Saturday, April 26, 2008

When they start comparing you to Nixon...

Well this is a nifty overview of the relationship between Harper and the Canadian institutions he loves to hate. Do yourselves a favour and have a gander over at this piece in the Guardian, "The Canadian Nixon," where the UK and the world over are being introduced to our PM's character and ways (h/t Runesmith's Canadian Content):
Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper is in trouble with Elections Canada, the government body that runs the vote in Canada. They've accused him of overspending in the last election and have even gotten the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to raid the Conservative party's headquarters to find incriminating evidence. In response Harper and his followers have lashed out against Elections Canada, accusing it of a partisan witch hunt.

The whole sorry situation shouldn't surprise anyone who has paid attention. Every prime minister has a modus operandi. Harper's is his utter contempt, shown not once but many times, for Canadian institutions. In fact, it is not a stretch to say that Harper simply sees many Canadian institutions - Elections Canada being simply his latest target - as illegitimate, not just in need of reform but worth attacking root-and-branch.

The historian Garry Wills once observed that Richard Nixon wanted to be president not to govern the nation but to undermine the government. The Nixon presidency was one long counterinsurgency campaign against key American institutions like the courts, the FBI, the state department and the CIA. Harper has the same basic approach to politics: attack not just political foes but the very institutions that make governing possible. The state for Nixon and Harper exists not as an instrument of policy making but as an alien force to be subdued.

Canadians have never had a prime minister who has literally made his career attacking and undermining the legitimacy of Canadian institutions.

Until now.
These authors aren't the only ones to use the Nixon comparison, Ken Dryden's been on it of late as well. Interesting to see this developing consensus, if you will.

And speaking of the PM's penchant for attacking Canadian institutions, you might also want to consider perusing this reminder of Harper's comments over the years on his vision of a decentralized and weakened federal government: "One Canada or 10 Canadas?"

Consider this my lazy weekend contribution to the "why I don't like Harper" meme going around...:)