Harper’s Agenda Must be Stopped by Liberals, NDP and Bloc
Murray Dobbin - October 22, 2008
Was the federal election just a bad dream? After five weeks of fear and loathing, disappointment and disbelief, Canadians woke up to election results that were hardly different than when the election started. Most of the commentary since has been about numbers and pro-Harper media spin. The man who is claiming a new “enhanced” mandate actually received 168,737 fewer votes than last time but garnered an additional 19 seats. The turnout, at 59 per cent, was the lowest in our history, which means that the Harper Conservatives will govern the country with the support of fewer than 23 per cent of the eligible voters. Democracy in Canada has seldom seemed so corrupted or so unrepresentative.
For many of the 62 per cent who voted against Harper and his unhidden agenda, there has been an outpouring of demands for a coalition government of the Liberals, NDP and Bloc to form a minority government as soon as they can conceivably bring down the Harper government.
The movement for proportional representation suddenly has thousands of new recruits and supporters as Fair Vote Canada’s website is being flooded with visitors and its petition has been sent out through hundreds of individual e-mail lists.
Those of us on the left can be enraged by Harper’s win, but we should not be surprised. The political right has been working for this result for some 20 years with a campaign deliberately aimed at lowering Canadians’ expectations of what is possible from government, and hence elections. The campaign to give democracy a cold shower actually started with the 1975 publication of a book called The Crisis of Democracy. Put out by the Trilateral Commission, the most powerful elite group in the world at the time, it concluded that there was an “excess of democracy.” The authors lamented that the public now questioned “the legitimacy of hierarchy, coercion, discipline, secrecy, and deception — all of which are in some measure inescapable attributes of the process of government.” A governable democracy, the American co-author Samuel P. Huntington wrote, requires a large degree of “apathy and non-involvement.” That they now have it is no accident.