Harper's attempted attack against Liberal Jean Chrétien’s vote subsidy was just the start of it but when you think about what it would have meant to Canada the timing could not have been worse. The original point of this subsidy was to limit the influence of corporations and unions on government policy because they were essentially prohibited from making big donations. When these kinds of wealthy institutions get their hooks in we start seeing all kinds of signature legislation being lobbied like, for example, deregulation of banks.
In a time when the world is reeling from the results of such policies Harper thought it wise to get that ball rolling again in Canada. Did he not see how illogical that was? Was he so blinded by the short term wounds his political enemies would have suffered that he didn't see this policy to be the opposite of what all Canadians were hoping for?
That is a leadership test that he, Steven Harper the man, failed miserably and that's a serious problem because leadership should be his priority. He should not his party's attack dog, he has a country on the verge of crisis to run.
You can say what you want about the coalition but it happened and that in itself shows a willingness for three of the four parties to work together and unify, an act that completely caught Harper off guard. It's not just that our Prime Minister can't do this himself, he can't even envision it happening under any circumstances amongst his peers. What is a man so unprepared in this way doing running a minority government? Our whole country needs to ask itself this question.
What the coalition did do is bring about the most shocking turn yet, a descent into divisiveness that only Sarah Palin could be proud of. Desperation caused our country's leader to malign a huge swath of our citizenry and in a televised address he created an 'us' versus 'them' paradigm where days ago none existed. It's obvious now that Harper's civility towards people who think differently than him is a thin veneer. There are apparently 'real' Canadians and others who are foreigners in all but name who have no place forming a coalition against HIM.
The Bloc may indeed want sovereignty, albeit privately these days, but they are still Canadian citizens, today, and mostly likely tomorrow too. They have a say in our collective destiny. They are not second class citizens and their involvement in any Canadian process should not be held up as suspect or vaguely labelled as dangerous. Any attempt to do so, as Mr. Harper did, should be appalling to all Canadians.
The last thing Canada needs is a leader who will gladly stoke these flames of disunity, where one half of our country is seething at the other half. Did America's latest string of elections teach both him and us nothing?
Harper's legacy is that he lead the Conservatives back in force on the national stage. That's a notable accomplishment that all die-hard Conservatives and Western Canadians who support the party can be proud of. Even they however have to see that he has to step down now for the good of the country. Being a Prime Minister is bigger than his vindictive agenda, he's clearly ignoring that, and in doing so demonstrates that he is unfit to lead. So long as he remains in power the divide will grow.
That there is no clear alternative does not excuse his deep and dangerous unwillingness to rise to the occasion that the times require of him. At least with a coalition the spirit and guiding principles of a minority government; of working together despite differences of opinion, would remain intact.
THAT is the government we voted into office.
I support the Governor General's decision to prorogue Parliament however. Harper will eventually have to answer for his actions but in the mean time Her Excellency is giving a chance for tempers to cool off and for both sides of this issue to come up with measured responses. Hopefully out of this break some true leadership will emerge.