Locusts propagate, proliferate and eat. Locust economies function the same way.
No one develops a vision for a nation in office. One arrives in Ottawa with it. Once in Ottawa, the political pressures of Ottawa take over and there are no new thoughts, just the prosecution of old ones. This has been true of all national political leaders from Sir John A to Tommy Douglas, Pearson and Trudeau.
Sir John A. vision came out of family compact Ontario, Tommy Douglas, the west during the depression, Pearson and Trudeau from Toronto and Montreal. Sir John A. brought the railroad and the idea of a nation from sea to sea, Tommy Douglas, national health care and a more caring society, Pearson and Trudeau the idea of a bilingual and bicultural nation.
Not surprisingly, Mr. Harper’s arrived in Ottawa with his own vision. It was very clear and hadn’t changed since he was a student of Tom Flanagan in Calgary and ran for the leadership of the Canadian Alliance Party with Professor Flanagan as his campaign manager. Professor Flanagan is a Texan and has found in Canada’s oil province a great deal that has been congenial to him, but less so the nation and has set about changing it from his position as a tenured professor in Calgary and through former students like Stephen Harper.
Professor Flanagan’s vision is a Texas Ranger approach to life and nation building, the kind of view that would prompt him to recently proclaim that “I think (Julian) Assange should be assassinated”. (CBC- 2010) It has not been the Canadian way to assassinate dissenters, our own or others. We tend to keep RCMP files on them and report to committees of Parliament, but back home he’s on solid ground. Tea Party spokesmen have stated ‘their’ President should have the right to assassinate American citizens presumed to be a threat to the nation without any oversight of Congress or Judiciary. Just point the finger and pull the trigger.
Another part of the Flanagan vision that Mr. Harper arrived in Ottawa with was: ‘Climate change was a socialist scheme to suck money out of rich countries’ and he announced he was determined to pursue the “battle of Kyoto – to block the job killing, economy destroying Kyoto Accord”. He has won this battle and many others on his way to changing Canada into the kind of country Mr. Flanagan would be more comfortable with.
Public Health Care has never been welcome in Texas, nor is Tommy Douglas a hero there, and Mr. Harper is working steadily away at dismantling it. Mr. Harper is a much more strategic thinker than Mr. Flanagan and couches his withdrawal from support for National Medicare by his obligation to respect provincial rights (aka ‘state rights’). It is clear the withdrawal of federal financial support for health care but without any increased tax powers to the provinces will make the isolated provinces easy targets for the American Insurance corporations to pick off and this has already begun as services are privatized. (Has anyone not got a Blue Cross card in Alberta?)
Aboriginal rights don’t exist according to Mr. Flanagan. First nations are simply first immigrants and should be assimilated, the Indian Act scrapped and so on. Mr. Harper’s genius as the Chief Locust is that unlike Mr. Flanagan, he understands how to get there. As he said to Indian leaders recently, we have to go slowly. We can’t accomplish everything immediately. What exactly he wants to accomplish though was never stated. I’m guessing it’s assimilation.
In this regard and many others, Steven Harper is unique in the western world. There is no other, elected national figure quite like him. He still believes that the locust economy is the best economy possible. How else can one explain his government kissing goodbye 4 billion dollars in 21st century patents goodbye (Nortel), millions in pensions, and thousands of jobs without lifting a finger, but calling it a national emergency if Canada can’t slurry tar to China? A tar pipe line is a perfect locust economy project. It creates no long term jobs, but costs billions, and has devastating environmental impacts. This is the Locust Economy functioning at its best, but needs an adept Chief Locust in charge, fortunately, for Tom Flanagan, it has one.