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EDITORIAL: Harper’s divisive, depressing campaign winds down

It is time for Steven Harper to go into the political wilderness, and to let Canada see to its recovery.

An unusually strong turnout in advance polls—and that looked the case over the Thanksgiving weekend—often means that voters are carving up some political turkey.

The Harper government has mounted not led us into the longest and most expensive election campaign in Canadian history, and one that proved disrespectful and divisive.

Whipping up hostility towards a minority group shouldn’t be ‘business as usual’ in Canadian election campaigns, but it became that.

That was in keeping with his government’s track record of breeding fear and suspicion, and introducing the loathsome idea of turning in neighbours for ‘barbaric cultural practices’.

Should we all become vigilantes? Today, we should watch our Muslim neighbours? Tomorrow, which group of potential terrorists? Scientists and environmentalists?

Of course, the effort to foster public hysteria worked nicely to distract attention from a long list of Harper government mistakes, problems, scandals and secrecy.

The man who promised a government of transparency and accountability provided the opposite and kept his word only in warning us we wouldn’t recognize Canada when he was done.

There were a lot of good people elected under the Conservative banner, including several from Nova Scotia like West Nova MP Greg Kerr, but there was never a sense that they were allowed to speak their own minds.

The control from the Prime Minister’s Office was always apparent, a sign of moral decay in Canadian democracy, and something that must be remedied by future governments.

Speaking of democracy, it is also time to put teeth in the expression that ‘every vote counts’. Obviously that hasn’t been true in recent elections, not when a minority of voters supported Harper.

The answer, talked about by opposition parties, is an end to our first past the post system, designed for two-party government.

We need a system that will allow a multitude of voices, which while that offers its own problems, reduces the likelihood of too much power gathered in too few hands.

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