Harperism, a new paperback book written by Donald Gutstein, does a good job of examining Stephen Harper's approach to politics, including why he's slowly setting the stage to clip the wings of the dairy and poultry marketing boards.
Step by step, Gustein says Harper is taking Canada to a far-right economic and ultra-conservative social society.
Gutstein says he’s doing this by following the lead of think tanks set up to “research” and promote these policies, think tanks that are funded by wealthy and powerful people. They also make excellent use of Canada’s leading news media organizations and columnists to give widespread public exposure to their proposals.
Harper’s economic policies are rooted in the philosophies of Friedrich Hayek and the members of the Mount Pelerin Society he founded and his social politics in the writings of Leo Strauss whose followers are called Straussists or neo-conservatives.
Gutstein makes a convincing case that Harper is devoted to these two philosophies, that he pursues principles rather than pragmatic and well-researched solutions, and that he is determined to so radically change Canada that it will be difficult to turn back.
For example, he cuts taxes at every opportunity, starving the treasury so he can eliminate social programs, including foreign aid, services for refugees, labour unions and research and statistical data (i.e. from Statistics Canada) that might challenge the policies he wants to pursue, such as exploiting Canada’s oil and natural gas resources and increasing prison terms.
Gutstein says Harper is rewriting Canadian history by silencing references to peace keeping and glorifying war, including the war of 1812 and World War I. He cites the example of the rewritten booklet for immigrants and refugees, Discover Canada, and says it deals with Canadian history and culture in radically different ways than the booklet, A Look at Canada, that it replaces.
Whether you are, or are not, a supporter of Stephen Harper, this is a book well worth reading before you cast a ballot in the upcoming federal election.
It's published by James Lorimer & Company Ltd. and costs $22.95 for the 288-page paperback edition.