It may be summer, but we’ve very likely entered the autumn of Conservative rule in Canada.
Six months ago, Stephen Harper hoped to ride a balanced budget and a wave of national security anxiety into a second majority government. Today, that prospect looks very dim indeed.
It’s appropriate, then, that yet another Harper acolyte is being aggressively disowned by the party that used and defended him until it became crystal clear a court was going to put him behind bars: in their near decade of government, the Conservatives have often functioned just inside, and occasionally just outside, of both laws and conventions.
By now it should be perfectly clear to all but the most dogmatic Conservative partisans that Dean Del Mastro is no anomaly: he’s the direct product – the natural outcome – of a style of politics designed to harden a core constituency, demotivate and demoralize the majority of the voting public, ignore and delegitimize legal and ethical constraints, and permanently reconfigure the country’s institutions in the interests of the Conservative Party.
When I saw the now widely circulated photo of Del Mastro in shackles earlier today, I couldn’t help but think of these words from Harper’s former advisor and confidant Tom Flanagan:
There is also a dark, almost Nixonian side to the man (Harper). He believes in playing politics right up to the edge of the rules, which inevitably means some team members will step across ethical or legal lines in their desire to win for the boss.
As expected, the usual cabal of shameless Conservative talking heads is now taking to the airwaves to officially disown the disgraced Del Mastro and minimize the political damage his conviction will inflict on their party. With the Duffy trial – a prosecution of yet another Harper ally defended and then disowned – continuing later this summer, I suspect we can look forward to a few final spectacles of this degrading agitprop.
Dishonest, cold, petulant, and utterly shameless.
The Harper government will die exactly as it has lived.