Vive Le Canada

Stephen Harper: A Psychopath in Power?
Date: Tuesday, January 13 2009

Cynical Canadians say Stephen Harper is "just another politician".  They may be seriously wrong.  He may be a psychopath, dangerous to Canada and the world.

Begin at the beginning. From research and observation I conclude that Stephen Harper is a psychopath – a dangerous psychopath, dangerous to Canada and to the world.  Some readers will agree; some will dispute the allegation. But the condition of Canada and the condition of the world is so dire as I write that to refuse discussion of the factors that lead me to the conclusion would probably be a major irresponsibility.

Stephen Harper: a Psychopath in Power?

Begin at the beginning. From research and observation I conclude that Stephen Harper is a psychopath – a dangerous psychopath, dangerous to Canada and to the world.  Some readers will agree; some will dispute the allegation. But the condition of Canada and the condition of the world is so dire as I write that to refuse discussion of the factors that lead me to the conclusion would probably be a major irresponsibility.

First, Stephen Harper is – and is not – “just another politician”. The ways in which he is are not flattering. To be, in many ways, like Brian Mulroney (Harper’s confidant and adviser), like George Bush, Tony Blair, Robert Mugabe, and others of their ilk can hardly be positive.  Many of them are marked by a push toward despotism and pathological lying that is so deep it makes them seem ingenuous, almost simple. They all appear to possess an utter lack of conscience. 

Indeed, the report by the January le Monde Diplomatique that Tony Blair (in January 2008) accepted a position with JP Morgan Chase as a part-time consultant for one million pounds a year takes one’s breath away … except that is what politicians do now.  Not many decades ago, Blair’s action would have been universally rejected.

That fact takes us to a special characteristic of psychopaths in our time.  As long ago as 1978, Robert J. Smith wrote that “even a casual observer of capitalist systems can see that the psychopath possesses many of just those traits, behaviours if you like, which augur successful negotiation of the thickets of the marketplace.” [The Psychopath in Society, Academic Press]

Since Smith, researchers have underscored that point, some going to great lengths to draw in, as examples of psychopathology, “leaders” in the capitalist system, the politicians and CEOs (for instance) involved in the Savings and Loan scandals in the U.S. and other similar gigantic breaches of public trust.  Doubtless works are being prepared at this moment to show how the architects of the present economic and stock market Crash fit tightly the description of the psychopath – people who are fundamentally anti-social, fundamentally dishonest, manipulative, without scruple, and without conscience.

The experts are seeming to say that the Far Right Capitalist System we are presently in creates psychopaths and puts them into political life.

But the guardians at the Capitalist Gate are alert and fighting. What might be called “the psychopathic lie” is pushed hard by supporters of the capitalist system.  As I write, on a Sunday morning, Michael Enright of CBC (a soft reactionary) is interviewing two “experts”.  One of them is press and media poster girl for the Far Right in Canada – Diane Francis.  (Enright never interviews a solid, intelligent Canadian on the Left.)  Diane Francis assures the listening audience that you cannot stop the crooks, you cannot rein in dishonesty.  She agrees with the “conventional wisdom”  (of her U.S. counterpart on the program) that you cannot “regulate” corporate criminal activity with effectiveness – so don’t do it.  Just be careful.

Over, and over, and over, spokespeople for capitalism and the Far Right preach inaction – whether from university Economics Departments, the C.D. Howe Institute, press and media, or boards of advisors to Finance Ministers.  Their power is great – because they are parroting – in fact – the position of the politicians in power. That was made stunningly clear in Canada when at the height of the Stock Market Crash, Stephen Harper refused to face the real situation and, instead, suggested investors might make money out of it by jumping into the market. (In fact, he was dramatically wrong – but he was using the remark manipulatively, to change the subject).

He compounded that insensitivity by sending his parrot, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, into the House of Commons in early December 2008 to attack labour, women, and Crown Corporations like the CBC and to propose NOTHING to balance the wrecking going forward because of capitalist and corporation dishonesty and unscrupulousness. (Diane Francis speaks with the confidence of one who knows she’s in the corner with real power.)

How has Canadian society changed so notably in fifty years?  Put very simply, the capitalist system (operating within its recognizable system of values) places in positions of power and influence many, many people who are fundamentally dishonest, unscrupulous, ruthless, possessing superficial charm, manipulativeness, and engaging in unrelieved self-seeking. People who are part of that system – like Stephen Harper, for instance – move back and forth between  “the private sector” and “the public sector” very easily. 

Since the era of social legislation to “regulate” capitalism, to employ “progressive taxation”, and to make the lot of ordinary people decent and fair (from the Second World War into the 1970s), leaders in the capitalist system across the Western World have created relatively faceless, often secret or semi-secret organizations to map out strategies, to push towards, and to take over governments with the goal of disenfranchising ordinary people and creating, in fact, a Nietzschean inferno.

They give assent – though never openly – to the Nietzshean statement that “we count ourselves among the conquerors.  We reflect upon the necessity of new structures, and also of a new slavery, because in order to have real strength and to have the fullest elevation of the new type of man, it is necessary to have a new species of enslavement – isn’t that so?” (Nietzsche, The Gay Science).

Decade after decade the corporate capitalists have used every opportunity to wear away human rights, social freedoms, economic security, and the responsible role of corporations in the maintenance of tranquil communities. Now, researchers speak openly of “the new slavery” in third and fourth world countries – exploited by the wealthy North.  Riots also break out, spearheaded by teen-agers in Italy, Greece , and partly in France (hardly covered in Canadian press and media). 

Familiar scenes and situations. Police are the ruthlessly repressive agents of power (one of the victories of corporate capitalism).  “Law and order” have become the visible and hated instruments of oppression. Thus we are seeing the first signs of resistance – teen agers letting loose against the system in rampages of violence and destruction.  The new slavery wears the face of common phrases now used in France: “travail precaire” and “location de travaillers”.

Those phrases reveal the state of living that the new Nietzsheans want for people in the West: “precarious employment” and “worker rental”, forms of slavery, in fact.  For the phrases describe an increasing condition in the West (pushed hard in Europe) in which working people have no guarantee of reasonably permanent employment, are “rented out” like wheel barrows, paid no benefits, kept in states of poverty, denied education by rising costs, and sacrificed – as “natural” - to the corporate drive for profit.

Unless Canadians are extremely lucky, the repressive movements in the Western World tend, naturally, to shape Canadian “leaders” who endorse the intentions of the new slave owners. Since Pierre Trudeau, Canadian prime ministers have been inadequate often, tending towards alliance with the new slave owners, but they have had a residual sense of public service.  Even “lyin Brian” Mulroney, a catastrophe for the country - and believed by many to be an embarrassing lackey to U.S. power - was not a complete devotee of the new slavery.

To have such a person as Canadian prime minister, the country had to throw up a driven psychopath, single-mindedly determined to destroy democracy in Canada, to dismantle the parliamentary system, and to elevate himself as despot (and totalized lackey of private corporate wishes).

It is my contention that the country has thrown up that psychopath, and his name is Stephen Harper. That leads us to the second aspect of Harper – how he is not “just a politician” but a serious threat to the survival of Canada.

Perhaps the easiest way to write of him as a special case is to use the three categories proposed by one of the best-known researchers into the character of psychopaths, Robert Hare of UBC, and his working partner for a new book, Paul Babiak.  They are, I believe, preparing a book which is tentatively called Cons, Bullies, and Puppetmasters.

In Harper’s case the three modes are often interchangeable and all are used to destroy democracy in Canada and so to elevate him to the position of despot.

We recall that he no sooner took power as prime minister than he ordered that no MP could make a public statement without his permission – even cabinet ministers, all of whom have been stripped of power, except his parrots like Finance Minister Jim Flaherty. 

In addition he is alleged (by Liberal MPs) to have made a list of people critical of his regime and has ordered that all MPs refuse any contact with them.  People on the list who write to MPs are ignored completely.  So much for accountability.

I tested the alleged new Harper system and found it, apparently, in full force.  Satisfying myself that many of the allegations by a single parent mother and victim of Dental Malpractice, Kelly Marie Richard - allegations of gross RCMP activity, of Alberta higher court misbehaviour, of improper response by the Canadian Judicial Council, improper behaviour by the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP (and William Elliott, RCMP Commissioner), practicing lawyers in Alberta, and major insurance companies – and much, much more, I wrote to MPs, to the Minister of Public Safety Stockwell Day, and to the Minister of Justice, Rob Nicholson, sending them an extended report and asking for action to investigate. 

Many others wrote to the Minister of Justice asking him to reply to my communications and to act.  The result was that the members of the Harper cabinet refused any acknowledgement whatever for months and months.  Meanwhile, I was writing and publishing about the situation and reporting the refusal of public servants even to acknowledge serious communications.  The word was getting to more and more people. 

And then at Christmas, a letter came from Rob Nicholson, Minister of Justice – pretending, I believe, to be addressing the materials I had sent months and months before. (And I know he had received additional, important information.) His letter to me was, I insist, a complete sham.  In it – in the face of a Canadian woman of unimpeachable character, a single mother being driven to penury and bankruptcy by forces which absolutely needed to be investigated and which, I allege, had acted against her with gross misconduct – the Minister of Justice for Canada declared he did not have a shred of power to act in any way whatever. Over and over he insisted upon his complete helplessness before innumerable allegations of wrong doing in matters of federal jurisdiction. I believe he is under orders from Stephen Harper to defend all the wrong-doings alleged by Kelly Marie Richard and to get rid of all those asking for action.

I wrote back to Rob Nicholson telling him that I will take care at all opportunities to report that I “judge Rob Nicholson, Minister of Justice, Canada, to be a dishonest hack and a moral coward engaging in criminal breach of trust”.  I believe that the Stephen Harper cord around the necks of Harper MPs is so tight that they are willing to engage in criminal behaviour on behalf of his policies. Whether Rob Nicholson has done so waits upon a full, open, and objective investigation into the whole matter – which under Stephen Harper will never happen.

If that is a shock to readers, remember that Harper produced a large manual for all Harper MPs, teaching them how to destroy democratic rule in the House of Commons.  The manual was a handbook of ways to make sure that the work of Committees of the House of Commons could be wrecked.  Production of that manual  is not, I insist, the action of a healthy mind, but of a psychopath.

Remember, too, that a case is still before Elections Canada alleging that the Harper Party calculatingly took money for constituencies and fraudulently redirected it, thereby violating the Elections Act and the trust of Canadians.  Many Canadians are convinced the allegations are true and I, for one, do not believe that, if true, in such a despotically run party, Stephen Harper could be ignorant of the “transactions”.

Remember, too, Harper’s litigious leanings.  Unlike Canadian prime ministers of the past, Harper turns to the courts at the drop of a hat. He is suing the Liberal Party and Stephane Dion.  He is acting strangely in the case concerning the allegations that Chuck Cadman was offered a bribe (in fact) to vote with the Harper party.

The wonderfully innocent biographer of Chuck Cadman has had his character brutally aspersed, and the court has been hearing from strange and special experts on audiotapes, clearly at the instigation of Stephen Harper.  All that, some believe, is to keep the heat away from Stephen Harper. His adventures into litigation smack of the psychopath.  Isn’t he also suing people in Elections Canada for suggesting the Harper party misused Election funds? He may not be … it’s hard to keep track….

A common way to meet charges of wrong-doing among dirty corporate fighters is to erect palisades of counter charges. 

Indications of a psychopathic state show themselves sometimes in eccentric ways (with most psychopaths). Surprising to many Canadians was the revelation that Stephen Harper hates culture.  He is almost on a parallel with the Nazi Hermann Goering, famous  for the statement: “When I hear the word culture, I reach for my gun”.  Without any reason that can be defended, Harper cut an international arts program to the dismay of a very wide population.  Then to put his foot into his mouth again, he misrepresented and cast aspersions on Arts galas (usually employed to raise money for the arts). He heaped contempt on the people (he suggested) who go to arts galas to waste money and to be ostentatious.

Most prime ministers with artistic tin ears know the arts are an important part of community life and assign someone capable to handle artistic matters.  Not Stephen Harper – who doesn’t assign anything to anybody.  And so, apparently driven by a psychopathic hatred of culture and the arts, he made clear the arts, culture, organizations like the CBC, and any others that take the country seriously – and its artistic expression - will get a knife to the throat whenever Stephen Harper has the power to wield it. 

We recall that he has gone to work to destroy the Canadian Wheat Board – a democratic organization.  He has done so, in effect, I believe to hand Canadian growers to private U.S. corporations, though that is not what he claims.  Doing everything he could, very recently, to prevent a fair, democratic election of Board members, he ordered they be forbidden to campaign reasonably.  The Wheat Board officers, loyal to a system that has provided security for members, have instigated an RCMP investigation, alleging that the voters list for the Wheat Board was, in fact, accessed by Harper agents and used (illegitimately) by Harper MPs to send campaign letters to members to sway their votes. If that is true, it is an activity only worthy of cheap crooks, activity that should be far beneath a prime minister of Canada.

Once again, a driving personal hatred seems to activate Harper in the matter of the Canadian Wheat Board, a great and traditional institution in Canadian history.  That is disturbing.  Harper wants control. As a puppetmaster, he has written himself down in large letters.  No one presents ideas or policy to Harper.  He ties the strings and he works the puppets. And he erases what he doesn’t like of democratic organizations when he has the power to do so.

There is no assurance that the RCMP will find (whatever the evidence) for the Wheat Board in the voters list matter because Stephen Harper is, I firmly believe, trying to sew up the RCMP as a personal army.  Notice that when Guiliano Zaccardelli was forced to leave in disgrace, the top job as RCMP Commissioner was handed by Harper to a man alleged to be a close relation of Brian Mulroney.  And William Elliott – the appointee - has so far, to my mind, played the role of puppet to Stephen Harper, doing almost nothing to repair what has been declared by at least two important recent reports to be a Police Force in disintegration and chaos. (And when I wrote Elliott asking him if he is, in fact, a relation of Brian Multroney, he refused to reply,)

As a con man, Harper almost succeeded with the December economic review presented by his parrot Jim Flaherty.  Remember the “con” sequence?  Harper called upon parliamentarians for greater friendship and cooperation immediately after the election.  He made the Speech From the Throne a hopeful one for parliamentary cooperation.  The press all commented on the “new” Stephen Harper.  Then - the Opposition conned he seemed to believe - he sent Flaherty into the House of Commons to insult, provoke, and intimidate MPs.  And he did so on matters of what might be called “personal hate”.  Why did he attack civil servants?  Why did he attack women?  Why did he want to swoop down – without allowing any kind of reasonable preparation – and wipe out election funds for the political parties, on the way (if he had succeeded) to the creation of a one party state?

That last is a key matter. The bully in Stephen Harper seemed to see the possibility of smashing his opponents and smashing democracy in the process.  I believe he would have been happy to do both things.  If that is true, then no further questions need to be asked about his mental condition. 

When he was campaigning for election, Harper declared one of his top priorities was to set in place structures that would assure accountability in government.  With great posturing and public relations, accountability legislation was passed – which is almost completely useless.  Today, it is harder to get information from the Harper government (accountability) than from any previous government.  The “accountability” campaign was a sham and a fraud. As I have pointed out above, he has done more than any of his predecessors to cut off information from the Canadian public, to work in secret, and to show contempt for Canadian democracy.

The psychopath is described variously as possessing a complete lack of conscience, of possessing insensitivity and contemptuousness, and of wearing a mask.  Harper had his mask on, obviously, when he made a fixed date for the election (and then broke it in a lunge for power), when he made strong and principled arguments to change the Senate (and then dumped them in a bath of power-seeking), and when he went through the huge “accountability” fraud, a mask for his increasingly secret and despotic rule.

The mask was on when he went to the Governor General to seek prorogation of parliament in order to defeat the power of its democratically elected members and to deliver a major blow to Canadian parliamentary democracy.  I have already described Governor General Michaelle Jean as an unlimited disaster in the matter.  As someone who was complicit in and silent about the Canada-assisted rape of Haitian democracy, she dwells in an area of grayness and suspicion.  Not so Stephen Harper.  His role in the prorogation scenario is that of a moral coward, willing to damage Canadian democracy in order to increase his own power.

All those, I believe, are not the kinds of actions we would get from “just another politician”.  I think they are the actions of a deranged person.

The vengeful, unscrupulous psychopath doesn’t change.  He bobs and weaves; he professes amity, he masks, he manipulates.  And he drives toward his goal.  Whatever posturing Harper engages in over the January Speech from the Throne and then the presentation of a budget, Canadians can be sure of some things.

Stephen Harper will seek revenge upon the majority of the MPs in the House of Commons.  He will attempt to use the “fiscal stimulus” to finance “the slave owners” and to harass unions, women, the arts, and Crown Corporations. He will doubtless dump tax relief on corporations that don’t need it. And he will move to cut budgets of public institutions. He will not open up Employment Insurance to provide genuine help. Instead, he will attach conditions that assure “the slaves” are not given freedom of movement and choice.

He will profess to be employing bold, open ways of building infrastructure. And he will do much of it by what are called Public Private Partnerships. Major critics of the PPP have made clear they are “slave owner” inventions to pour public money into the pockets of corporate friends (very often creating huge cost over-runs and unstoppable public debt on behalf of corporations). 

You doubt me?  Consider. Yesterday, fifty million dollars was announced to be spent in Afghanistan to re-build a large dam.  That was the first I ever heard of the project.  Did it go to tender?  Was it advertised, and was competition for the contract invited? Was the matter opened up in public so that Canadians could know all about the expenditure of their money beforehand? Not that I know of.  And the firm that got the contract is, I believe, one of those involved in military contracts and tied tightly to the U.S. armaments production program. Were there agreements behind the scene between Harper and the corporation? Questions.  Questions.

At a time when his regime is under deep suspicion and in threat of being removed, Harper entered an agreement in which (at this moment) uncertainty and suspicion are its major characteristics. True to form.




until one of the major researchers on the subject, Robert Hare of UBC, joining with Paul Babiak is working on a book to be called, I believe, Cons, Bullies, and Puppetmaster


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