"Stephen Harper is trying to control the media again, he's such a Fascist!"
Above is a common type of thing you'd hear on on these forums and elsewhere.
Who said that here in this forum? I can't help notice that you overlooked the most obvious example of misuse of the term: someone who calls a few hecklers in an empty auditorium "leftist fascists."
Wrong. As MiddleClassCentrist aptly pointed out in another thread, the above describes totalitarianism, not Fascism. The above quote is equally applicable to Communist totalitarian dictators such as Stalin or Mao.
"Stephen Harper is a fascist!". Really? Is he hyper-nationalist? Is he big into policies of eugenics/racism, and social-Darwinism?
Eugenics is brought up in the Hitler - Nazi context, but if eugenics is part of the definition of fascism, then pre-WWII United States would be a fascist state, since the U.S. engaged in the widest practice of eugenics on human populations, even outstripping Nazi Germany.
Does he want a corporatist economic system in Canada? Because that, along with one-party totalitarian control (just like Communism), is what fascism is about.
Now, we're getting to the source! Fascism is a totalitarian system that utilizes the existing power structures: business, military and religious leadership of the society. The exact meanings of terms like: fascist, conservative, liberal, socialist, are not set in stone, but are going to vary, depending on the society and the conditions of the time.
Part of the confusion over where fascism stands on the political spectrum is because the creator of Fascism: Mussolini, claimed to be creating something he called "a third way." He did not want his totalitarian movement to be defined on the political spectrum. The difference between the fascism of his time, and the ones we have now in many corporate-dominated third world countries...and where we are headed towards also...is that our modern system of multinational corporations that can freely move their resources from one country to another - rewarding nations that do their bidding, while punishing ones who do not, or refuse - is that our modern fascisms are ones where political leaders are dependent on the corporations, rather than the owners of corporations depending on political or military strongmen for protection.