Those suffering Harper Derangement Syndrome deserve our compassion

Even if it is largely confined to the media elite of Laurentian Canada

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CALGARY, AB Oct 2, 2015/ Troy Media/ – The other day I was picking up groceries at a local organic food store. The young woman at the check-out was sporting a button announcing: Stephen Harper Hates Me.

“How do you know that?” I asked.

“I just know it,” she replied.

“I think he likes you,” I said. “You have a job. You work hard, contribute to the community and the economy. You pay taxes. Why wouldn’t he like you a lot?”

Her jaw dropped. I wished her a wonderful day.

Several years ago my friend Lorne Gunter, then writing in the National Post, identified her attitude. He called it Harper Derangement Syndrome, “an ideological hatred of Prime Minister Stephen Harper that is so acute its sufferers’ ability to reason logically is impaired.”

Gunter would be the first to acknowledge that he is not a psychiatrist. Charles Krauthammer, however, is. Krauthammer graduated with political science degrees from McGill and Oxford. He then entered Harvard Medical School before becoming a resident (and then chief resident) in psychiatry down the road at Massachusetts General Hospital. He discovered Bush Derangement Syndrome (BDS) in 2006 and described it as the manifestation in otherwise normal people of paranoia regarding “the policies, the presidency – nay – the very existence of George W. Bush.”

Harper Derangement Syndrome (HDS) appears to be a northern variant of BDS.

An early example of HDS was the widespread attribution by academics and journalists of a “hidden agenda” to Harper and his party. More recently, Canadians have been exhorted to save the CBC by organizations such as the Toronto-based Friends of Canadian Broadcasting. True, the government has slightly reduced CBC funding, but the Friends’ ads show a Harper look-alike listening to dictators instructing him on censorship and torturing people for questioning government reductions.

CBC and its Friends provide a clue: HDS seems largely confined to the media elite of Laurentian Canada. So far as I can tell, all the regular columnists and many reporters on Toronto’s so-called national newspaper, the Globe and Mail, are afflicted. Even a few otherwise sensible persons on the National Post intermittently show symptoms. My guess is that HDS is orally transmitted.

As for CBC and the local Toronto paper, The Star, things look downright grim.

Tony Burman was an editor-in-chief at CBC and later managing editor of Al Jazeera English. Last month he wrote a story for The Star with a headline claiming Harper was a bigger threat than the Islamic State. Why? Because Harper exaggerated the terrorist threat so as to “distract voters” from (you might have guessed) climate change.

Or there was the fraught performance of an excitable Laurentian intellectual, Stephen Marche, who in the pages of the New York Times blamed Harper for the “closing of the Canadian mind.” Apart from ripping off the title of a brilliant book by Allan Bloom, his piece was notable chiefly for errors that Times’ readers would be unlikely to notice.

Granted, Stephen Harper does not wear his heart on his sleeve. He doesn’t fake it either, as Jean Chretien did. Unlike Brian Mulroney, he never kissed the Blarney Stone. His diction is deliberate and his words well chosen. Having witnessed up close how Mulroney presided over the Tories’ self-destruction, Harper runs a tight ship. He famously told CBC “what you see is what you get.”

Sadly, things will not soon improve for Harper Derangement Syndrome sufferers. Recent reports by the poll aggregator,, show the Conservatives winning the most seats and the only party with a shot at a majority.

Those of us free of HDS need to show some conservative compassion towards our afflicted fellow citizens.

Barry Cooper is a professor of political science at the University of Calgary.

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