Todd Akin, Tea Party Republicans, And The Chance to Reclaim the GOP

Todd Akin of Missouri maintains that he will stay in the Senate race despite calls for him to withdraw over those now infamous comments on rape and pregnancy.

Akin cited what he called a “grassroots conservative movement” in the country that needs a voice in government, for his decision to stay. Translation: I’m going to make abortion an issue in my election fight.

He’ll have to draw on those 100 pastors who endorsed him, the Mike Huckabees and the evangelicals across the country for the necessary financial support, as the GOP is planning to cut him off financially.  (If Akin wins however, I doubt the GOP will not want his vote in the Senate)

“I’m in this race for the long haul and we’re going to win it” he said, adding “By taking this stand, this is going to strengthen our country, it will strengthen the Republican Party”

Whether he eventually withdraws or wins, Todd Akin has indeed given Republicans an opportunity to strengthen their party. He has given the GOP a chance to define themselves.

But first, Republicans will have to answer the question: who are we? Because the historic Republican Party is in the middle of an identity crisis.

The first step in the process will be to recognize that the United States is a Republic, not a Theocracy and there is a separation of church and state for a reason.

While it would be impossible for your beliefs not to influence who you are and how you approach your life and your duties, those seeking public office should be able to pass the litmus test of being able to check those beliefs at the door.

Because elected officials represent everyone, not just those who supported them.

Unfortunately, buried deep inside the current Tea Party movement are many more like Todd Akin – many others with radical, extreme views on a wide variety of important issues, who now have a home and a soapbox on which to stand and yell.

The Tea Party has been taken over by these radicals and the Republican Party has been taken over by the Tea Party. Witness how they’ve managed to place their man, Paul Ryan on the ticket, one heartbeat or 8 years away from the Presidency. This fact alone makes it near impossible for Mitt Romney to move away from this group entirely. And even if he did, having lost the center, what would he have left to work with?

Exposed as inept by the mortgage crisis, Iraq and extreme partisanship, no longer able to hide their favoritism of the rich and powerful at the expense of those less successful, their 30 year old playbook written by Newt Gingrich is out of plays.

Their ideas, values, policies and message are being questioned in real-time thanks to Twitter and Facebook and other forums of discussion. In these public and wholly democratic forums, people are coming to their own conclusions, forming communities of thought that are almost immune to the daily barrage of spin spewed by politicians and special interests and reported as news by the mainstream media. And while that lack of control is a serious problem for all political parties, it especially hurts the GOP. And they know it.

Witness the daily negative headline from Matt Drudge about Facebook and you will see a concerted effort to marginalize and minimize social media – to paint it as unsuccessful and questionable. All in an effort to diminish its effectiveness. Free thought, as a movement, has historically been an issue for governments, but it is especially difficult for conservatives.

So, unable to control the message and void of serious, substantive and plausible ideas, the GOP has embraced these men and women of the far right, who bring with them a reliable, albeit vocal, voting block. They also bring along with them expectations of action, and as a result the GOP has veered wildly to the right and has left behind any hope of capturing the center of American politics.

And when political movements veer to the extreme, they need to paint the other side as extremist as well, using words like socialist, marxist, communist and irresponsible, all while using language and tone laced with negativity and vitriol. Or, when attempting a more positive message, they offer only lofty platitudes, wrapping themselves in the flag and freedom, while revealing little about their short term or long term plans for governing. When any political entity resorts to those types of strategies, they are desperate and out of ideas. They’ve spun out of control.

This is not to infer that there are not extreme views on both ends of the political spectrum.  There are. But just as you can’t let the will of the majority infringe upon the rights of a minority, you must not allow a vociferous minority to set policy for the majority.

Yes, this is indeed a fight for the heart of the Republican Party.

To win this fight, moderate Republicans will have to cast aside the overreaching influence of extremists and the temptation to court any group for any reason to get their vote. They must revisit their long held commitment to Classical Liberalism and offer Americans an honest, fair and sensible path forward.

It will require an honest reassessment of their entire platform carried out by men and women of vision, long term strategic thinkers who are willing to put their country above a few votes or a few dollars, who are willing to work with everyone and anyone, who are willing to take risks and who are willing to lead.

A cynical person will view the temporary abandoning of Todd Akin as a calculated political decision made by a machine who want complete control in November.

An optimist would hope, just for a moment, that perhaps the tolerance of intolerance within the GOP is out of steam.

And a Wary Lemming will tell his Republican readers:

It’s time to take your party back.

But if you wait, it may well be too late.

Valuing Stakeholders Not Stockholders, Apple Becomes Most Valuable Company Ever

In case you missed it, Apple’s stock price closed yesterday at $665.16, giving it a market cap of $623.51 billion dollars. (All figures USD)

Earlier in the day, when it passed $664, Apple became the most valuable company in history, when measured this way (and, pretty much any other way as well…)

I will admit, given my past comments here, and here,  that there is a certain irony in using Apple’s market capitalization to make a point.

However, since this is the language spoken by those who worship this particular god, I hope you’ll allow this indulgence.

So why, you ask, is this on The Wary Lemming?

Because there are lessons to be learned here.

It underscores that point I was making about Papa John Schnatter, who’s main concern, when wrestling with the inevitable “Obamacare”, was the continued maximizing of shareholder value – while ignoring the stakeholders.

And when you care primarily about shareholder value, your business philosophy reflects this. You put making a profit as your top priority, above good products and good services. You squeeze and cut at the expense of quality and on the backs of your emplyees to keep your share price up and to pad your own wallet. You feed the beast and starve the baby.

This has been Business 101 since we gave up the “retain and reinvest” practice of business, moved on to “downsize and distribute” and finally ended up with Papa John’s example of “our share price is job 1″.

Apple proves, definitively that not only is this wrong headed – it is wholly unnecessary. From 1995, Apple under Steve Jobs adhered to most of the principles of retain and reinvest, including no dividends, no stock buybacks and no leveraging. *

Build insanely great products, and everything else will follow.

It is a well reported fact, that under Jobs, Apple did not care about shareholder value. Jobs, while admittedly a master salesman, really did focus on making great products.  He cared about the stakeholders – the customers and the employees. He cared about bettering society.

Jobs flaunted his lack of concern about the stock market regularly, as was well reported, with quotes like “the press and the stock price will take care of themselves”, and it irked many on Wall Street.

But they bought the stock anyway.

There are many who downplayed Apple’s statements about creating great products for their customers as disingenous spin, spun by a master weaver of sales. But one only had to look at the products themselves and then to Apple’s actions as a company, to realize that they were wrong.

Apple makes best-of-class products at a great profit. They provide best-of-class customer service, their products are best-of-class in reliability. They have a loyal customer base that is second to none and while there are undoubtedly some disgruntled employees within such a  large company, there are very few running off to greener pastures.  They reward hard work appropriately.

Apple has done more to advance working conditions in their suppliers’ Chinese factories than any other US company.  They were doing this long before the New York Times tried to paint them with the same brush as everyone else. And, they have continued this focus, quietly, without overt PR, because it is the right thing to do. It is in their DNA.

An American success story from top to bottom, like Edison and Ford, and a template for corporate philosophy. All without worrying about shareholders and instead – focusing on the stakeholders.

Wikipedia defines stakeholder value as:

“the intrinsic or extrinsic worth of a business measured by a combination of financial success, usefulness to society, and satisfaction of employees, the priorities determined by the makeup of the individuals and entities that together own the shares and direct the company.”

Add loyal, happy customers and it sure sounds like Apple to me.

Ask yourself this:

If more companies focused on pleasing their customers as Apple has, what kind of economy would you have?

If more elected officials followed the same premise and focused on providing you the best product possible, their representation, what kind of country would you have?

That’s one experiment I’d like to see carried out on a large scale.  And we have Apple to thank for proving it works.

It’s time to “Think Different”

 

* (Yes, Tim Cook has instituted a small dividend now, but not at the expense of the core business philosophy at Apple.  And, I would argue that this milestone in Apple’s history was achieved due to years of direction by Steve Jobs.)

Todd Akin, Abortion and Legitimacy

I’ve spent a considerable amount of time here talking about leadership, and I think it is fair to say that we all respond best to leaders who are not afraid to say what they think, how they feel, and to honestly communicate what they see ahead for us.

Even when we completely disagree with their vision, it is easier to respect them if we believe that they believe.

So it is of great interest to me to take a look at this weekend’s comments by Senate Candidate and Congressman Todd Akin of Missouri.

Appearing on St. Louis television station KTVI-TV, Congressman Akin said the following when asked about abortion in cases of rape:

“Well you know, people always want to try to make that as one of those things, well how do you, how do you slice this particularly tough sort of ethical question?

First of all, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare.

If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.

But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.”

So we can discern from Akin’s comments that he is not in favor of abortion in the event of a “legitimate rape” due to his belief that the body can stop the pregnancy itself. (I’m sure we’d all like to learn more on this phenomenon from his expert panel of “doctors”)

The follow up question that is missing here, is asking him to define “legitimate rape” vs an illegitimate one.

Now, I can’t speak for Akin, and unfortunately for him, his silence on this lets us draw our own conclusions.  When we try to do so, we discover that this is not a new line of thinking from those within his political sphere, who believe what Akin does.

For example, in 1995, North Carolina Republican Representative Henry Aldridge made these remarks to the House Appropriations Committee as it debated a proposal to eliminate a state abortion fund for poor women:

“the juices don’t flow, the body functions don’t work” during an attack.

Maybe then, if it is a case of a rape that takes place on a date, after some other forms of intimacy, when the juices are flowing, it is not counted as a “legitimate rape”?

I always thought, no meant no, but maybe that’s just me…

What about Akin’s past?  Any clues to his views there?  Any other remarks that might shed some light?

Well, in June 2011, Akin was discussing NBC’s removal of the words”under God” from a video clip of the Pledge of Allegiance. Akin told radio host Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council:

“Well, I think NBC has a long record of being very liberal, and at the heart of liberalism really is a hatred for God and a belief that government should replace God…. This is a systematic effort to try to separate our faith and God, which is a source in our belief in individual liberties, from our country. And when you do that you tear the heart out of our country.”

Two days later, Akin said he would not apologize, because he really meant that not all liberals hate God, but that liberals have “a hatred for public references for God.”

The next day, he further elaborated:

“People who know me and my family know that we take our faith and beliefs very seriously. As Christians, we would never question the sincerity of anyone’s personal relationship with God. My statement during my radio interview was directed at the political movement, Liberalism, not at any specific individual. If my statement gave a different impression, I offer my apologies.”

So, even though in serious damage control mode, he stuck to his core beliefs, parsed a few words, and agree with him or not, showed a willingness to not back down much on those particular beliefs.

Fast forward to the fallout from his “legitimate rape” comments and this is what he said:

“In reviewing my off-the-cuff remarks, it’s clear that I misspoke in this interview and it does not reflect the deep empathy I hold for the thousands of women who are raped and abused every year.”

He misspoke.

My question is, in which part was he mis-speaking? That the hand of God will intervene in the cases of legitimate rape? And his remarks were not “off the cuff”, they were part of a planned, sit down TV interview.

So much for leadership this time around.

Both sides will run to define him of course, and both sides will use it as a wedge issue to further their own ambitions. But nothing speaks truth like fact. And we have those facts in his own words. We know what he really believes.

And if you’re in Missouri, and you agree with him on this issue, then he’s your man.  Unless perhaps, you also value leadership.

Because, also on display here is Todd Akin’s unwillingness to lead.

Mr. Akin, if you really believe this stuff, why back down? Speak up. Stick to your guns. That’s what leaders do, even in the face of adversity. Look at Rick Santorum.  Sure he lost, but he didn’t wiggle around his core beliefs.

Or, you can back down, do what’s politically expedient and hope to live on to fight another day.  You can hope that in November, this will all have blown over.

And if you do, you are just another opportunistic politician that people claim to dislike.

One who fails the legitimacy test.

 

UPDATE:

Akin appeared on former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s radio show on August 20, 2012:

“I was talking about forcible rape… It (legitimate) was absolutely the wrong word.”

So, forcible rape is what he meant.  Meaning, my earlier thoughts above are correct:

Maybe then, if it is a case of a rape that takes place on a date, after some other forms of intimacy, when the juices are flowing, it is not counted as a “legitimate rape”?

I always thought, no meant no, but maybe that’s just me…

Nice of Akin to clear that up by appearing on such an unbiased program.

Starving The Beast – Martin Wolf: Paul Ryan’s Plan For America Is Not Credible

Excellent facts-based piece by Martin Wolf at the Finacial Times.

A must read for anyone interested in being an informed voter – no matter on what side of the political aisle you sit.

My favorite snippet:

” Indeed, the “starve the beast” theory explicitly aims at cutting taxes, in order to increase deficits and so justify cuts in spending. From this point of view, the financial crisis has been a boon. The crisis, which occurred on George W. Bush’s watch, is far and away the most important explanation for today’s huge deficits. But it came after unfunded tax cuts, unfunded wars and the unfunded prescription drug benefit (Medicare D).

The fiscal mess the Republicans bequeathed made it difficult – indeed, given Republican opposition, impossible – for the Obama administration to implement a stimulus plan on the scale needed, as Bruce Bartlett, a former official in the Reagan administration, notes in a blog post for Economix. Not that Republicans have anything against stimulus, provided it takes the form of unfunded tax cuts.”

The part that bothers me is the sneaky way in which the Starve The Beast plan is sold to voters.  Instead of telling you the end game, and letting you choose to support it, conservatives in the US and Canada wrap it up in words and phrases like liberty, freedom, big government, your money, out of control spending and the like.

They make government the enemy.

The bigger fraud however, is how North American voters have been swayed to believe that conservative governments are better stewards of the economy.

In the last 30 years, they most certainly have not.

In fact, it could easily be argued that during that period of time, more economic damage has been done by conservatives in national office than by any other governing party.

Reagan, Mulroney, Bush (both) and Harper all presided over some of the worst fiscal messes and decisions in recent memory. When replaced in office, the clean up was left to the other side to implement. (Clinton, Chretien, and now Obama)

The facts are there for the finding.

 

Tobacco, Climate Change, Denials And Inevitability

The Lancet has published the largest ever tobacco study ever undertaken, and the results are staggering.

The new study, the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS), focused on countries in which smoking is known to be a growing problem and the WHO warns that “if current trends continue, it will cause up to one billion deaths in the 21st century.”

Let me repeat that: Tobacco use = 1 billion deaths this century.

I can still remember the CEO’s of America’s major tobacco companies appearing at the Hearing on the “Regulation of Tobacco Products House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health and the Environment”.

Under pressure for decades regarding scientific study after scientific study that indicated cigarettes were killing people, the CEO’s were finally called to the carpet.

The US Congress, after years of inaction caused by intense lobbying funded by those same tobacco companies, finally relented to the growing scientific evidence, and to public pressure, and got involved.

On April 14, 1994, this is what those CEO’s said:

REP. RON WYDEN: Let me begin my questioning on whether or not nicotine is addictive. Let me ask you first, and I’d like to just go down the row, whether each of you believes that nicotine is not addictive. I heard virtually all of you touch on it. Yes or no, do you believe nicotine is not addictive?

MR. WILLIAM CAMPBELL, CEO PHILLIP MORRIS
I believe nicotine is not addictive, yes.

REP. RON WYDEN: Mr. Johnston?

MR. JAMES JOHNSTON, RJR TOBACCO
Mr. Congressman, cigarettes and nicotine clearly do not meet the classic definition of addiction. There is no intoxication.

REP. RON WYDEN: We’ll take that as a “no.” Again, time is short. I think that each of you believe that nicotine is not addictive. We would just like to have this for the record.

MR. JOSEPH TADDEO, US TOBACCO
I don’t believe that nicotine or our products are addictive.

MR. ANDREW TISCH, LORILLARD TOBACCO
I believe that nicotine is not addictive.

MR. EDWARD HORRIGAN, LIGGETT GROUP
I believe that nicotine is not addictive.

MR. THOMAS SANDEFUR, BROEN AND WILLIAMSON
I believe that nicotine is not addictive.

MR. DONALD JOHNSTON, AMERICAN TOBACCO
And I, too, believe that nicotine is not addictive.

All of these men would have known that their own internal research proved otherwise.  All of these men would have known that they had been adding extra nicotine to the product for years to grow addiciton and sales.

Yet, having lived a lie for so long, having spent millions and millions of dollars denying there was a problem, they ended up looking like fools.

Despite these obvious denials, it was not very long before laws were created to combat this scourge. Awareness campaigns were created. Smoking was no longer “cool”.

As marketing laws in North american tightened, companies looked to the developing world, where they could easily target younger people with their tobacco advertising.  They targeted places with far less regulation, where they could sell a product that was a known killer.

And not only has it worked, it has paid off handsomely for the tobacco industry.

I bring this up because as a denial movement, it appears an almost perfect copy of what is happening with climate change.

As I explained in my last post, the tobacco industry had to invent a way to combat growing scientific consensus.  This was so successful, it likely delayed meaningful legislation by 50 years, killing tens of thousand or more.

Just like the tobacco industry, the players who are responsible for CO2 emissions and those who benefit from it, have hired powerful PR firms, spent tens of millions of dollars lobbying governments, and have created fake organizations who’s sole existence is to sow doubt about real scientific research.

These fake organizations assume official sounding names like “Friends of Science“, “Natural Resources Stewardship Project” and many others. These fake groups then go out and commission studies that come to the conclusions they need, and polls are created to get the results they want.

News outlets, who are sympathetic to their biggest advertisers, report on these polls and studies, as if there is a 50/50 debate among real scientists.  They mislead by skewing headlines to suit their own agenda.

This selling of fake doubt, along with well funded lobbying in the US and Canada has led to real scientists being censored by politicians.

And the public has been misled.

There are several reasons why companies such as Exxon and Shell have had some success playing the global warming denial card.

David McKnight, an associate professor at the University of New South Wales puts it best:

“First, the implications of the science are frightening. Shifting to renewable energy will be costly and disruptive. Second, doubt is an easy product to sell. Climate denial tells us what we all secretly want to hear. Third, science is portrayed as political orthodoxy rather than objective knowledge, a curiously postmodern argument,”

And while the tobacco industry is the template for the fossil fuel industry’s campaign, McKnight says that there is an important distinction:

“There are no ‘smoke-free areas’ on the planet. Climate denial may turn out to be the world’s most deadly PR campaign.”

1 billion dead this century from smoking.

And we now know, completely, that the science on tobacco was always 100% correct. We look back and wonder, how could they have been so easily fooled?

What will the numbers be due to the denial of climate change?

There’s one study I don’t want to have to read.

Hindsight is always 20/20, but is always too late.

 

Selling Doubt In Canada Works When It Comes To Climate Change

A few days ago, I noted an article from the CBC in Canada that quoted a new report from The European Space Agency.

Among other things, this report stated that:

“Arctic sea ice is melting at a pace so much faster than once thought that the latest projections say it might disappear by as soon as 2022, according to measurements from the European Space Agency.”

“ This rate of loss is 50% higher than most scenarios outlined by polar scientists and suggests that global warming, triggered by rising greenhouse gas emissions, is beginning to have a major impact on the region.”

So, why would anyone sell doubt about an issue as large as climate change?

Interestingly, the ESA report itself may contain a hint:

“In a few years the Arctic ocean could be free of ice in summer, triggering a rush to exploit its fish stocks, oil, minerals and sea routes.”

The chance to exploit resources and make money. Remember this point as you read on, and ask yourself, who would benefit?

Fast forward a few days to Canada’s conservative newspaper The National Post where the headline reads:

“Climate change is real, Canadians say, but they can’t agree on the cause”

Key points in the article are:

  • Almost every Canadian surveyed in the online Insightrix Research poll said they believe climate change is happening, but a clear rift emerged on the more specific, and politically important, question of whether humans or natural factors, or some combination, is the catalyst.
  • 32% of Canadians think climate change is occurring because of human activity
  • 54% think it is happening because of both human and natural causes
  • 9% think only nature is responsible
  • 2% think climate change is not happening at all
  • Those in Western Canada are far less likely to think it is man-made *

So, a report about the melting Arctic appears and almost immediately, we have a new poll showing that average Canadians don’t know for sure why?

Interesting.  Let’s dig a little deeper.

The poll was commissioned by IPAC-CO2.  Who are they anyway?  From their website:

IPAC-CO2 Research Inc., the International Performance Assessment Centre for Geologic Storage of Carbon Dioxide, is an environmental non-government organization (ENGO) created to provide independent risk and performance assessments of CO2 storage projects.

OK.  Sounds great!  But who are they really?

“Shell is a founding member of the Australian Government’s proposed Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute and involved in a range of CCS related projects including[1]:

“the International Performance Assessment Centre for Geologic Storage of CO2 (IPAC-CO2) in Canada, with the University of Regina and the Government of the province of Saskatchewan;

Wait!  Shell funds the research company.

And who is the pollster?

Insightrix Research, a company that just happens to be based in both Saskatchewan and Australia!

What a coincidence.

By the way, this is the same polling firm that released an almost identical poll of Saskatchewan residents in July 2012. It too was commissioned by IPAC-CO2.

But why?

If you have read the book Doubt Is Their Product by David Michaels, then you already know that hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent since the days of Big Tobacco (denying cigarettes caused cancer), on various efforts to mislead the public.  These include the ozone hole debate and now climate change.

As it pertains to climate change, nobody has written a better explanation than Dr. Jeff Masters at Weather Underground.  He explains in detail how the Manufactured Doubt Industry has swayed public opinion to favor their backer.

Until you understand how Hills and Knowlton invented Public Relations Doubt, you can’t begin to understand how to make sense of the news being sent your way every single day.

It is required reading for any Wary Lemming.

So how does this all relate to the story today in the National Post?

I’ve already written at length about being wary when it comes to your news source.  As the National Post has proven itself, it has little regard for facts, and is far more interested in pursuing an editorial agenda.

The opening line of their story reads: “Canadians are far from a consensus on what causes climate change…”

Yes.  Doubt!  Canadians can’t agree, Canadians aren’t sure…. So you shouldn’t be either! Nothing is settled!

Meanwhile, other news outlets lead with the idea that  “only 2% of Canadians believe that climate change is not occurring.”

Different take on the same information isn’t it?

Unfortunately, those in the 2% and the 9% camps can be found commenting in the forums at the National Post.  As for the rest of Canadians, they have been forced to endure a targeted misinformation campaign led, in this case, by Shell and supported by their own Conservative government using overtly biased news organizations like the National Post.

And the results are starting to show up in polls like this.

Know your news source and above all – be a Wary Lemming. It’s much better than being an ostrich.

 

* likely because they are the ones benefitting from oil, gas and coal.

Quebec, Stephen Harper And The Decentralization Of Canada

Another Quebec provincial election, another cycle of hand wringing and debate about the future of Quebec and that of Canada.

The whole process repeats itself every four years or so, and very little ever really changes.

Except this time, it might actually turn out to be different.

John Ibbitson at The Globe and Mail has a neat little article explaining, among other things, why this scenario might give Prime Minister Stephen Harper a free pass to dismantle Canadian Federalism out in the open.

It has been well know for years that Mr. Harper is as right wing an ideologue as your most fervent US Tea Partier.  In fact, the blueprint for his Reform Party takeover of Canada’s Progressive Conservative Party would be a good study for the American Tea Party movement. (They already have a foot in the door with the selection of Paul Ryan as Republican VP hopeful)

And Stephen Harper is not a Federalist.  He is not a man in favor of a strong, central, Federal Government.

Prior to his ascension to the Prime Minister’s Office, he had written at length about how he prefers more power (much more) for the provinces. How his favorite Province, Alberta, should “build a firewall” to protect its wealth and resources from the rest of Canada.

If you are thinking it is not very patriotic, you’d hear no argument from me.

If you think it is silly to base long term economic policy on a temporary cyclical uptick in one province’s economy, you’d get no argument from me either.

(Canadian history has shown that powerful provincial economies can fall, while once needy provincial economies can become net contributors to Canada)

So how does this tie in to a Quebec election?

Well, it is well known that Mr. Harper played a prominent role in drafting the Reform Party’s strategy for the 1995 Quebec referendum. In fact, he stood with then party leader Preston Manning in Montreal and introduced a twenty-point plan to “decentralize and modernize” Canada in the event of a “no” victory.

So, let’s say a separatist party wins the election in Quebec and they come to Ottawa asking for more goodies.  Now the Prime Minister, Mr. Harper has two choices. Yes, or No.

If he says yes, the other provinces will want equal treatment as spelled out in the 1997 Calgary Declaration.

If he says no, and as a result, Quebec holds a referendum on separation from Canada, there are two additional possible outcomes.

The first, obviously, is that Quebec votes Yes and begins negotiations to separate from Canada.  In this scenario, Mr. Harper is given the same opportunity to dismantle Canada into an association of Provinces as if he had agreed to their demands in the first place.

If Quebec votes No, I believe Mr. Harper will still use the opportunity, during the emotional time of a national unity crisis, to open a “dialogue” with the Provinces, under the guise of preventing this from ever happening again. Expect it to be much the same as he presented in 1995.

In all cases, Mr. Harper can begin to achieve his vision of a less united, decentralized, and more regional Canada.

It is important to point out that Canada is a Federal Parliamentary Democracy within a Constitutional Monarchy, not a Constitutional Republic like the United States.

Most of Mr. Harper’s ideas on the future of the Canadian union appear to be influenced by his admiration for the US style Republic, as he has indicated many times over the years while discussing these same provincial powers.

He and his Reform Party recognized early on that to achieve this, significant changes in Canada’s constitution would need to take place, such as an elected Senate.

Because he and his supporters are in fact, a significant minority in Canadian politics, despite recently forming a majority Government, there has been no political opportunity to push forward with these enormous changes.

Without such support and because such large scale constitutional rewrites require complete support from the provinces, only during a time of crisis would this be likely to happen.

Quebec may just give him the chance.

 

UPDATE:   Quebec elected a minority PQ government, with the incumbant Liberals trailing by four seats.

Canada’s Globe and Mail picked up on the themes of this article with their post-election editorial. They said: “This is a good moment for Mr. Harper to define his own vision for Canada… Mr. Harper prides himself on decentralizing power. Ms. Marois’s goal is the total decentralization of power – or, to put it another way, the centralization of power in Quebec City.”

Nice to see that The Globe and Mail also reads The Wary Lemming.