Canadians barely lifted an eyebrow in surprise when it was revealed that our Prime Minister had an “enemies list” compiled as a warning to newly-minted cabinet ministers laying out who they can’t trust. I mean, we’ve lived with Harper as leader long enough not be shocked by anything that seems petty, autocratic, paranoid or Republican.
So what if the list was so long it had to be delivered in several boxes and had more names than the GTA white pages?
The Toronto Star editorialized about how the “PMO’s derisive and adversarial tone is rightly ringing alarm bells.” Clearly they haven’t been paying close attention to the PMO these past several years. Most Canadians assumed the PMO had trademarked “derisive” and “adversarial” as their own.
Then they threw in what’s become another meme: the comparison between Harper and former US President, Richard Nixon and, inevitably, Watergate:
The comparison to Nixon is unsettling. The disgraced former president was thought to view dissenters as adversaries to be destroyed rather than debated. The enemies list is just the latest piece of evidence that Prime Minister Stephen Harper has a tendency to think the same way.
Uh huh. Harper-as-Nixon isn’t necessarily a bad thing, from Harper’s perspective. After all, Nixon made a successful comeback from being the butt of media jokes to being the President. Sure he lied and schemed his way into the job; he was mistrustful, suspicious, controlling, manipulative and dishonest. But that’s not a bad role model for Stephen. Some might argue Stephen is far more cunning and treacherous than Nixon ever was. Maybe he considered it high praise.*
And Nixon had a List. Twenty names, that’s all. Well, that and the 576 names on his Other List. But for a country with more than 200 million at the time, 596 enemies isn’t all that many. Barely enough to fill a regiment. Stephen can do better, Surely he can muster at least a division’s worth of enemies. Maybe even a whole corps of them.
Andrew Coyne, writing in the NatPost with biting tongue-in-cheek, basically made the point that the list of perceived enemies might actually be close to infinite.
The PM (or at least the PMO) is suspicious of or fears anyone who doesn’t share Stephen’s ideology. That person goes on the list.
That’s a big list, since one of his favourite political games seems to be “guess what I’m thinking” – the loser gets booted out of caucus, the winner gets to sit in a minister’s chair (until the next round). Just ask Helena. Or Peter Kent.
Start the list with the ousted cabinet ministers who were caught by surprise last week when they came to work and found someone scraping their name off the glass. Your new office Mr. Kent? You know that room down in the basement beside the boiler, the one where we keep the mops and buckets? Yeah, that one… yeah, yeah, tell it to the PMO…
Follow that with the entire civil service. What’s not been gutted or neutered, that is. The Senate (including the Tory side, which had a rude awakening this spring when it discovered it was no longer entitled to take everything not nailed down, then charge it back to the public purse…). Quebec. The CBC. Well, as Coyne points out, most of the media is probably on that list (aside, one suspects, from some sycophantic Sun columnists…). Liberals. NDPers. First Nations. Environmentalists. Seniors. Veterans. Backbenchers. The USA. China.
All you need to do to get a place on the enemies list is to have once even looked at a Liberal campaign flyer. Maybe just peeking at a photo of Justin Trudeau is enough. Or perhaps you once read the TorStar (Sun readers can relax, it seems). Breathing might be a qualification, too.
As The Tyee noted, being on the enemies list isn’t all that bad. It might be a badge of honour, even:
Being on the official Harper Enemies List would be an honour indeed. In certain circles it would be more prized than the Order of Canada. The promotional potential would be immense. An annual ceremony announcing the new Enemies List names might well rival the release of the Giller Prize shortlist or the Hockey Hall of Fame selections for public excitement. Intense lobbying would precede the announcement — perhaps even ad campaigns, as with the Oscars. “Submitted for your approval: John Doe, who really frosted the PM’s balls this year.” Failing to make the enemies list would be crushing. It would signal that all your activism, all your organizing, all your hard work, was just so much dandruff on the PM’s shoulders. In politics, you’re nobody till somebody hates you.
Newsman Daniel Schorr and Paul Newman both agreed that inclusion on Nixon’s list was their greatest accomplishment. Like Hester being proud of her ‘A’. Maybe Canadians will walk around with a big ‘E’ sewn on their shirts.
So what, I wondered, would that list look like if Stephen Harper were somewhere else. What if he became the mayor of Collingwood, right now… who would be on his enemies list then?
I think his list would read something like this:
- Paul Bonwick. Main crime: being Liberal. And not only that, we was a successful Liberal MP. Accomplished things. Gained renown and respect. Successful businessman since leaving politics. Unforgivable.
Secondary crime: he’s related to Sandra Cooper.
- Anyone associated with Paul Bonwick. Relatives, friends, co-workers, acquaintances, people who work in the same building, people he passes on the street, or bumps into in the coffee shop, anyone within 50 lines of his listing in the White Pages. Tainted by Liberalism, the lot of them. Heads must roll.
- Anyone associated with anyone associated with Paul Bonwick. We can’t be too careful. Liberalism may be contagious. Consider town-wide incarcerations.
- Sandra Cooper. Not only is she also a Liberal and Paul Bonwick’s sister, she is a mayor. Liberal mayors are in a separate category of enemy, like one of Dante’s circles of Hell. She has spoken aloud and in public against our minions, whom we must protect. Treasonous behaviour.
Secondary crime: soft on authoritarianism. She hasn’t spied on any of her staff’s or council’s emails, nor has she made a single presentation on behalf of a developer. In her entire time as mayor, she didn’t put a single one of her MP’s junk-mail flyers on the council consent agenda.
- Ed Houghton. A man who golfs with Liberals is clearly a threat to society. Besides, he oversaw the sale of the town’s electrical utility and not a dime of those funds was funnelled into the local Conservative party treasury. How else can we pay for all those senators if not by graft?
When he was acting CAO, he implemented a socialist administrative scheme he called the “executive management team.” Autocrats don’t have teams, they rule by divine right, and get things done by shouting at inferiors. Never trust a leader who asks for advice.
Besides, he makes jokes. Leaders don’t encourage inferiors to laugh. You never know when they might be laughing at you, not with you.
- Rick Lloyd. Being a Conservative won’t save the Deputy Mayor. He didn’t find any way to pad the local Conservative coffers in the town’s budget, so that was a black mark. He didn’t check the political allegiance of the companies building the new rec facilities and probably voted to grant a contract to a non-Conservative. Another black mark. Always check allegiances before raising the hand, Rick.
Secondary crime: He knows Paul Bonwick, so is a guilty Liberal by association. He’s also been seen having coffee with arch fiend, Councillor Chadwick, a double whammy.
- Kevin Lloyd. Don’t try to tell us that the councillor isn’t related to the deputy mayor. Look at their names! They vote together, like Siamese twins joined at the shoulder.
He voted for the new rec facilities despite strong opposition from our local minions. Besides, he owns property in the socialist organization, the BIA, and has never spoken out against them.
He has consorted with the deputy mayor at local coffee shops. Guilty by association. A closet Liberal if ever these was one.
- The Collingwood Connection. Local media outlet that has proven balanced, objective and fair. This is not the media model we prefer. Where are the ad hominem attacks, the innuendo, the allegation, the misrepresented data, or the imaginary figures masquerading as facts? The slurs against Liberals? The castigating letters from our minions? Clearly this is a Liberal rag that can’t be trusted to toe the party line.
- Dick Hill Former mayor of Inuvik, retired here. Outspoken against the inanities of local bloggers, and stands up in the media against falsehoods and verbal abuse. Can’t have that. What would happen if everyone in town spoke out? It would be anarchy. Or Liberalism. He sets a bad example.
- Larry Irwin: Being quiet, apolitical, unassuming,easygoing and competent is no excuse. He sued a minion for defamation. If everyone was allowed to sue these bloggers for their lies, their innuendo and their petty attacks, they might get shut down. When people stop cowering and fight back against injustice and stupidity, the whole plan goes awry.
- Steve Assaff. A Liberal developer. What more do you need to know?
- Dale West, Mike Edwards, Sandy Cunningham. These town councillors collectively voted for the new rec facilities which our minions protested. That makes them enemies of the state.
They have done nothing to denounce Paul Bonwick or the Liberals this term, either. And they laughed at Ed Houghton’s jokes (a sign of mental and moral decay).
- John Brown. Acting CAO hired to get things back on track in town hall. Dangerous because he appears competent, has no political allegiances and shows common sense. That makes our minions look bad.
Besides, he was hired by Liberals. Better file a passel of pointless FOI requests to keep him too busy to interfere with our plans.
- Ian Chadwick. Anarchist, iconoclast. Reads books. Can spell words like egregious and excoriating without a spellchecker. Dares to comment on social media. Plays the ukulele (an instrument developed by Communist plantation workers). Stood up to former mayors and challenged bad process. He once shook hands with Jack Layton (greater men have been hung for less). He does contract work for Paul Bonwick (working for Liberals is unmitigated evil: better to be unemployed).
Clearly not a team player. Thinks too much to be allowed to remain on council.
- Georgian Manor. The resort owners spoke out in favour of a casino, taking a stand against our minions. This makes them enemies of the state, too. Besides, they once offered Paul Bonwick some contract work. That Liberal taint, again. Raze it to the ground and salt the earth.
- Town Hall Staff. They have failed miserably at undermining council’s Liberal agenda despite urging from our minions. Councillors remain at large and continue to confound our plans. Staff were warned: obey the bloggers or suffer eternal damnation. The torments of Hell await unless they start doing our will.
- Voters. Anyone who has ever put a Liberal or NDP campaign sign on their lawn or even opened their door to an opposition candidate. We must eliminate this scourge. People should vote for one party only. Ours. Any other option is socialism. Vote as we tell you. Our minions will direct you for the upcoming municipal election.
- Swimmers. Our minions oppose the new swimming pool. Until it can be torn down, anyone, young or old, who uses it will be deemed a saboteur, wrecker, oppositionist, Menshevizing idealist and Liberal Trudeauskyite. Round them up at the pool entrance. Confessions will be required. Names will be posted on minions’ blogs as a warning to others.
- Elvis Festival. Everyone involved must be purged. Doesn’t matter how successful it’s been, or how popular it is. I don’t like the music. Therefore no one can like the music. Too many people have fun during the event. Our minions are ignored for days until it’s over. Besides, rock & roll and dancing are the devil’s work. Close it down!
There would be more, of course. Many more. Facebook friends with Lloyd or Chadwick? On the list you go. Follower on Twitter? You get added. Sit on a board or committee with them? You’re probably plotting to bring down civilization with your Liberal friends. On the list with you all. Bought flowers in Lloyd’s shop? Sold a ukulele to Chadwick? Or even just ukulele strings? Listed. Ask the mayor to cut the ribbon for your new business? Laughed at Ed Houghton’s jokes? Hummed an Elvis tune? Listed.
Of course, these criminals and Liberal sympathizers will probably think being on Our List is an honour. But no matter. We’ll make them sorry they ever wore the colour red.
* Why, one wonders, not Joe McCarthy? Moboto Sese Seko? Idi Amin? Mao Tse Tung? What sort of cachet does Nixon have that so many dictators lack?
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Of course, this is humour. Self-deprecating, at that. Little poke in the ribs, nudge, nudge, wink, wink. You did realize that, didn’t you? Ah, good. Probably read the tag: “humour” and figured it out. Or maybe the sheer tongue-in-cheekiness of the writing gave it away.
Apparently not everyone got it, which is why humour is sometimes so difficult to write. Sometimes you have to explain your jokes, carefully and slowly, and that just puts a damper on the whole thing. Some folks just don’t get it, even then.
I don’t really know how to write for those folk. I don’t want to have to start every humorous piece with a caveat that says “The following is meant to be witty/ironic/sardonic/funny. Please laugh at the indicated places. If you don’t understand the humour within, please order my e-book, ‘How Humour Works’ for the low price of $10; order form at the end of the post.”
You also realized that was a joke, too, right? I never know. Probably someone will write a blog post about how I offended them by trying to sell them a book. It’s a crazy world, at times. Some days it seems I only have to sneeze to get some blogger posting that I have the plague and people are dying of it on my street.
And you probably realized that this piece was, in part, in response to a political writer’s piece about a national issue. That’s what happens in the blogosphere: people respond to other items, to one another. It didn’t confuse you or cause you to lose sleep tying to understand that, did it? Ah, good.
And in part it was a response to the local conspiracy theorists who see evil intent in every act, every comment, and everyone who isn’t part of their tightly-knit little group. Well to them, I can only quote Edward III’s famous line: “Honi soit qui mal y pense.”
Thanks for reading this far. Enjoy the rest of the blog…