Why we should re-elect Harper

Richard Gwyn
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It has been said that once you reach 80 years old you can get away with saying anything you like (not least because no one any longer pays attention to anything you say).

Even though still a few months short of the four-score mark, let me test that theory by uttering the most outrageous statement it is possible to utter in this country at this time, let alone to flourish it in everyone’s faces in a column in a newspaper.

This heretical proposition is that a good case can be made that the best result for Canadians and for Canada in the election due in 2015 would be the re-election of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Having just offended almost all my personal friends and colleagues and, far more serious, enraged an overwhelming majority of readers, let me admit hastily that defects in this proposition are easy to enumerate.

Harper is probably the least popular prime minister we’ve ever had but for R.B. Bennett in the 1930s, although what Canadians really hated then was the Depression more than the prime minister of the day.

Harper is today’s R.B. Bennett. But in Harper’s case, the culprit is his character rather than his actions (even the Senate scandal, while it has deeply shocked the public, is in itself not that big a deal).

Put bluntly, even cruelly, almost no one likes Harper. He’s seen widely as mean, insensitive, crassly partisan.

He’s seen by many, that is to say, as un-Canadian, or not in the way most Canadians see themselves and want their leader to be.

Some of this is unfair. Harper happens to be an introvert while today, success in politics depends on an ability to persuade voters that you really do, really and truly, “feel their pain.”

Never search in politics for fairness or for logic. A substantial part of Canada’s current economic success, certainly so in comparison to all but a handful of other industrial democracies, is due to Paul Martin Jr. for his mid-1990s overhaul of our then out-of-control finances: Martin’s reward for that accomplishment was to be immediately heaved out of office - by Harper.

So why re-elect a prime minister whom even many among the dwindling number of Conservatives who still support him now do so because they themselves are rock-ribbed, bitter-ender conservatives rather than because of him?

The very fact so many Canadians dislike Harper is the very reason why he may now be the right man in the right place.

That is, at this point we may be better off having a son-of-a-bitch running the show rather than a caring, sharing charmer.

Economically we’re at present as well off, relatively speaking at least, as it gets. But after every rise, comes a fall.

Our omens are no longer favourable. We’re losing industries in the most painful way — watching them cross the border. Our oil and gas boom is being overshadowed by the far larger American energy boom.

For a long time, much of our economic growth has been in the public sector. The 6,000 jobs due to be shaved from the Post Office is a sign of what lies ahead. Our universities cannot continue educating young people for jobs, as in the humanities, that simply don’t exist.

Who better to get the nasty but necessary reforms and belt-tightening done than someone everyone loves to hate?

We’ll all be grumpy as hell while these corrections were being imposed but we would be able to vent our rage and pain upon an individual rather than upon each other.

An obvious flaw in my proposition is that Harper may pre-empt it by deciding to hell with the job and the ungrateful voters, and quit before the next election.

A way to keep him there does occur to me. Rather than trying to be nice and one of the guys, Harper should recast himself as one of the most successful of current TV characters. He is the grumpy, insensitive, truth-telling Doctor Martin.

Anyway, even if you do reject everything I’ve said in this column, as most will, do catch the next episode of Doc Martin.

Organizations: Post Office

Geographic location: Canada

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Recent comments

  • david
    January 10, 2014 - 16:25

    The fact that Danny Williams remains the illegitimate, unchallenged leader of this place, and that his petty little grudges still resonate like Commandments with his disciples, really says it all. We deserve to be what we are. It is simply our sad, sad destiny.

  • One nut in a parfait
    January 09, 2014 - 21:52

    The myopic vision of losing jobs across the border, oil boom, etc. needs a revamping in this country, leverage technology, etc. chris hadfield, etc, buckmaster fuller, etc, I won't be grumpy as hell if Harper stays in, it is, as the man says, not logical or anything. Bush II, Trudeau II, fire in Ben Mulrooney as PM. Strong jaw. What is Canada? A good laugh to a silly bayman. I go to Ottawa and see it sometimes, it's cool, it's sad, it is not my reality. Seems to be that the worst Harper has done is refashion the Canadian Palamentary process to resemble the South Park movie version. He headlined the reformnation, like poor depressed introvert Puritan Oliver Cromwell, did the dirty work of the crown, he will not have to suffer the indignity of a exhumation for execution after King Justinian get in at least,we are now so civilized. It is not clear grits or God, King and country. It is mercenary, using Jesus and terrorists and global warming and rolling blackouts, and surging brownouts, petty crime and whatever else to justify control and sale to the highest bidder. What is history? How many score years will these comments last, or the original article even, online? Is FINTIP a part of history, or just fleeting, and the column, history? Are we wasting out time, down on all fours, barking politics with so much to be improved? There is a payday still to worry about at 80, this is a problem in this country. Not the problem of living longer, but sacrificing integrity for money into the zenith years in the gauche John Crosbie fashion, grumpy truth telling for oil. Ha.ha. Ha. Byzantium old scruff dogs, put them outside, they stink of rolling and revelling in dead models and tired worldviews, turn the hose on, blast the mange from their fur, dirty old brutes! go lie down. They will not lie down, they have to eat. Remember this friends, babies and old dogs must eat. Not work for wages making joe fresh and whatever sour pill this old bunkpage is. Disclaimer: I just like to laugh at my own writing, how foolish I can get on, have a lovely weekend everyone.

  • FINTIP
    January 09, 2014 - 11:16

    Mr. Gwyn has officially joined the small, dedicated core of media apologists and sycophants for extreme right wing government. The fact that some of these SUN/FOX friendly characters have a strong Newfoundland connection is not only disappointing but embarrassing. To say that Gwyn's column embodies a cynical, backward, materialistic outlook on life is an understatement. Next perhaps he'll fall in behind Conrad Black, Christie Blatchford and our very own Rex Murphy in arguing that Rob Ford should be re-elected mayor of Toronto because - whatever else his failings - he is sympathetic to the plight of the rich. Oddly Gwyn acknowledges what independent analysts have always known - that it was Martin and not Harper that did all the hard lifting to reverse the huge deficits run up under Mulrooney. Indeed Harper has since managed to flit away all of the surplus he inherited from Martin and run up his own sizeable deficit. Gwyn also ignores Harper's great campaign for deregulation of Canada's banking sector which, had he succeeded, would have added Canada's chartered banks to the meltdown of the international financial community. Gwyn does acknowledge that Harper is intensely disliked - and for good reason - but that we should hold our nose and re-elect him anyway. Apparently it doesn't matter to Gwyn that he is without doubt the most undemocratic prime minister we have ever had in this country, that he has manipulated parliament in ways that would make our founding fathers roll over in their graves, and that - given half a chance - he would gladly see Canada revert to a nineteen century model of regional, economic and social inequity. Bad enough that Gwyn would see us return a Putinesque autocrat to power in the interest of the almighty dollar, but worse that he fails to understand that a continuation of the Harper Government (as Harper himself insisted the Government of Canada be renamed) is a recipe for economic ruin. Gwyn is among the small, dwindling segment of society that (whether through ignorance or opportunism) falsely attributes our relatively sound economic status to Harper's management. Such an assertion is no more true in Canada than it is here in Newfoundland. The truth is that for much of the post war period, petrodollars have allowed even badly managed jurisdictions to prosper. But as current trends and energy projections so well illustrate, that proposition is no longer tenable. To paraphrase the now famous and oft-repeated line from Paper Chase, if Canada and its oil driven provinces are to succeed in the 21st century emerging economy, they're going to have to earn it. To date, neither Harper nor his Newfoundland knock-off, Kathy Dunderdale, have shown any inclination or capacity to do so.

    • david
      January 09, 2014 - 13:23

      Hope you got a lot out of writing whatever you did.....because your the only one who might.

    • Elliott G. Wilson
      January 09, 2014 - 15:23

      Excellent post but I agree with david that it's not for everyone. Perhaps david should go back to reading the Newfoundland Herald.

    • david
      January 09, 2014 - 17:41

      Well "Elliot G." (heaven forbid you be mistaken for a less notable Wilson!), if you enjoy reading manifestos, knock yourself out. But anyone who considers the Telegram to have some sort of journalistic superiority over the 'lowly' Herald? That's pretty funny, Newfie snobbery...who knew?

    • Ed Power
      January 10, 2014 - 04:24

      I did read it, David, and I did get a lot out of it. It you want read something lighter in the way of a comment, try Wild Rose. His posts are fact-free and helium-filled....

  • Wild Rose
    January 09, 2014 - 11:00

    Harper is the finest prime minsiter we ever had. Hes got rid of the gun registry and made it harder for refuges to come and push thier agendas on us and fought the war against terrorism and made us proude to be Canadians again. And hes taking on the unions who want everything. I work hard for what I have and am sick of paying taxes for people to drink beer that don't work hard like me.

    • the oil drum guy from come by chance
      January 09, 2014 - 13:43

      It's true, I make $247.89 per hour. Double time for weekends and evenings. I drink 3 dozen cases of blue star per 48 hour period. I come from Nigeria, where I phone scamed enough money to buy a passage to come by chance in an oil drum., with my guns of course. I am shop steward and treasurer. I defer taxes with my heritage foundation. My job is very slack. Sometimes, naps make sense. I have many times for intersurfing the web net. Thank you Wild Rose for generous wishes and taxes for me family man! bless you man! Be strong in your work and proud of your happy country, I hope to be citizen someday like you!

    • Ed Power
      January 09, 2014 - 15:30

      Thank you for that glowing review on your government, Stephen "Wild Rose" Harper....

    • david
      January 09, 2014 - 16:01

      I'll bet you're out of Blue Star now.

    • Kev
      January 12, 2014 - 12:15

      I was never ashamed to be Canadian. Why were you?

  • Steve
    January 09, 2014 - 09:35

    It's also been said that there's no fool like an old fool. Harper cuts taxes and then says he's got no money, we go into deficit while cutting the GST. Is that good management?

    • david
      January 09, 2014 - 10:44

      Yes, Steve...Harper invented that move. First time it was ever seen. Are you new to this whole adulthood/voting thing? As for the "old fool" bit.....I'll bet we're all about to find out what a 'young fool' is like. Let's just hope and pray that his stated admiration for communist China's government's "deftness" isn't as brutal on Newfoundland.

    • saelcove
      January 09, 2014 - 10:59

      Guess you have not been keeping up with latest news but that is understandable