Dear Mr Harper: About that Poll…

On Thursday I answered the phone and it was you Mr Harper (well, your robot pollster lady) wondering whether I’d answer a 30 second political survey.

While I can’t be certain she was calling on your behalf, the nature of her questions led me to the inevitable conclusion that I was talking to none other than Our Dear Leader.

Here’s why.

Question 1: What do you care about most?  

Right off the bat you manipulated my response.

The choices you gave me were: a balanced economy, healthcare, public safety and two other things that were so inconsequential I can’t remember them.

My biggest concern is your democracy-killing anti-terrorism bills but the only semi-related response was “public safety”. I couldn’t click “public safety” because you’d interpret my answer as support for these wretched bills when in fact the opposite is true.

Mr Harper smiling

Also, you completely ignored the possibility that I might be fussed about climate change.

I’m not surprised. In a recent photo op you stood before the billowing smoke of a forest fire and vowed to take a hard look at new ways to fight wildfires.

When asked whether there may be a connection between significantly more forest fires and—dare we say it—climate change you said “it’s possible” but refused to commit any funding or resources to the issue.

Climate change is eclipsed by your focus on the “jihadist threat.”

Sadly, this strategy seems to be working for you and your colleagues David Cameron and Tony Abbot.

A recent Pew Centre Survey of 40 countries found that climate change was the most commonly cited global threat everywhere but Canada, the US, Australia, South Korea, Japan and some parts of Europe.

Fifty-eight percent of Canadians rated ISIS a more serious threat than climate change which registered with only 45% of the population. ISIS was the number one threat for 68% of Americans and 69% of Australians; climate change ranked 42% and 37% respectively.

This isn’t surprising considering the war rhetoric you, Cameron and Abbot use whenever you talk about terrorism.

Remember your “not now, not ever” speech? It was a classic. You introduced your anti-terrorism bills by characterizing “violent jihadism” as “an act of war” against the “Canadian way of life”.

It’s no coincidence that your “way of life” rhetoric echoes the words of Winston Churchill who described Britain’s battle with Hitler as a battle for the survival of British life.

But know this: Churchill was right and you are wrong. It’s you, not the so-called jihadists, who are crushing our rights and freedoms.

Oh and while we’re on the topic of Winston Churchill, somehow I don’t think he would have hidden in a closet when Michael Zehaf-Bibeau stormed Parliament Hill…

Questions 2 & 3: Who will you vote for? Who’s your second choice?

That’s easy. Mulcair’s party followed by Trudeau’s party.

Question 4: We have fixed election dates. Do you think it would be unfair to move away from the fixed date?

Well, isn’t that clever! You’re trying to assess whether your conservative and undecided voters will react negatively if you call an early election.

Mr Harper “unbuttoned”

I know why you’re asking. With each passing day Canadians are getting to know Mulcair better. He’s even shared his childhood photographs. Turns out he was a hippy in university just like the rest of us! You on the other hand look like you were born in a three piece suit. Gracious, even young Justin is starting to make some sense.

I was tempted to click “no problem” with a snap election just to get you to do it (we all know how well that worked out for Jim Prentice) but decided to be honest instead. Yes it’s a big deal.

Question 5: What species are you, male or female?

You probably didn’t use the word “species” but by the end of the 30 seconds I felt like I’d been communicating with an alien so it wouldn’t have surprised me if you had.

One last thing

I wish your poll allowed respondents to add a few words at the end.

I would have paraphrased the British journalist, George Monbiot, who said men like you, Cameron and Abbot “won’t engage in generational struggles with real existential threats—climate breakdown first among them—for fear of alienating their sponsors”.

Instead you invest yourselves with “belligerent glory while forgetting Churchill’s ability to place the interests of the nation above the interests of his sponsors and his class”.

Place the interests of the nation above the interests of his sponsors and his class.

Wouldn’t that be a refreshing change?  

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21 Responses to Dear Mr Harper: About that Poll…

  1. jvandervlugt says:

    What a sneaky slime politician. God, change the election dates because he’s scared. Great blog Susan.

    • Thanks Joanna. I was working on something the other day and came across this question: List the names of 10 people who scare you and why. Stephen Harper is at the top of my list because I think he truly believes in his heart of hearts that he’s right. People like that are convinced that the end justifies the means no matter who gets hurt along the way. The sooner Canadians oust the guy, the better.

  2. Elaine Fleming says:

    Stephen Harper paying a visit to the BC forest fire region is making news. The part of the story I found appalling was Harper trying to force these haggard firefighters to sing “Oh, Canada!” for his use as a photo-op. I am so glad they refused. They are heroes to me more than ever now.…/ It is hard to believe any Canadian would vote for someone as unprincipled as this.

  3. Elaine Fleming says:

    Sorry, Susan! The joke’s on me. The “Lapine” is a satirical publication! What I described at the scene where Harper meets the B.C. firefighters and commences to conduct “Oh! Canada!” didn’t happen. (At least the song part ….) The Lapine writers cleverly captioned one of the photos taken at the “visitation” from His Greatness. It serves me right to be taken in by these jokesters, but my apologies to you and your readers! I was going to delete the Lapine from my Facebook live feed in my embarrassment and frustration but it is too funny! And, Harper DOES look like a conductor in the picture they used for this story.

    • No problem Elaine. As a friend of mine said when people start to mock you “you’re done like toast”. The local BC press took a very dim view of the Harper/Clark photo op. The Penticton newspaper ran the story under the headline “Man in blue suit thanks firefighters”. The story pointed out that this was the second straight day the politicians interrupted the firefighters for a political photo op in which “…several federal politicians stood around waiting, occasionally wiping dirt from their clothing while sweaty, ash-covered, exhausted-looking firefighters surrounded them for the tightly controlled photo opportunity. Helicopters carrying empty buckets buzzed overhead and a steady stream of wildfire fighting aircraft circled prior to the event. Here’s the link:

  4. Carlos Beca says:

    Susan you are absolutely right, Harper was born again with all the light possible and evangelically perfect. This is why he does not own any important issue in the country. All he can talk about when it promotes him, is the economy and the budget. He was not just born in a three piece suit, he was born with a market chip and that is why he cannot talk about anything else. He is the first person that has convinced me that Borgs already exist. I have full respect for other’s political opinions but this is embarrassing. It is as bad as George Bush.

    • Carlos, not only is Harper driven by his blinkered view of what the world should be, he’s destroyed our ability to right the ship after he’s gone by gutting all the agencies that gather data to tell us what’s really going one. But notwithstanding all of Harper’s efforts to muzzle the scientists, a senior government climatologist commented on the wildfire story by acknowledging that this “whiplash weather” which swings from one extreme to another may be attributable to climate change in a world “where normal doesn’t exist anymore”. I thought that was pretty brave given the consequences of bucking the Word According to Harper.

      • Carlos Beca says:

        People are starting to fight back not only here but all over the world. In Greece for example, despite the failure of the Syriza party, if you read around you will see clearly that Europe is no longer the same place it was before all this happened. More than ever Germany is being criticized on many fronts and even within it the Left is moving fast. Step by step the psychological and financial neo-liberal grip is losing strength and soon it will rupture. In Canada things could not have changed faster than they are right now and you can already feel the PC desperation. Thomas Mulcair is on the upswing and hopefully he will be smart enough to take the rare opportunity and hit them hard. I am appalled that neither at the Federal or provincial level they are moving on democratic renewal. It is one of the areas that needs plenty of reform and all of it would help them more than anything else. It is bizarre but true. At the provincial level I have to say that the silence is mind boggling. After 44 years of waiting almost nothing has been announced even on issues that do not require spending money. Alberta is one of the most undemocratic provinces in Canada and still not even a word on it. It is a bit concerning and it feels that they are floating in space, they have not landed. Surprised with the mess? Well get on it. It almost feels like politics are inadequate in face of todays world. Nothing happens no matter what.

      • Carlos, you’re right about the neo-liberals losing their grip on the rest of us. The fact that more of us are aware of the shocking terms of the so-called trade agreements which are nothing more than “protect corporate interests” agreements is indicative of a seismic shift in how we perceive the value of the free market versus our rights and freedoms. To think that corporations can take governments to arbitration when governments enact laws that benefit their citizens is unbelievable. Thank god the citizens of the EU countries have finally woken up to this fact and demanding that their politicians reject the investor-state arbitration provisions in these agreements. And yet, Canada has signed many such agreements and it looks like it’s on a path to sign the TPP this week in Maui.

        I agree with your point about the eery silence we’re getting from our own government. I’m on the government news feed and so far it’s been a string of public service announcements and not much more. I really hope our NDP government is focused on improving healthcare (frankly I think AHS has to be replaced with a more regional model) seniors care, care for children in care, etc. We’d really like to hear how they’re progressing these and other fronts.

  5. Jim Lees says:

    Great post Susan. I have had it with these polls – no problem with the intent to take the pulse of the electorate, but the response choices force one to provide misleading answers which can then be used by spin doctors to support or reject just about anything. Maybe not the best solution, but I decline to participate in the polls. I find I have to spend too much time trying to figure out what it is they are trying to make me say…..

    • Jim, you’re right about the futility of trying to respond to polls. What bothers me is the way politicians use polls to manipulate the electorate. For example I think Redford’s PCs won in 2012 because (1) the Wildrose had a bozo eruption and (2) the polls predicted the Wildrose would win a majority. Many people were OK with the Wildrose becoming the official opposition, but balked at the thought of the Wildrose forming government and switched their votes from the Liberals and the NDP to the PCs in order to block the Wildrose. Elections are not like Hollywood Squares, you can’t just pick a letter to block and have it come out all right. Luckily for us the PCs were so corrupt that after the Redford/Hancock/Prentice show the public was ready for real change. Hello NDP!

  6. I am impressed by your patience. I like to quietly research my political party choices and when they start bothering me and invading my life I get really, really irritated. I can not even count the number of times I was harassed by Mr. Harper’s phone calls and now I find out that if I did answer it would have only been to answer sneaky ridiculous questions like these. Thank you for investigating for us and keep up the good work!

    • Linda, I know what you mean. The number of phone polls we get in one week is ridiculous and it’s going to get a whole lot worse once we’re in full election mode. I remember complaining to an experienced politician about these calls and he told me that research showed that even negative calls were effective because they suppressed the vote. Great. Let’s engineer telephone calls to keep people out of the voting booth. If that’s not a cynical perversion of the democratic process I don’t know what is.

  7. Stop the pcs says:

    Except C-51 is a great bill that promotes our democracy and protects our safety. That alone will guarantee Harper’s increased majority.

  8. Though I share the general growing disgust with Harper, and predict he will have made the same tactical error that Prentice did in Alberta, I do not share a giddy optimism about partisan politics from any point of the political spectrum. Nevertheless, come October 19: “Welcome to 24 Sussex Prime Minister Mulcair.” Here’s my take on the democracy and representation:

  9. Rusty, thanks for the link to your interesting and informative blog. I tried to search for the Mulcair blog but it didn’t come up. Is there an easier way to find it?

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