Harper NEEDS Canadians to get up in arms about any issue. It is what hardens perspectives, and paints everything black or white. By creating the NeoCon preferred "black or white" charged political environment, they eventually eliminate the moderate, balanced, so-called "mushy middle". Harper prefers that all issues are divided by either the NDP/left perspective, or his far right perspective. Then, he can claim "economic intellectual superiority" and taunt detractors by saying, "would you really want the socialists running the country?"
The "grand scheme" of NeoCon thought in Canada is that eventual hardening of lines which will remove the moderate/liberal middle in Canada, and install the hard right as Canada's new "natural governing party"... The minority situation they are in has actually helped them immensely. They have looked as "moderately rightist" as they possibly can, while still breaking apart the nation and central government - under the guise of "progress" and "less red tape".
I recently posted a response on another blog about the potential of a US Conservative movement towards a "revenue-neutral carbon tax" (a'la Green Shift)... My response:
"I honestly don't think, however, that Harper will even think about pushing this. He's going to hope that it gets buried down South, then he'll once again (not very earnestly at all) talk about cap n' trade and other less adequate ways to fight climate change - which he doesn't believe anyway.
He has no intention of doing anything anyways. He benefits from the disagreement more than any actual solution. As a matter of fact ALL of Harper's policy is geared around creating conflict, then doing the bare minimum required to appease the public - this usually by lying about their intent, and the supposed "solution". He thrives on the conflict. If Canada is constantly deeply divided on issues, he can talk about how his ideas are "legitimate" because they reflect the will of the 22% of Canadians who voted for him... Legitimized by the fact that he is the "duly elected government", avoiding any recognition of the minority status of it.
The other thing to keep in mind is that high oil prices are good for Harper and Alberta. He won't back down from policy that keeps big oil happy. He will constantly bring up the "economic engine of Canada" argument to silence critics.
I think this could be a wedge issue for us IF Obama champions it in a bi-partisan effort South of the border. If Obama doesn't pick up on it, then we don't touch it, because it won't get any media play up here. "
On other issues, Harper uses the same technique. For example, with the economic crisis, he does not have the tools (meaning skilled cabinet members) at his disposal to come up with truly ingenious and workable solutions. What will he do? He will copy the US (they quite literally said that when he and Flaherty indicated they will wait for the US to act before working on a solution for the Big 3 - note also, that their concern was with the companies, not the workers - they actually bashed them). WE will have to see what wedge Harper will try to create on the issue of a bailout on this touted "bi-partisan" Parliamentary effort to save Canada's economy. He, of course, will continue to bash the non-existent "Socialist-Separatist Coalition". He will try - with the media's help - to continue to play that possibility up long after Mr. Ignatieff buries the coalition idea (you can see that in the "Fruitloops Polling" the media is currently engaged in).
Time will tell what the Conservative "Happy New Year Canada" budget will bring, but we can anticipate there will a lot of partisan barbs in hopes of creating more conflict - and perhaps an election. The final "shaming" of Canada will be when our private media once again fails to do any real journalism and forgets to remind Canadians how Harper is the puppet-master in all this "created" conflict.
Something for all of us to think about in the weeks ahead, as hope to escape the hangover of a not-so-great 2008.