The Harper Government

Hi Internet, it’s Monday, March 7th, and I’m mad at the Prime Minister’s Office.

Consider this your disclaimer. If you are not interested in hearing me rant about politics, best to skip this one.

Ok, here’s the CBC clip:

YouTube

“Maybe we’ll look at it”? Clearly you misjudged, Stockwell.

Let me tell you a story. You might have heard it before.

There was once an army general who had led many successful missions and was very popular with both the people and the administration of his country. The administration in question was extremely ineffective, so the general joined forces with several powerful men and staged a coup which replaced a constitutional government with a consulate. He was elected First Consul, making him the head of state. Two years later, he used this position to pass into law a document that said (translated):

Article 1. The French people name, and the Senate proclaims Napoleon-Bonaparte First Consul for Life.

That was in 1802. By the end of 1804, Napoleon had crowned himself Emperor. The same arrogance which made him Emperor of France led him to alienate his already destitute country from any potential allies. After he failed to take Russia in 1812, the other European nations allied themselves against France. His rule was brought to an end in 1814, by which time France’s multitude of enemies had taken Paris. They laid the blame of unrest in Europe squarely on Napoleon’s head and forced him into exile.

History is important. In the words of George Santayana, “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” If Napoleon had not been so arrogant as to think he could succeed where Julius Caesar had failed, he might have found a way to avoid being singularly blamed for the unrest in Europe and exiled to Elba. If Hitler had been thinking of Napoleon, he might have realized that trying to invade Russia with winter coming on might not be a top-notch plan.

I am not saying that Stephen Harper is going to wage war against Canada’s allies and attempt to take over the Western World. But his office’s “re-branding” of the Government of Canada speaks of an arrogance that can’t be ignored.

Prime Minister Harper has had the top seat in the country since five years ago last month. He has won 2 elections. He has never, ever, had the support of the majority of the House of Commons, or the majority of the Canadian people. In addition to the implication that he is the government – and Canadians, let us never forget that it is OUR government, to elect and to influence as we see fit – he is implying it in the face of the fact that he is not able to govern singularly. He won’t be able to do that until he wins a majority, and even then, only if he retains the support of the Conservative members of the House.

We don’t have to stand for this, and it doesn’t have to get worse before it gets better. Napoleon’s people – the ones he spoke for when he claimed that they named him First Consul for life – didn’t have the access to information that we have. A lot of us know about this, which already has us ahead of the French in 1802. We have free press. We have a national administrative system which is structured around the will of the people. We have the ability to send letters and sign petitions without fear of reprisal from above.

In itself, re-naming the government on internal documents seems like a tiny change that will have no effect on the average Canadian. But the attitude that justifies this change is very dangerous in a national leader; as history has shown us time and time again, leaders who exhibit this attitude have a way of leading their countries straight into the ground.

Article 1. The French people name, and the Senate proclaims Napoleon-Bonaparte First Consul for Life.