From the here-we-go-again files, Canadians with Liberal Party lawn signs are finding tires slashed, brake lines cut, and their property vandalized. True to form some Conservative supporters are trying to lay the blame on the Liberals themselves (“Knowing the Liberals, they likely slashed their own tires in a bid for attention.”), or the NDP. But until someone is arrested for this criminal behaviour (and yes, it would still be a criminal act if a Conservative supporters’ tires were slashed) we’ll never know the truth.
But one thing we do know is that Stephen Harper has changed the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada into the party of choice for haters and fear-mongers, a safe haven for anyone who views a political opponent as the Antichrist, and indulges and even encourages a fearful populace: We need jets because the Russians are coming. We need more prisons because criminals are running amuck. Immigrants are taking our jobs and bringing terrorism to our shores. The Liberals/socialists/separatists are out to ruin the country. Michael Ignatieff is smart. Jack Layton is a Taliban lover.
It’s an unrelenting message of fear - fear of the future, your neighbours, a coalition, your (“Lieberal”) friends, the new (and different) family down the street. And those message tracks resonate most strongly with the perpetually angry, those who feel disenfranchised in some way and want to even the score. It’s the Palin effect and it drives a certain behaviour, a behaviour which I believe is sometimes manifested in slashed tires because someone truly hates you for having a different political viewpoint.
That’s why I intend to vote for a message of hope on May 2. We can have a strong democracy and solid fiscal management. We can be compassionate without triggering a crime spree. We can defend our borders without writing blank cheques for jets and imprisoning refugees. And we can work towards a better life for our children and not just for the most wealthy and prosperous among us. But it won’t happen with the Harper Conservatives.