So, Mr. Harper is afraid to debate Elizabeth May on TV – that is the real content of the decision by the Globe and the Munk Center to exclude her from the televised leaders debates.
It is easy to understand – discretion is the better part of valour. Mr. Harper is so far on the wrong side of history on the environmental issues – not to mention others, like civil rights, that he really can’t face May without looking like a fool or a bully.
He isn’t the only candidate up against Greens who can argue rings around them. Think of the poor Conservative (Maureen Comuzzi-Stehman), Liberal (Patty Hajdu) and NDP (Andrew Foulds) candidates in Thunder Bay up against Burce Hyer. Or The Guelph candidates (Lloyd Longfield, Andrew Seagram) facing retired environmental commissioner Gordon Miller.
In ridings all across the country old-line politicians are going to lose the all-candidates debates and win be because they have more money for signs and ads. That is democracy, I guess, but Mr. Harper is afraid of even that much exposure. He has money for his nasty ads and he uses public money to praise his not very effective program, but he is still afraid of meeting Elizabeth May in public.
Much of Harper’s government policy is based on fear. Most people think he uses fear to stir up his conservative voters – that he is simply manipulative. I suspect that he personally is as frightened as his constituency. I suspect he is really personally unnerved by crime even though it is declining, and terrorism even though the real risk is tiny compared to automobiles and climate change. I suspect that on some level he thinks guns will protect him. These are all signs of fearing other people. They are signs that he can’t build a society based on trust and cooperation. Ultimately that personality-type can only undermine civil society. Until the psych report is in we won’t really know. Meanwhile his fearfulness corrodes what is best in Canadian society, including democratic debate.