Harper and the ghost of Ronald Reagan
Sometimes I feel as if Stephen Harper is the American fifth column looking to disrupt traditional Canadian notions of collective caring. Hmmmm. It’s like a legacy of Ronald Reagan in the form of a Canadian tory politician.
Stephen Harper is a guy who seems to like military interventions (Afghanistan, Libya), takes much political support from the intolerant Christian right-wing and their anti-choice stance, unconditionally supports Israel, as if the Palestinians didn’t really deserve human and sovereign rights (views Israel’s occupation and military killings in the Gaza as justified) and stoops to secrecy in the name of national security (the recent contempt of parliament).
He is the Canadian flag-bearer of the Reagan ideology of viewing government and collective rights as a hinderance to the slogans of ‘freedom, democracy and personal wealth’. In the Reagan/Harper world, the environment is one of those side issues that should not disrupt our lifestyle or patterns of consumption. The massive support for the tar sands (now being rebranded as the ‘ethical’ and ‘green’ oilsands) and the earlier rejection of Kyoto Agreement is but part of Harper’s ‘environmental agenda that continues to put profit before humanity.
Ronald Reagan’s economic vision of the world was the ‘trickle-down effect’ of deregulation, privatization and tax reduction; everyone would become wealthier if we could only let that entrepreneurial spirit of competitive capitalism save us. In Canada, the consequence of such an economic policy has been the inevitable intentional reduction in government revenues and the burgeoning of public debt. This has acted as the strawman for reducing and reduced social services because we can no longer afford them and besides, people are just ripping off welfare. This is the essential Harper economic vision both in theory and practice.
Lastly (and only because I need to go have breakfast), Reagan had an incredible ability to deflect criticism but never really engaging with it. It was never about accepting or recognizing criticism. Remember Contra-Gate where he secretly sold arms to Iran to pay for the secret war against the Sandanista government in Nicaragua? Amazingly, Harper can prorogue parliament—a first since 1923—and somehow still call himself a democratic leader.
Perhaps, in part due to his early stages of Alzheimer’s, Reagan kept repeating his mantra embodying the politics of fear, strength, protection and corporate ally. Harper doesn’t seemingly have a degenerative neurological disease but his mantra remains eerily reminiscent of Reagan.