As Harper rolls out his list of expensive promises, I’m reminded of Santa Claus. He also kept lists of who was naughty or nice. In the Harper universe, only devoted Conservatives are nice. Everyone else is naughty. And must not come anywhere near Santa.
Another young woman was turned away from a Harper rally because she’s an environmentalist. Apparently being in favour of the environment means being anti-Harper. Nice of the Harper campaign to remind us of that, lest we forget.
But what’s bothering me about these stories is the background checks being done on Canadian voters. You can’t even select juries in murder trials with the kind of diligence the Harper forces are displaying.
Look at who’s been excluded so far: a 19 year old with a picture of Ignatieff on her Facebook page. A student with an NDP sticker on his car. A veteran’s advocate who had written letters to the PM. Which means that once your name goes on that on-line registry for Harper rallies, his minions Google your background, check out your Facebook posts, your politics, even your car.
Then there’s deemed anti-Harperism by association. University of Guelph students who were part of a ‘bring out the vote’ rally, were kicked out of a Harper Rally too. The group included a 22 year old veterinary student, Izzy Hirji. He says:
“It was a democratic exercise that they [the Conservatives] should have been proud of because there were so many potential voters in that crowd that may have voted for them,” Hirji said of Monday’s so-called “vote mob,” where political slogans, signs and negative messaging were forbidden in an effort to keep the event non-partisan. “Instead they are now turning away.”
No kidding. Name-tags ripped off. Escorted out by the police. As if they were shoplifters being manhandled by over-zealous security guards instead of kids trying to mobilize for an election.
And Harper shrugs it off. “My staff deal with these things.” His response to the historic finding of contempt against his government by the Speaker and the House of Commons was similar. “You win some, you lose some,” he said. It was nothing more than the “the game of democratic politics.”
What kind of democracy alienates youth? Excludes prospective voters from political rallies? Allows a political party to check into the background of voters, to the point of knowing their interests, their Facebook photographs and what they choose to stick on the bumpers of their cars? As Lawrence Martin points out, Canada’s not a police state.
Harper’s response to all of this? Is he apologetic? Concerned? Not at all:
“Look, I think when the other guys are complaining we’re turning people away, and they can’t get people, I think that tells you how this campaign is going, … I think it’s better when you’re turning people away than when you can’t get people to come out.”
Any vote for Harper, as expert Peter Russell points out, will reward Harper’s contempt for Parliament. (Peter Russell, by the way is probably the leading Constitutional expert in Canada: when he worries, so should we all.) But anyone who votes for him after all of this, or is so turned off that they stay home and don’t vote at all, will be rewarding his contempt for us.
Peggy’s regular blog posts on writing and getting published will resume on May 3rd, after the Canadian election.