Stephen Harper: master manipulator - 2015-10-15
An unkind cartoon this summer showed the Canadian prime minister, Stephen Harper, kneeling before the statue of another politician, asking: "What now, O Great One?" That in itself would not be unkind. The punchline is that the statue is clearly labelled as that of Richard Nixon, famed above all for his attempts to corrupt democracy.
As Harper tries for a fourth term in office at the Canadian federal election next week, he is trailed by an extraordinarily long list of allegations. In the Watergate scandal, all the president's men were accused primarily of breaking the law to get Nixon a second term in the White House. In Canada, some of the prime minister's men and women have been accused not simply of cheating to win elections but of conspiring to jam the machinery of democratic government.
Some of these allegations have been proved. In the 11 years since he became leader of the country's Conservatives, the party has been fined for breaking electoral rules, and various members of Team Harper have been caught misleading parliament, gagging civil servants, subverting parliamentary committees, gagging scientists, harassing the supreme court, gagging diplomats, lying to the public, concealing evidence of potential crime, spying on opponents, bullying and smearing. Harper personally has earned himself the rare rebuke of being found to be in contempt of his parliament.