Harpering on Harper: Canada, 2015
Harper is a master tactician. Knowing that there is a block of rightwing voters who have nowhere else to go, he has been willing to defy them in search of wider support: adopting liberal positions on abortion and gay marriage; veering leftwards to pump public money into the economy to avoid recession in 2008; reaching out to the migrants who now fill the suburbs of traditionally Liberal cities such as Toronto. He studies the stats. He makes the numbers add up. Harper has his roots in the same ideological soil as Thatcher and Reagan: cutting tax and rolling back the state; tough on crime and even tougher on the unions; boosting families and national pride; a solid economy that rewards those who work hard.
Harper has his roots in the same ideological soil as Thatcher and Reagan: cutting tax and rolling back the state
And then there were the tactics that were to attract such notoriety. They reflected the man's character - clever and harsh - moves that turned a democratic election into a mere sequence of manoeuvres. He learned from the master, Arthur Finkelstein, who had played the electoral game for Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. One of Harper's early allies from the 1990s, Gerry Nicholls, captured in his memoirs the special cynicism of Finkelstein's will to manipulate the electorate in his dictum: "We have to convince Canadians to drink pig's piss."
-- Nick Davies