I’ve been very critical of Maclean’s in the past and expect to be so again in the future, but I would be amiss and unfair if I didn’t note the magazine houses the two best analysts of Canadian politics, Andew Coyne and Paul Wells. I was particularly taken with Coyne’s recent analysis of Canadian conservativism in the age of Harper as a politics of pure expediency, a politics for the sake of politics:
Stephen Harper’s Tories can run $56-billion deficits, raise spending to all-time record levels, and grease every Conservative riding with layers of pork; they can abandon Afghanistan, coddle Quebec, and adopt the NDP approach to foreign investment; and still there exists in people’s minds another Conservative party, somewhere, for whom these policies are anathema.
I suppose it’s possible these other Conservatives exist in theory, as a kind of Platonic ideal form. And so the principles commonly ascribed to them may also be said to exist, as abstractions. But if they never actually act on them, of what real-world significance are they? How is it meaningful to talk about them?
This gets at something real about Harper, his genuine lack of any fixed principles. There have been very few public figures quite as soulless as Harper.