What might Stephen Harper do in his fourth term as prime minister?

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      No one can dispute that Stephen Harper is having a huge impact on Canada. As he approaches his 10th anniversary as Canadian prime minister, it's obvious in so many ways.

      We're at war in the Middle East. Civil liberties are under fire in Parliament through Bill C-51. Soon, judges will be able to authorize police in advance to violate people's constitutional rights under the government's antiterrorism law.

      Meanwhile, Conservative cabinet ministers routinely introduce legislation to do end runs around Supreme Court of Canada rulings, whether that concerns prostitution, supervised-injection sites, or First Nations' rights.

      Democracy-thwarting omnibus legislation has become the norm at budget time. Government secrecy is far more extreme than ever before. Foreign policy is crafted with an eye to how many votes it can yield at home.

      Canadians' confidential information is routinely being shared with foreign governments. And evidence is mounting that the federal government is conducting espionage abroad on behalf of Canadian corporations and at home without seeking judicial warrants.

      Meanwhile, there's almost a Leviticus-like attitude toward criminal justice. The government doesn't trust judges to satisfy Harper's socially conservative base. Therefore, the government has imposed more mandatory minimum sentences and restricted parole in some instances to ensure more punishment is meted out to those who break the law.

      Conservatives seem consumed with an us-and-them mentality and unfortunately, too often the "thems" include First Nations. In his book What We Talk About When We Talk About War, Noah Richler referred to this mindset as "epic thinking", which reached its zenith in Canada during the First World War.

      “The advantage of being able to characterize a whole group of people as a kind of monster at the edge of the territory—as wholly bad—is that absolves you from having to consider who these people are,” Richler explained to the Straight in 2012.

      At times, this government seems obsessed with breeding mistrust of "the other", whether it's a few Muslim women in Canada who wear niqabs or large groups of environmentalists who hold peaceful demonstrations because they're worried about the future of the planet.

      This raises an important question. What's next if the Conservatives win another majority in October, giving Harper his fourth term as prime minister? If he stays in office for another couple of years, he will surpass Jean Chrétien and become the country's fifth-longest-serving prime minister, ranking only behind Mackenzie King, John A. Macdonald, Pierre Trudeau, and Wilfred Laurier.

      Based on what's taken place during Harper's first majority government, here are a few predictions:

      • We will finally see the federal government introduce Section 33 of the Constitution Act, 1982 (the so-called notwithstanding clause) to pass legislation to override fundamental freedoms and rights outlined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

      • The Insite supervised-injection site in Vancouver will be forced to close, resulting in an increase in drug-overdose deaths in the city.

      • There will be legislative changes to make it tougher for inmates to obtain parole. As a result, higher incarceration costs will be passed down to the provinces.

      • More nonprofit organizations that the government disagrees with will be stripped of the legal right to issue tax receipts to donors. This action will not be taken against right-wing think tanks, such as the Fraser Institute or the Macdonald-Laurier Institute.

      • The Conservatives will begin a formal process—whether through a Commons committee investigation or by commissioning a report—to try to have ownership of private property enshrined as a constitutional right in Canada. If this long-term Harper objective is achieved, it will hamper future governments from passing environmental legislation that could infringe on this new constitutional right.

      • The Canadian Security Intelligence Service will be given policing powers in new legislation after the next election and there won't be any corresponding increase in oversight of the agency.

      • More legislative changes will be introduced to confer advantages on federally chartered financial institutions, including banks, that are competing with provincially chartered credit unions.

      • The Conservatives will continue signing free-trade agreements. This will hamstring provincial and local governments from passing legislation that affects the interests of multinational corporations.

      • Relations between the federal government and First Nations will continue to deteriorate, particularly in B.C., as Ottawa passes more laws designed to ram through unpopular industrial projects.

      • A Harper-led government will continue to refuse to participate in premiers' conferences concerning health care.

      • The government will expand its military operations, possibly with air strikes or putting Canadian special forces in Libya, Somalia, or other parts of Africa to confront Islamist groups. This will be applauded by Andrew Coyne and almost every other national columnist in the Postmedia chain.

      • The Canadian economy will continue to sputter as Harper refuses to take action to address income inequality, which is at the root of the malaise gripping the country.

      • Canada will become even more of an international pariah for its tepid response to the climate crisis.

      • Harper will profess neutrality in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. However, there will be a widespread perception in Canada that he'll be secretly cheering for the Republican candidate, particularly if Sen. Elizabeth Warren surprises everyone by entering the race and becoming the Democratic Party nominee.

      • Harper won't have anything good to say about Vladimir Putin or bad to say about Benjamin Netanyahu during his entire term of office. The Iranian embassy in Ottawa will remain closed.

      • Pressure will sharply increase across the country for the federal New Democrats and federal Liberals to merge to defeat the Conservatives in the 2019 election.




      Apr 3, 2015 at 11:52am

      Harper wasn't kidding when he said we would not recognize Canada when he was done with it.
      His entire agenda has been to enhance the profits of corporations at the expense of the provinces by downloading more and more the costs of social needs. The citizens of Canada can ill afford one more term of Harper's economic visions let alone his vision of what the rights and freedoms of Canadians should be. Before the next election people need to find the facts for themselves and be sure and vote. These facts will not be contained in any of the government adds we will be subjected to.


      Apr 3, 2015 at 1:13pm

      The laundry list of "will they" is almost identical to the lists that preceded previous elections. The chicken little fears of social conservatives banning abortion and forcing their mythology upon us simply havent come true. The Harpo Crimicons are after the same things as previous governments and have advanced the cause of repression but aren't going to ban same sex marriage. Unfortunately there is little critical analysis of the Con vote, or voters in general, because almost every journalist or commentator or "expert" poli sci prof is already conditioned to fit her/his "analysis" within a preconceived framework.

      Every government in my lifetime has been the product of an inequitable and illegitimate electoral system where some votes are worth more tha others. Every government in my lifetime has attacked protesters, sought to restrict civil liberties even as they promote them, and every majority PM has acted as a dictator running the country with his cronies in and out of cabinet. I don't find Harpo particularly worse than any of the dictators dating back to the 60's. What I do find amusing is the outrage over actions taken by previous PMs that suddenly become noticed when Harpo does them. His faux "majority" popular vote percentages are in the middle of many Liberal majority PMs since the 60's. People whined about lack of nationwide representation from Harpo yet Trudeau senior won majority governments without a single MP west of Manitoba!

      The system is flawed because the Constitution is flawed: every right the Charter protects can be over-ridden because of the ego of one man determined to have a bad document instead of no document. His legacy is a defacto unamendable CONstitution that was designed with the idea of perpetuating the traditional Liberal majority, guaranteeing that a vote east of Ontario will always have more weight than those west of Quebec. Protecting a system of inequitable representation and making any change to that system require the consent of the over-represented was genius.

      Harpo is dangerous but the sad fact is the next PM will continue most of the policies of his predecessor because the people who really want control are not the idiot politicans. The threat is the bureaucrats. The people who actually decide which laws get enforced and how legislation is worded are not the idiot MPs or PM: it is the lifelong "public servants."

      It's scary

      Apr 3, 2015 at 3:57pm

      And what about the conscription act which would force 18 year old men and women to join the military for at least one year. It was published by the CBC on March 31st and has mysteriously disappeared.


      Apr 3, 2015 at 5:59pm

      "... he'll be secretly cheering for the Republican candidate, particularly if Sen. Elizabeth Warren surprises everyone by entering the race and becoming the Democratic Party nominee." I don't get this: of course he will be endorsing the Republicans, let's just hope it's not Ted Cruz either. I would love to see Warren win over Hilary Clinton. But I don't think Harper will be supporting Clinton at all.

      John Peate

      Apr 3, 2015 at 7:50pm

      The Notwithstanding Clause was not Trudeaus' wish. It was a couple of Provincial governments that made it a condition of their agreement. Your post is nonsense.

      Smedly's Butler

      Apr 3, 2015 at 8:25pm

      Excellent predictions.

      We know who Stephen serves and it's not definitely not the citizens of Canada. It's basically the same people who ordered Canada to dare not make any application to join the Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank know as AIIB.


      Apr 4, 2015 at 8:50am

      What is always missing from commentaries such as this is the fact that the people in this country are generally conservative. The overwhelming support for bombing ISIL (in polls) is extremely instructive and is always avoided by left-leaning writers. I'm not sure why there is so much support but it's significant and shows that Canadians are not the peace-loving bunnies that we thought we were.

      Despite the strong opposition of the media, Harper is still the the one to beat in the next election. The fact that the opposition is weakened by dilution of the anti-Harper vote is one reason, but there is also a basic lack of understanding of the Canadian public by the media which leaves them struggling to invent conspiracies to explain the obvious fact that we are a right wing nation. The only hope is that historically we tend to clean house after too many years with the same government. The Conservatives are nearing their best-before date, but they aren't stale enough to prompt a visit to the store.

      Snooze button

      Apr 4, 2015 at 10:38am

      • "Pressure will sharply increase across the country for the federal New Democrats and federal Liberals to merge to defeat the Conservatives in the 2019 election."

      In the event of this happening Harpo will again run over to the to the GG's house and scream for a "prorogue" of parliament .

      Hannah Arendt

      Apr 4, 2015 at 10:46am

      Canada will become even more of an international pariah for Harper's continuing insistence on degradingly grovelling before Israel and Netinyahoo.

      Citizen 33 Million

      Apr 4, 2015 at 1:32pm

      Canadians don't seem to be alarmed of the following...;

      1. The Communist China Free Trade Treaty that effectively gives Communist China Sovereignty over ANY Canadian Natural Resource, NAFTA style but on Steroids,

      2. Canada being the MOST Sued Nation under NAFTA, Canada / Canadians facing Billions in Fines. Yup You and I pay for that regardless of your Political affiliation,

      3. 30 New Seats in Conservative riding's so they can ensure a Majority and remain in Power.,

      4. The highest amount of Deficits including Structural Deficits added to Canada in History, yup by the so called "Fiscally Conservative" CON servatives LOL,

      5. Oil & Gas little to No Royalties unlike Norway which has over a Trillion Dollars from Oil!

      Any reason Canadians think the Norway model is bad for Canada?

      Norway's model for natural resources Royalties would pay for everything with No Deficits.

      But hey give it to me I'm an oblivious Canadian eh!