One of the most baffling developments in the current Canadian political arena is the amount of pure hatred and anger directed at Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
The reasons behind the contempt are well beyond the realm of rational thought and are firmly based in an irrational assessment of this man and his leadership.
Much of the anger has been ignited by Harper’s tumultuous relationship with the Canadian media. Harper changed the game for media heavyweights when he chose to deny them the kind of VIP access presented by his predecessors in the PMO. Journalist egos were bruised and Harper became a target in the eyes of a now-angry press corps.
The daily list of perceived malfeasance by Harper has grown dramatically as we edge closer to a federal election and social media has come alive with people who hate this man for reasons that are mired in conjecture and perception much more than reality.
The Harper government has been called secretive and heavy-handed because this government has created Bill C-51, a data collection proposal designed to prevent terrorist/criminal acts before they create more victims on Canadian soil.
Detractors view Bill C-51 as an infringement on their right to privacy and an affront to civil liberties in this country.
Newsflash: your activity is already being monitored by every advertiser on the Internet through your computer activity in our connected world. That is why you see ads that reflect your web viewing habits.
What would happen without surveillance in Canada?
This country would be a soft target for people who want to make a violent statement against our way of life and Harper would be condemned for his lack of action.
Some even less rational people have actually called Harper a coward because of the attack on Parliament Hill and rumours that he “hid in a closet” during the firefight in the hallway outside his door. They would presumably expect our unarmed prime minister to confront a deranged murderer who was firing a weapon instead of the prudent measure: let the security detail handle the attack — the people with the weapons and the expertise to use them.
We have given press time to ex-patriots like actor Donald Sutherland because he has been denied access to vote in the federal election.
Here is another newsflash: you should live in this country full time before you whine about your right to vote.
The same applied to Canadians who chose to make this country a marriage of passport convenience rather than a place to live and build the Canadian dream. The 2006 evacuation of 13,000 “Canadians by convenience” from wartorn Lebanon cost Canadian taxpayers $100 million. Many of these evacuees spent more time in their former country than their new country of Canada. They remembered this country only when they needed to escape an armed conflict in the country they liked better than Canada.
The Harper government decided to close the loopholes on Canadian citizenship because they wanted to place a higher value on the privilege to be a citizen of this country.
The changes are realistic because plenty of other people in the world would be very grateful for any opportunity to live in Canada full time, and those are the people who should be given that privilege.
Harper has been vilified in the press for just about everything he has done as prime minister of this country.
The hysteria about the man has gone well beyond the reality and we may see another election decided by raw illogic of emotion rather than a realistic assessment of his tenure as prime minister during some very difficult times, including the 2008 global economic collapse.
I would suggest that voters make up their own mind about the federal election and do not fall prey to an active campaign to discredit Harper simply because he did not fawn over the press when he became prime minister. He was too busy running the country.
Jim Sutherland is a local freelance writer.