I saw this fellow being quoted over at Impolitical’s blog this AM, but I think his analysis of Harper is well worth repeating:
Michael Behiels, a native of Alberta’s Peace River country, teaches Canadian constitutional history at the University of Ottawa. He says Harper’s approach to politics and governance is shaped by his Christian fundamentalism. “Harper is a fundamentalist ‘values’ conservative and his evangelical Christian views drive both his domestic and foreign policy agendas,” Behiels continues. “On foreign policy, Harper is a dyed-in-the-wool Republican who maintains that the U.S., Canada and the U.K. have a mission, a religious duty, so to speak, to impose an American form of democracy on the world.” On the domestic front, Behiels continues, the prime minister believes “every left-of-centre Canadian is a moral relativist, that is, immoral, and can’t be trusted to govern at any level of society.”
I’m not sure if Harper is a “dyed-in-the-wool Republican”, but there’s no doubt he’s imported Republican political methods of using personal attack ads and trying to use “wedge issues” to divide Canadians (with his goal being that he divides them more into his camp then the opposition parties). The partisan use of formerly non-partisan government agencies to brazenly promote the Conservatives is another importation of Republican methodology and ideology – both the Republicans and Harper’s Conservatives “hate” government, except where it can aid them in getting re-elected to power.
Some more from Professor Behiels:
..This is the wellspring for the prime minister’s contempt for “socialists,” for his treatment of Canada’s opposition parties as enemies to be destroyed, for his antipathy to “left-wing fringe groups” working on behalf of the disadvantaged, for his government’s crackdown on refugees and his willingness to spend hundreds of millions of dollars building new prisons to facilitate his “tough-on-crime” agenda. ..Behiels sees the next election as a “competition of values. There are values on the right which are deeply imbued with religious fundamentalism but you also have longstanding, deeply-entrenched liberal values in Canada that are just as important to people and must be defended.”
The columnist who wrote this column and was quoting Professor Behiels wrote that “The Harper Conservatives have introduced a whole new style of politics to Canada, and the opposition parties must adapt to confront it or see the country changed irrevocably.” I agree, and I’d like to see less of ducking and running from some of Harper’s core wedge issues and instead the Liberal leadership aggressively counter-attacking, if they are detrimental to Canada’s traditional liberal social ideals.
I like the focus that the Liberals have had on the Conservatives pork-barrel politicking they’ve shown to be engaging in with stimulus projects, which may be showing some resonance with the Canadian public, if Ekos’s poll from this AM is to be believed. They need to keep up the public pressure on that front, and extend that aggression to other Conservative core policies and make the case why those policies are so wrong for Canada.