wins reelection in October, Americans might want to consider a northern wall.
Canada once had what was semi-seriously known as a natural governing party, the Liberals, who were famously led in the Nixon era by Pierre Elliott Trudeau, an international-minded intellectual and devoted federalist. (Trudeau’s son Justin now leads the Liberal Party and is the political rival Harper hates most.) In the Canada most Americans grew up next to, the Liberals ran the show. They were reasonable people who believed in consensus and generosity, bilingualism and multiculturalism, free national health care, women’s rights, and an unofficial national slogan, “Peace, order, and good government.”
Harper, meanwhile, is a vengeful, damaged, grudge-holding punisher of the “urban elites” who vote Liberal, and has spent a lifetime plotting to transform Canada into a nastier version of Texas. He and his allies took what was once called the Progressive Conservative Party (filled with Red Tories, akin to the long-gone Rockefeller Republicans of America’s eastern seaboard), merged it with a nightmarish pressure group of government haters called the Canadian Conservative Reform Alliance Party (they realized too late that the acronym would be CCRAP), and created the modern Conservative Party.
Nixon had charm? Who knew? A brief correction: any progressive programs Tricky Dick had were not of his doing but due to Congressional Democrats such as Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin. Kids today.
Otherwise this is a good magazine piece, but it’s behind the polling curve as it now looks as if the center-left Liberals are poised to win the election. Here’s hoping that the Canadian polls are more accurate than those in Israel and the United Kingdom.
Here are a few Harper-Nixon images that tickle my fancy:
John Oliver did a swell segment last night about the Canadian election wherein he said:
“Canada is America’s next-door neighbor, and Stephen Harper is her dickhead boyfriend. You know, the one she won’t split up with despite the fact that he tells her what to wear and makes her listen to his shitty, shitty band.”
Here’s the piece complete with a guest appearance by Mike Myers as a Mountie:
Finally, Dr. A is dodging the Canadian election returns bullet until *after* our krewe meeting. We’re picking our theme tonight and I couldn’t miss that even to <knock on wood> watch Harper go down.