Margaret Wente doesn’t get it.

Posted on May 8, 2011

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Margaret Wente could provide me with an endless supply of blog fodder to last until next year’s Master’s dissertation renders blogging virtually impossible. This would, of course, make the blog rather boring and so I ignore her and other like her for that reason. But I’m dismayed enough over the election result that I just had to respond to this:

“Many people have deplored Mr. Harper’s efforts to demonize Michael Ignatieff as an opportunistic carpetbagger. But the hatchet job the Liberals have done on him goes back years, and has been devastatingly effective. Mr. Harper is routinely depicted as a cross between Darth Vader and Lord Voldemort, whose soulless band of Death Eaters will destroy democracy in Canada if they get the chance. They have successfully convinced themselves (and a large but shrinking part of the electorate) that a vote for Mr. Harper is un-Canadian.

It’s not uncommon to find this paranoid streak in the smartest salons of Ottawa and Toronto. Strange to say, it reminds me of those Republican wing-nuts who believe Barack Obama isn’t really an American.

There’s also a lingering element of class and regional prejudice at play. When Mr. Harper (a Toronto boy) arrived in Ottawa, he was regarded with horror by the Ottawa establishment – including most of the Ottawa media – as an outsider from the land of pickup trucks, Bible thumpers and economic fundamentalism. Some members of his caucus certainly filled the bill. But there aren’t that many of them. And they no more represent the right than the folks who want to nationalize big business represent the left.”

I’ve never quite understood why liberals are so often accused of elitism. Michael Ignatieff, to take the most pertinent example, pushed for corporate tax increases to fund programs aimed at helping Canadians of all income levels afford child care and education. Sure he’s an educated guy, but he’s obviously interested in working for the entirety of the socio-economic spectrum. So let’s nip this in the bud, shall we?

We don’t hate Harper because he and his voter base come primarily from the West. We don’t hate him because he’s religious. We don’t hate him because his French sucks or because he would rather campaign in a Tim Horton’s than an art gallery. These are all superficial things that distinguish Harper and his supporters from us, but they are not why sixty percent of the country wants him to not have a majority government.

The reason we fought so hard (and, apparently, so futilely)  against a Harper majority is that Stephen Harper wants the police to monitor what we do on the internet without the benefit of a warrant. He wants those who grow a harmless plant to be thrown in his ever-expanding prisons. He wants to slash $11 billion out of Canadian social services while reserving $35 billion for useless fighter jets without engines. He wants refugees fleeing war zones to be automatically thrown in jail. These are not the paranoid projections of Eastern Elites. These are Harper’s campaign promises. Now that he has his majority, he will do all these things, and there is very little that we will be able to do about it. That’s why we hate Harper. Coffee shop preference hasn’t got a thing to do with it.

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