When I first saw the headline on this post — "Radical Conservatives Make Sure Government Isn't the Solution" — I wondered briefly if the folks at Firedoglake were actually paying attention to the census uproar here in Canada. It quickly became apparent that wasn't the case, but the overall conclusion the blogger has arrived at seems applicable to recent events here.
What dominates conservative action is not a belief in the inherent inferiority of government but a radical, nihilistic desire to throw sand into the gears to assure it is inferior.
He's writing about things like senate filibusters and the recent brouhaha surrounding former (and soon to be once again?) USDA employee Shirley Sherrod but it certainly rings true for Canadians as well when he writes:
...this is collective action to stop the government from working, and an attempt to drive competent individuals out of civil service.
I've seen alternative explanations for this government's insistence on crippling Statistics Canada but I would suggest that this is the fundamental motivation. This is what Conservatives have been attempting to do since they first wrote the infamous manual on sabotaging Commons committees: "throw sand into the gears."
Harper and his crew take their inspiration from American movement conservatives and Harper himself made that clear long before he became prime minister. If you wonder why they're sticking together despite reports that Clement and Flaherty privately questioned Harper's decision to make the census long form voluntary, it's because they may occasionally disagree on tactics but they do agree on the overall goal. And while it's fair to look forward to the day Harper moves on, don't lull yourself into thinking that will be the end of it. This is a movement that crosses borders. Its members have been organizing and building out their infrastructure for forty years. They own "think tanks" and media outlets, they regularly share ideas on how to further their agenda, and they have money to burn. If you want to defeat them, it'll be a long haul.