Western Canada here. We gave you Stephen Harper. And we’re just writing to say we’re sorry.
We know it’s a little late in the day. But it’s something we really need to square with you.
It’s true that Ontario gave him to us, back when Harper was 19 and moved out to Edmonton. Or at any rate, it didn’t do anything to stop him. But that was a long time ago now; let bygones be bygones.
We’re the ones who really birthed him — the ideologically-compelled, autocratically-inclined Prime Minister we have today. He was a product of his education at the University of Calgary. He was succored by our regional grievances, and he used them to gather power to himself. We should have seen that that’s what he was doing. We didn’t. We’re sorry.
And you, when you decided to try him on as Prime Minister back in 2006, were just trying to figure out if there was a way to get us to stop complaining. This was the West’s guy, you thought; if we give him a shot, will they just shut up? Of course, you had also grown tired of the Liberals, who after 12 years in power were as corrupt as the Conservatives are now, and so it was time to turf them. But there was also a little bit of, okay westerners, you want in? You’re in. Let’s see how you do.
And we have utterly, embarrassingly screwed it up. We’re so sorry.
The guy we gave you started out pretty well. He didn’t pursue the whole ban abortions, outlaw gay marriages thing. He apologized to the First Nations for the residential schools. He recognized Quebec as a nation within Canada. Actually, that one made some of you nervous — wasn’t that playing footsies with the separatists? — but at least it wasn’t what the francophobes in his party, of whom there were many, wanted. So there was that.
But then came the creepy substitution of “Harper Government” for “Government of Canada” on ministerial press releases. Very Kim Jong-il. And then came a majority government, and the full Stevie hove into view.
We note that you helped give him that majority government, Canada, so you’re not entirely blameless in this. But still, we started it. The demonizing of environmentalists. The muzzling of scientists. The torpedoing of the long-form census, on which so much social policy rested. Monster omnibus bills, that rammed through hundreds of items of legislation at a time, with minimal debate, effectively telling democracy to go screw itself, like Bill C-45 that included legislation reducing the number of protected rivers and lakes from 2.5 million to 159, and which turned out to have been largely authored by the pipeline industry. And the exploitation of the 2014 Parliament Hill shootings (carried out by a deranged young man living in a homeless shelter) in the form of Bill C-51, which curtailed Canadian civil liberties to such an extent that four former prime ministers, five former Supreme Court judges, the federal Privacy Commissioner, Amnesty International, the Assembly of First Nations, the Canadian Bar Association, 100 legal experts, and even hardcore right-wingers felt obliged to protest it.
Our boy didn’t care.
There was also the dismantling of the CBC, first by stealth and then via the real estate listings, the destruction of research libraries, the politicization of Revenue Canada, harassment of charities, voter suppression courtesy the inventively named Fair Elections Act, tinpot warmongering, and the refusal to address the matter of 1017 murdered or missing indigenous women.
All ultimately traceable back to us. Not all of us, of course. But most.
We can only hope that on Oct. 19th you will help us get rid of our guy Steve. “Oh sure,” you’ll say. “You make the mess and we have to clean it up. Is that it?” Yeah, that’s pretty much it.
So far, however, it’s not entirely clear that you’re ready to do that. According to the polls, a lot of you are giving him a second look, based mostly on the fact that he’s willing to give those niqab-wearing Muslim ladies a hard time. Stephen Harper may be a product of the strong strains of racism, nativism, paranoia, and misogyny that continue to run through Western Canada, but apparently a lot of you are easily induced to the same sort of sexism and bigotry.
So here’s the thing. If he gets back in this time, it’s no longer just on us. It’s on all of us. You too, Canada. Because while we may have started this most dispiriting period in our nation’s history, we all have the opportunity to end it. And if we don’t, then this time, we’ll all be to blame.
Meantime, we’re sorry. We wanted in, and you let us in, and we trashed the place. We’ll understand if you think twice before you let that happen again.
We’ll go to our room now.