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Saturday, July 24, 2010

If only it were as harmless as Hogan's Heroes ...

It's not a bad analogy. Steven Chase writes in the Globe's Ottawa Notebook that the Harpokons (I won't dignify them by calling them Tories, or even Conservatives – those are terms with honourable connotations) have decided to make their stand on the census kerfuffle with the Hogan's Heroes defence. (In fairness, lest anyone think they're all alone, they can take some comfort in the support they're getting from random flying monkeys.)

Good for a laugh, but it leaves me with the same uneasy feeling I get after watching Jon Stewart. Like the people Stewart skewers so effectively, the Harpokons just shrug it off and persist with their stolid disregard, even contempt, for differing viewpoints, critical engagement, and independent thought for that matter. They've been sticking to their guns on this despite a virtual avalanche of concern and opposition to their plans to neuter the census. Not just from the “socialists” and “elitists” they like to deride, but from virtually every sector – even those that normally align with them.

While the census kerfuffle may leave them with some temporary embarrassment, it's not as if they're going to sustain any serious political damage. And that's the worrisome part.

It's not as if they're going to pay for turning the jackbooted bullyboys loose on us during the G20.

It's not as if they've had to pay for their continuing campaign to intimidate and silence critics and undermine the entire notion of an impartial and professional public service. (Richard Colvin?  Name ring a bell?)

It's not as if anyone's held their feet to the fire over their sustained and multipronged assault on the "foundational infrastructure of democratic accountability” or their systematic undermining of democratic institutions and practices.

Not content with their attempt to dismantle the foundation of all good public policy via their assault on the census, now they're going after employment equity, because, as we all know, white men face such numerous systemic and institutional barriers in our society. Although apparently Jason Kenney's been trying to reassure critics that affirmative action isn't being targeted. Dog whistle? Ya think?

The most stomach-turning thing about all of this is listening to otherwise well-intentioned observers who caution us about the Harpokons and warn us that we can't afford to give them a majority. Well, here's a question: can someone please explain how this is any different from what we'd see under a Harper majority? Because I really want to know ...

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