Blog post

"A Canadian version of George W Bush, minus the warmth and intellect, is now prime minister"

Morgan Buck 5 May 2011

The resounding victory of Stephen Harper's Conservative government this week will accelerate Canada's rightward drift—and it gives Harper n opportunity to impose the militarist, neoliberal agenda that his formerly minority administration had sometimes chosen to conceal.

Writing for the Guardian on Tuesday, Heather Mallick assessed the impact of such a victory on behalf of this "humorless and awkward" leader, calling it "the beginning of a kind of war, conducted in a dull, quietly agonizing way."

What happens now is the full-scale Americanisation of Canada, hinted at over the past seven years by Harper - he fired people who talked too loudly about this - but not acted upon because Canadians have always valued their distinctiveness from the angry country in decline south of the border. [...]

Harper's Conservatives will pass an omnibus law and order bill within 100 days to make jail sentences mandatory for many offences, and begin building super-jails, copying a system that even its authors, the Americans, have begun to abandon. The huge purchase of fighter jets from Lockheed Martin, which was an election issue, will now go ahead - Harper says it will cost $9bn, government auditors say $39bn - as will massive military shipbuilding. [...]

Corporate taxes will be cut almost immediately, Bush-style. Political financing laws will change - parties now get money for each vote - but this will end under the Conservatives, who will have a huge advantage in terms of the amount they can solicit in corporate donations.

In what has largely been interpreted as the result of strategic voting, the New Democratic Party (NDP) came in second to form the official opposition, beating out the Liberals who have occupied this position comfortably for the past seven years—an unprecedented outcome that has inspired speculations about a potential realignment of the Canadian party system.

Not unexpectedly, the blame for the Liberal humiliation has fallen squarely on the shoulders of party leader Michael Ignatieff, who was quick to announce his resignation on Tuesday evening. Since his 2005 return to Canadian politics, Ignatieff has been pilloried by both Left and Right. He will be facing yet another reproach this fall in Derrick O'Keefe's Michael Ignatieff: The Lesser Evil? (forthcoming from Verso November 2011). 

Visit the Guardian to read Mallick's article in full.