Cancer is sexy

I don’t have a TV, so I just checked if my livestreaming CBC is working and it seems to be, so I will be able to watch the debate tonight.

Two chapters left to go in Lawrence Martin’s “Harperland” and I also just picked up Christian Nadeau’s “Rogue in Power” yesterday and have read chapter 1. A very different kind of book, Nadeau’s book is a piece of living political philosophy. I look forward to blogging about it.

But first, Harperland before I get to tweeting the debates.


I don’t have a TV, so I just checked if my livestreaming CBC is working and it seems to be, so I will be able to watch the debate tonight.

Two chapters left to go in Lawrence Martin’s “Harperland” and I also just picked up Christian Nadeau’s “Rogue in Power” yesterday and have read chapter 1. A very different kind of book, Nadeau’s book is a piece of living political philosophy. I look forward to blogging about it.

But first, Harperland before I get to tweeting the debates.

Harper’s strategist Tom Flanagan argued that the Conservatives see themselves like Israel does: “You’re constantly under threat… Politics and the military become kind of fused”, the party has “to go forth and defend their rule… defend what you’ve conquered in the past.” (pg. 192) I saw a column where Flanagan makes this military analogy in the G & M. Flanagan & Harper would like it if politics were just warfare, bloodsport, instead of a way that people can come together to make collective decisions on important matters. While they describe this as simply the way things are, they are actually just speaking about their own (ugly) world view.

Chapter 15 of Harperland is called “The Keynesian Way” and is about how Harper adopted tax-and-spend economics as a matter of necessity during the recession. Now, of course, he is campaigning on tax cuts and fearmongering about Liberal/NDP taxes, but consistency, like truth, is not one of his principles. That isn’t to say he doesn’t have principles, as we will get into when we discuss “Rogue in Power” – just that consistency isn’t one of them.

Speaking of tax-and-spend, today’s little news item on the $50 million in G8 spending that went to pork for Conservative ridings is another little corruption story that’s probably going to disappear, not connected to a broader pattern, to be forgotten on the campaign. But it is, of course, connected to a broader pattern. Much of the government stimulus package was sent to Conservative ridings, to the point where a Conservative candidate (Gordon Landon) promised that he could get stimulus money flowing to his riding if elected (pg. 220-221)

Back to Harperland, Martin recounts the story of Lisa Raitt, who described the Chalk river shutdown and shortage of radioisotopes as “sexy. Radioactive leaks. Cancer.” (pg.204) There were some crocodile tears later, but again, it’s indicative.

Chapter 16 is about Law and Order, and how the Harper people suppress criminological data and research that suggests their crime policies don’t reduce crime. Indeed, Harper says that research-based justice is trying to “pacify Canadians with statistics… Your personal experience and impressions are wrong, they say.”

That is, of course, what science is about – not relying on “your personal experience and impressions”, but on trying to be objective about what the weight of evidence tells you. And of course, Harper knows this – he doesn’t rely on “personal experience and impressions” while trying to figure out how to engineer himself a majority – there, he relies on tens of millions of dollars of public opinion research, commissioning 2 public opinion studies per day. Science, to Harper, is an instrument of power, a weapon, not a source of information to guide its exercise.

In Chapter 17, on the second great prorogation, Martin makes an interesting connection that, again, I didn’t see at the time, which is that Harper used the Haiti earthquake to his advantage. He had prorogued Parliament again, this time to prevent discussion of the Afghan detainee scandal. A movement was growing against Harper’s use of prorogation as a tool to avoid parliamentary scrutiny, when the Haiti earthquake struck. I didn’t make that connection at all because I was much more concerned with what was happening in Haiti. But in retrospect, I think Lawrence Martin is right.

I’ll probably blog on the debates before I finish up Harperland, which I just have two short chapters of left. Now to the debates.

Justin Podur

Author: Justin Podur

Author of Siegebreakers. Ecology. Environmental Science. Political Science. Anti-imperialism. Political fiction. Teach at York U's FES. Author. Writer at ZNet, TeleSUR, AlterNet, Ricochet, and the Independent Media Institute.