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Harperland: The Politics Of Control Paperback – Sep 20 2011

21 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Canada (Sept. 20 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143177656
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143177654
  • Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 2.4 x 20.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 318 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #152,505 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


"Perhaps the first serious attempt to take stock of Stephen Harper's time in power...with commentary and insight from select players [Lawrence Martin] catalogues this tumultuous time from controversy to calamity." - Maclean's

About the Author

Lawrence Martin is a Globe and Mail columnist and author of 10 books, including many critically acclaimed bestsellers including The Presidents and the Prime Ministers, The Red Machine (a history of hockey in the Soviet Union), and a two-volume biography of Jean Chrétien.

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49 of 55 people found the following review helpful By BWL on Feb. 11 2011
Format: Hardcover
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.
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66 of 76 people found the following review helpful By Doc1495 on Nov. 7 2010
Format: Hardcover
Lawrence Martin has produced a well researched and insightful look at a relentless, paranoid man who will use any means to achieve his personal goals. He paints a picture of a calculating politician who has undermined his mentors, and manufactured strategies to create one of the most centralized governments Canada has ever seen. Harper campaigned on a platform of "openness and transparency" and has gone on to create perhaps the most closed and opaque government in the history of the country. The most frightening conclusions of the book focus on Harper's distain for the principles and practices of democracy itself. Lawrence portrays a vengeful man who will book no debate, is antagonistic toward any view contrary to his own, and who will use any strategy to forward his personal philosophies, never, at any moment, acknowledging that the opposition represents a constituency of citizens who have a right to be heard and valued.

All this from a writer who is no Liberal hack. No, the Liberal party has felt Lawrence's sting in the past.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By D. MacKenzie on May 30 2011
Format: Hardcover
After reading this carefully written and researched chronicle of Harper's first years as our P.M., all I can think of is 'how can he be reined in'? Who is in a position to contain this vindictive, anti-democratic and dangerous man? I tremble for our country.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth Burrows on March 21 2011
Format: Hardcover
The consistently anti-democratic & freedom reducing administrative and policy decisions described in this book are saddening to any who believe that liberalism and responsible government are real and precious political options. This book, and the convincing summary of events and decisions at the end of the book, should cause one to do whatever possible to limit the growth of authoritarian government in Canada. Reading this books gives one a good understanding of the factors which are relevant to ensuring good government in our country.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By ronbc TOP 100 REVIEWER on Nov. 27 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Reminiscent of books like Bob Woodward’s Plan of Attack, which chronicled in careful detail the rush to war in George W. Bush’s White House, Lawrence Martin’s Harperland: The Politics of Control relies on insider stories to paint a portrait of Canada’s first hard-right Prime Minister.

It’s not a very pretty picture.

Martin makes no pretense of being objective. He clearly believes Stephen Harper to be the most dangerous threat to Canadian democracy in memory, perhaps in history. Martin’s portrayal of the man he calls “a control freak” is disturbing.

The first part of the book details the rise to power of the newly-merged Conservative Party, a re-branding of the right-populist Alliance Party and the wounded remnant of the Progressive Conservative Party. Much of the second half of the book outlines the Harper government’s policy positions and political maneuvers with respect to issues from the Afghanistan war, to the 2008 federal election, to the brazenly tradition-breaking move — many would say a blatantly undemocratic move — to prorogue Parliament rather than face a confidence vote his party would lose.

But the book’s main focus throughout is how the minority Conservative government is the product of the will and vision of one man, Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Martin pulls no punches in depicting a hard-nosed, take-no-prisoners politician, a practical ideologue, a right-wing incrementalist, always looking toward his long-term goals while working toward them step by measured step.

Although there is another, looser side to the guarded and uptight Stephen Harper we all observe in public, only his closest friends ever see it, and that only infrequently.
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