This book is a well written overview of Steven Harper's five years in power, and offers a good sense of his personality and the machine that he has built around him. The author perceives Harper as brilliant, but filled with paranoid hatred for anyone who is not in his neo-conservative camp, or could be conceived of as a threat to his compulsive desire for power and control.
Harper's means to power are described as involving a complete disregard for all the traditional checks and balances of the Canadian parliamentary system. Control has been ruthlessly centralized in the hands of the Prime Minister's Office, and the roles of the cabinet, the legislature, parliamentary committees, etc., almost annihilated. Censorship of public information is now so severe that one has the impression that Canada is controlled by a totalitarian regime. On a day to day basis Harper and his sycophantic followers are always on the attack, and their levels of cynicism and paranoia know no bounds. Wedge issues, lies, and personal attacks are the order of the day. These people can only be described as ideological thugs and bullys.
Harper's ends to power are to dismantle the traditional progressive values of Canada, by initiating policy platforms revolving around tax cuts, economic deregulation, tougher measures on crime, the support of traditional social values, etc. These are the same reactionary policies that have been used by the neo-cons of the United States, over the last 30 years, to drive that great country into the ground. They are based on mind-sets that deny the future rather than prepare for it.
Harper is known as the outsider's outsider, and one has a sense that this is what drives his hatred and paranoia. He despises the values of the majority of Canadians, and in spite of his brilliance and discipline, he is unable to control his extremism.
I must admit that reading this book was one of the most distasteful things that I have ever done. We are all aware of different elements of Harper's manipulation of our democratic values and institutions, but to have them laid out like this, one after the other, filled me with outrage and disgust. I have never been active politically before, but I will be for the coming election. Thanks Harper for the civics lesson.