Sunday, January 14, 2007

Harper-Haters Handbook, Vol. 1

Originally posted at Prairie Wrangler

As of today, Stephen Harper has been in office for nearly 1 year. Miraculously, there has been no popular revolt against his leadership. Even more worrisome, Harper has not fulfilled Martin's apocalyptical insinuations that Harper would enact legislation limiting abortion, declare martial law in cities, or destroy public health care. This makes our job more difficult, but not at all impossible. I thought it would be helpful for progressive elements to have a simple handbook, which, if utilized precisely as outlined, will provide a politically effective counter attack in every conceivable situation...

1) If Harper (or, indeed, any member of the CPC) does anything which can be even spuriously connected to the Bush administration, or the United States in general, it shall be rejected on these grounds alone. No critical analysis is necessary; merely connecting the two is more than sufficient. The calculation is elementary: Bush=Evil; Harper=Bush; therefor, Harper=Evil. Ignore the policy, make the point, smile in self-satisfaction, move on. Bonus points for each time the word "neo-conservative" is used, even if ignorantly misapplied.

2) If, however, Harper publicly opposes American policy, make no mention of the regretful incident. Or, if one feels compelled to comment, the move was merely a political ploy in an attempt to not seem like Bush's lackey, which Harper clearly is. In this way, actions which can seen as pro-Bush, and those that can't, can be criticized, covering all possible Bush related actions.

3) If a member of the CPC proposes a mistaken policy, that mistaken policy originated in Stephen Harper's brain and was dictated to underlings. If, however, a member of the CPC proposes a policy which does not seem fundamentally evil, it was made without the knowledge of Stephen Harper. For example, if a female Conservative MP proposes an investigation into the cause and effects of human trafficking in Canada, this should be assumed to be without Harper's knowledge or approval - otherwise, it may indicate to voters that perhaps Harper doesn't have a festering hatred for women outside of his immediate family, which is altogether unacceptable perception.

4) If rumours circulate that CPC members are "muzzled" by the PMO, jump all over this as indication that Harper is a control freak (if possible, compare him to some of the most ruthless authoritarian dictators throughout history). If, however, Harper doesn't muzzle even perpetually misbegotten members of caucus, it indicates that he is ignorant of or approves of their foolish statements. Again, all possible situations are covered.

5) If Harper seems in any way moderate or progressive, such as by reaching out to ethnic communities, or strengthening environmental legislation, it is merely an exercise in insincere political opportunism, and in no way indicates his true intentions. If, however, Harper proposes legislation which seems in any way discriminatory or conservative, it has nothing to do with pacifying his base or appealing to a certain section of voters, but instead is indication of deeply felt desire to marginalize those whose lifestyle he abhors (unless, of course, one may be a high profile member of his cabinet). Again: moderate policy= insincere political opportunism; conservative policy= immoral ideological rigidity. Either way, he's a jackass.

6) In defence of rule #5, Harper's history in the Reform party shall be brought up whenever possible; the fact that he left the party due to fundamental ideological tensions with the leader Preston Manning will not, of course, be mentioned. Liberals in particular must be cautious with this line of reasoning, for Stephane Dion was a member of a party which had its own share of scandals and monumental failures. This criticism, however can be easily deflected by reminding readers that Stephane was not the leader of the party, and thus cannot be held accountable in any way for that parties mistakes and failures. The fact that Harper was not leader of the Reform party shall be ignored.

7) If Harper seems in any way interesting in protecting human rights, don't lose hope, there is always a counter argument. For example, if Harper publicly rebukes the Chinese President for human rights abuses, it's political grandstanding and/or will harm trade. Or, if Harper seems interested in repealing laws which allowed council chiefs the prerogative to deny basic rights to women on reserves, it is again done for political expediency and/or in an attempt to violate aboriginal self-governing rights. Remember: Harper hates all rights which can't be singularly applied to rich, white, Canadian males, so just be creative, people.

8) If a foreign element criticizes Harper on economic issues, it is done not out of self interest, but out of a genuine altruism and care for the people of Canada. If a foreign element approves of a Harper policy, it is done out of self interest, because it's better for that foreign element than it is for Canadians. Get it, either way, Harper's a dick, and is more dedicated to the interests of those who can't vote for him, than those who can.

9) If a right wing think tank criticizes Harper, it is to be taken as gospel (say something like "even the right wing disagrees with him!"). If however, the same right wing think tank agrees with Harper, it's merely a sign that they're dishonest shills for the government in power (say something like "big shock!", or in Quebec, "quelle surprise!").

10) If Harper realizes he made a mistake, and changes his policy accordingly, he's a flip-flopping liar. If he fails to recognize an error, and sticks obstinately to a failed policy, he's a rigid, spiteful policy maker. Essentially, if Harper didn't accurately predict shifts in public opinion or the effect of external factors on policy areas, he's fucked, either way.

11) Harper bashing in every situation is a progressive badge of honour. The longer you can go without saying anything even slightly positive about anyone even vaguely associated with anyone who has ever called themselves any sort of conservative or themselves have indicated even the most reserved or qualified approval for anything Harper has ever done or thought or said, the more "progressive" you are.

The key is to suppress any individual or objective thought. Even if you agree with something Harper has done or has said, you must always find the angle where the action may not have been completely wrong, but the intentions surely were. The consistency of your criticisms is secondary to the fact that you criticize in all situations (eg. you can characterize Harper as both a flip-flopping political opportunist and an uncompromising ideologue, depending on the circumstances). Good luck and happy bashing!

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