Thursday, January 08, 2015
Stephen Harper and the Politics of Fear
Even for a man like Stephen Harper with so many screaming voices in his head, it was an astonishing transformation. Something right out of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.
One moment he was telling a a group of young people in BC about how he planned to create gazillions of jobs for them. And purring like a kitten.
The next moment he was raving like a maniac, and declaring that we were all under attack and threatening to turn us into a police state.
Warning that the “international jihadist movement” has declared war on Canada and its allies, Stephen Harper says his government plans to bring in new legislation shortly after the Commons winter break to give security agencies more powers to thwart terrorist attacks.
“The fact of the matter is this, ladies and gentleman: the international jihadist movement has declared war. They have declared war on anybody who does not think and act exactly as they wish they would think and act. They have declared war and are already executing it on a massive scale on a whole range of countries with which they are in contact,” Mr. Harper said.
Even though there is no evidence that the Paris attack had anything to do with ISIS, or any vast jihadist conspiracy.
We don't even know if the gunman who attacked our Parliament was a real terrorist or a mentally deranged drug addict because the RCMP Commissioner won't release his video.
But what is clear is, as Michael Harris points out, that Stephen Harper is trying to use what happened in France for his own crass political purposes.
As Europe staggers toward scapegoating, paranoia and bigotry in the wake of the unspeakable mass murder of journalists in Paris, there’s one thing that every Canadian can take to the bank: When Parliament returns, Stephen Harper will be bringing forward new anti-terror legislation.
Fear is Harper’s most powerful vote magnet; security is fear’s most reliable handmaiden.
Trying to use fear to scare Canadians into voting for him, even though as we know he himself is no hero...
Trying to use it as a wedge issue against his opponents, and bully us into surrendering our freedoms.
The new legislation will be a loyalty test administered by Harper on Thomas Mulcair and Justin Trudeau — and on all of us, really. Are we tough or soft on terrorism?
Harper’s new anti-terror legislation will be self-interested politics at its worst. Count on it: When the new bill passes, Big Brother will have a tighter grip on your life than he does today — and you will be no safer.
But as Harris also points out, fear is a mighty weapon.
The very thing that is killing us — exchanging freedom for security — has received a gigantic boost from these tragic events in France. In the heat of the moment, it’s probably too much to ask for people to hold their nerve and think this through. But we must.
And for the opposition the stakes couldn't be higher.
Given events in Paris, this is a signature moment for the political opposition in Canada. Without providing any proof, Harper has repeatedly suggested that the tragic deaths of two Canadian soldiers last October were terrorist-related. Both Mulcair and Trudeau need to demand that proof on behalf of all Canadians who want to know the truth.
So both Trudeau and Mulcair will have to be stronger and smarter than ever before.
Remind Canadians that despite what Harper said today about the terrorist menace:
They have declared war on any country like ourselves that values freedom, openness and tolerance. And we may not like this and wish it would go away, but it is not going to go away and the reality is we are going to have to confront it.”
Nobody has done more to undermine openness and freedom in this country than he has.
This old saying has never been more true:
Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.
And the greatest terrorist threat we face is Stephen Harper himself...
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