Just north of the border an interesting development is taking place in Canada: with two weeks to go in the federal election for Canada’s new government, opinion polls are showing that the Conservative Party, headed by Stephen Harper, are edging ahead of the current minority government Liberal Party.  The irony is that just as the US seems to be moving away from its lovefest with the far right, Canadians are holding their noses and thinking about voting into government a man who could be a Bush Clone.  

     Harper is on record as holding neo-con views on may issues, and in three major areas shares common ground with Bush’s Republicans.  

     Firstly, Harper will have a government which is closer to a theocracy than any government in Canada before, and bound to consider – and implement – many policies held dear by its powerful backing of its far right wing religious backers.  This will be shown by its opposition to abortion and to gays, amongst other issues; and will end up with a religious litmus test being applied to future appointments to the Canadian Supreme Court.

     Secondly, Harper shares the anti-statist views of the far right wingers in the Republican party.  He, too, would like to remove taxing powers from the federal government so as to starve it so that it becomes weak enough to “drown in a bathtub”.  He would do so by devolving taxing powers to the provinces, and giving far more deference to provincial governments (even those of a province, Quebec, which might wish to  break the Canadian federation), than any previous federal government has done.  The net effect will be the same: a weakened central government with restricted powers.

     Thirdly, he shares the Bush belief that workers are too molly coddled and need the sharp discipline of the marketplace, exercised by powerful corporations.  So, he too would weaken unions.  He would change the magnificent social welfare system so painstakingly built up over decades in Canada, choosing one with fewer benefits and a dog-eat-dog aura to it.  He would cut back on unemployment benefits.  

     On January 23rd, Canadians might – to their horror – wake up to find that they have Bush Junior as their elected leader.  It took Bush about twelve months to start dismantling America’s government; expect Harper to do the same in his first year.

     Finally, Bush will have a Canadian leader he will feel comfortable with, and one he can invite to join with Tony Blair and him at Camp David…..

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