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A few more hours of Stephen Harper. Just a few more hours now

October 19, 2015


It’s gratifying to wake up and feel quietly confident that Stephen Harper’s tenure as Prime Minister of Canada can now be conveniently measured in hours.  As the polling stations start to open – east to west – across the immensity of the great northern dominion – he will slowly but surely be given notice to quit.

Canada’s international reputation has been, historically, warm and fuzzy and appealing.  Harper has done his darndest to wreck that in the time available.  In environmental terms, Harper has sought to block several critical planetary saving initiatives and has repeatedly made it clear that as far as he’s concerned the rights of Albertan oil barons to further enrich themselves will also trump the rights of, say, the Solomon Islands to, say, exist.

Harper’s control freakery, his cronyism, coupled with a campaigning machine of unprecedented negativity, have meant that people with North American accents have stopped sewing maple leafs onto their backpacks.  Canada has diminished internationally under his watch.  He has invested heavily in British royalist nomenclature and imagery, chiefly as a means of occluding the fact that he has been ceding Canada’s economic sovereignty all the while.  Between British flags and American dollars, the self determination of Canada’s peoples has been left far behind.

I remember hearing from reporters who followed Harper on the last Federal election trail.  They noted the robotic quality of Harper’s prime-ministerial progress.  No spontaneous questions – everything timed and rationed.  He would even reach for a glass of water at the same point in the same speech venue after venue.   When I look into Harper’s eyes, I see dolls eyes looking back at me.  I get the same look from David Cameron and sometimes I wonder – when Harper and Cameron are in the same room together – do they sometimes forget which of them is which?

Harper has always seemed to me to be a contemptible lego-haired streak of moral vacancy, a kind of mobius strip of purposeless self replication.  He doesn’t have the “depth” needed to be truly cynical.  And then I think of Laurence Olivier playing Archie Rice in The Entertainer and saying “you see these eyes – I’m dead behind these eyes” – but Archie Rice enjoyed far more self awareness than Harper.

I think quoting John Osborne would be just about the only way Harper in defeat could begin to retrieve the kind of reflexivity that would form the basis of my ever respecting him in the future.  If he were to concede to Justin Trudeau by just gripping the podium and declaiming


“I’m dead behind these eyes. I’m dead, just like the whole inert, shoddy lot out there. It doesn’t matter because I don’t feel a thing, and neither do they.”

Yeah – that would be touching bottom and the beginning of a spiritual rebirth.


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