The Conservatives may have been re-elected last night, but Stephen Harper lost. He coulda been more than a contender; he could have been the leader of a majority government. But he lost it by being small-minded; his silly, captious comment about artists torpedoed the Conservatives’ momentum in Quebec, and here we are.
Over on bobalicious, BoB blogger Eric Pettifor suggests that “He’s got the next best thing to a majority. To defeat anything he wants to get past, the other three parties will have to work together, whereas he only needs to get one of the other parties on side and it sails through.” I don’t expect, though, that three motivated left-wing parties will have much trouble deciding to gang up on the PM, especially if they smell blood. And Harper is hereby wounded.
So here’s an idea, Mr. Harper: how about becoming big-minded? People think you have an agenda, and you do, up the wazoo. So why not announce it? Tell people that, yes, you want to restructure the country, darn right, and reduce federal government to a handful of roles, and leave the rest to the provincial governments, some of whom will decide to get government out of peoples’ lives, and that’s just fine by you. How about saying that, really, you understand the Quebec nation’s frustration — after all, you’re the one who finally acknowledged they are a nation — and that if the rest of us don’t want to change, then maybe they should go. That’d get you some of the vote you didn’t get this time. Maybe you’ll even say that, come to think of it, it’s not the artists who bother you, but the long history of autocratic Liberal rule in Canada, and because the Liberals tend to hang out with artists a lot, you got a little confused.
Actually, you already think pretty big; these are pretty radical ideas, at least for our country. What you need to do is talk big. Announce them. Declaim them to the hilltops. You might still not win big. You might not win at all. In fact, I might not even vote for you, despite my advice, because while I do think the country needs restructuring, I also think the government will continue to have a big role to play in peoples’ lives.
But at least you won’t win small, Mr. Harper. Which is what happened last night.
– Frank Moher