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Monthly Archives: August 2013

STEPHEN HARPER: THE PAPER LION

To the surprise of no one, Harper has announced that he would approach the Governor General to prorogue parliament until October. This is mere formality. The GG will go along with whatever Harper seeks and Harper will do as he has done all too frequently in the past: thumb his nose at the democratic process. To some, the sleeping, the brain dead or Tory supporters, who make up both camps, this will be acceptable. A few folks will be incensed, a few will speak out and the rest will shrug, claiming it’s no big deal; it’s been done before.

That is true. Unfortunately, when Harper invokes it, suspicions are naturally aroused. This is the man who, when faced with tough questions regarding budgets, omnibus bills and scandals, resorts to prorogation of Parliament as a matter of routine in the hopes that, with time, out of sight, sound and opposition fury, the public will forget. It’s worked before.

When he finally got his majority, clearly relying on public apathy, a short attention span as well as playing on fears, ignorance and resorting to outright lies, Harper did not hesitate to prove himself the anti-Democrat he is wielding his majority in the way of bullies wielding a club. He not only sneaked in legislation through massive omnibus bills, he satisfied the thirst of his base by scapegoating the poor and helpless, criminalizing those collecting EI, stigmatizing the mentally ill, ignoring supporters of the long-gun registry, and smearing all critics, seeking neither to accommodate nor to consult. Why should he, he has the majority and, as are most bullies, not shy of publicly revealing his petty and vindictive side; as the elected victor, he was typically ungracious, the lout who would never let his enemies forget that he was now the man. And who are his enemies? Why everyone who disagrees with him and his gang.

It’s the same old same old with Harper and his mob, an anti-democratic regime led by a bullying coward who, when riding high in the polls believes himself invincible and imagines himself master of all he surveys. At such moments, in the euphoria of public- and self-love, Harper is king and certainly, in all the world, no finer man to be found. But that is all will-o’-the-wisp, Tory fancy and utter rot; that is not the real man. The real man is the bully who throws his weight around at such moments and in others, in times of crises (robocalls and Senate scandals), thinks nothing of throwing loyalists under buses while he cuts and runs shutting down Parliament as if it were his own personal playhouse. That pending legislation withers and dies because of this means nothing to him. He can always push the reset button. Meanwhile, away from the House, he avoids answering opposition questions and sets his own storyline and plots with his despicable crew how to woo the public once again with the same old refrain of “jobs and the growth” without even a nod towards ethics, integrity, and Democracy. These are side issues and, for Harper and crew, have nothing to do with running a nation.

NDP leader Thomas Mulcair said of him, “He likes the power but he doesn’t like to govern.” Ain’t that the truth.

But, if Harper is gutless, he is also shameless. When he announced prorogation of Parliament, he was up north enjoying his annual pilgrimage of tokenism. That he made the announcement while away from the capital is typical of him; almost all major announcements are made away from Ottawa where questions are few, limited and all too unsatisfactorily answered (after all, these affairs are meant to be photo ops and the churlish liberal media lickspittle spoilsports appear maliciously intent on marring these good-news love-ins with real issues regarding Senate scandals and prosaic day-to-day governance).

As well as announcing prorogation, Harper reaffirmed his intent to lead the Tories during the next election. Whether he goes or not is immaterial, his replacement will certainly be equally odious having emerged from the same vile swamp that has nurtured Stephen Harper’s corrupted version of Democracy and governance of misrule. Among the contenders are James Moore (past Cultural Minister who appears to dislike culture), Jason Kenney (past Immigration Minister who illegally used government letterheads to fundraise for the Tories), Tony Clement (president of the Treasury, of the $50 million slush fund and missing $3.1 billion) and the least likely to succeed, sciolist Joe Oliver (and just one of the many ideological Cliff Clavens who make up Harper’s cabinet) who apparently knows more about science, climate, oil and pollution than any disagreeable scientist in the universe who dares challenge this regime.

During the brief five week spring session, Harper made five appearances in the House. One appearance a week. By the time the House will have reconvened in October, over five months will have passed and Harper’s appearances in the House will remain at five.

Is this a way to govern? Whose interests are served by prorogation, by refusing to answer questions, by denying the public the right to hold Harper and his miscreant rabble accountable? Certainly not the public’s. It is of no consequence that others have imposed prorogation of Parliament. What is of consequence is that Harper has all too often resorted to the easy out. In doing so, he has made a mockery of the Democratic process. He really believes that the public will forget and forgive his Party’s numerous attempts to subvert Democracy, that it was he who appointed Patrick Brazeau, Mike Duffy, and Pamela Wallin. and that it was he who broke his word on Senate reform and appointed over half of the senators now sitting.

As a leader of a nation, Stephen Harper is an abysmal failure. He and his party have no great vision. In fact, they have no vision at all. Instead, they appear to be infused with hubris for which there is no basis unless the arrogance and smugness of his majority are rated virtues. Power is all that matters but in the hands of a weak, frightened person, that power can be dangerous. Harper is such a person. He is weak; we see it in how he uses and abuses his majority. And he is frightened. We know this, too, by how he regards all opposition with suspicion and fear. Those who oppose him are seen as the enemy. And because he is weak and frightened, Harper and his crew are willing to pander to the worst in us because they actually believe that all of us are like them: venal, petty, self-interested. Many of us are, but not all.

Harper and his gang are quick to point to the motes in the eyes of others, but find intolerable the thought that they may be similarly afflicted. They are good and perfect and I have no doubt they truly believe that. Perhaps that is why they are so afraid of facing questions and challenges. Harper and his gang have no interest in serving the interests of the nation nor of all its people. They would, however, happily sell themselves to special interests and they have. They equate Capitalism with Democracy. In truth, Democracy doesn’t much interest them any more than the plight of the homeless. Money does. Power does.

Prorogation may be a legitimate tool in governance. However, when Harper resorts to it, it is just another abuse of power by a weak, frightened man.

He and his party have no business leading this country. And, right now, they aren’t.

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HARPER ON WALLIN: “I HAVE LOOKED AT THE NUMBERS”

MARJORY LEBRETON AND THE ART OF CONSERVATIVE HYPOCRISY

With the release of the Pamela Wallin audit, Conservative Senator Marjory LeBreton, was immediately out there, not for the first time, front and centre releasing a statement that fairly bellowed with faux indignation, a showy display of outrage and near rapturous sanctimony. Aaron Wherry, (MacLean’s, Aug. 12, 2013) quotes:

“Our government will not tolerate the waste or abuse of the hard-earned tax dollars of Canadians. We expect that any inappropriate expenses will be repaid. Senator Wallin is no longer a member of the Caucus and must be held accountable for her actions.”

“These issues are coming to light because of actions we took to publicly release Senators’ expenses when we gained a majority in the Senate in 2010. We have subsequently taken steps to toughen rules governing Senate expenses.”

“Our Government will continue to advocate for meaningful reform of the Senate – including elections, term limits and tough spending oversight. Canadians understand that our Senate, as it stands today, must either change, or like the old Upper Houses of our provinces, vanish.”

LeBreton, like Stephen Harper and the rest of the Conservative ideologues, is not shy in cutting her loses and throwing another of a long list under the proverbial bus. Nor is she shy in claiming, on behalf of her party, the mantle of righteousness taking credit for the exposure of the rot infecting the Senate. It doesn’t faze her that this is at odds with the facts; for Conservatives history is meaningless unless it can be distorted to suit their story. In that respect, she is an ideal Tory and is fully cognizant of the value of the revisionism to which Conservatives are not loath to indulge. That what she claims is absolute rubbish is of no consequence. Repeat the lie often enough, those docile voting sheep out there will eventually fall in line perhaps with the need of a little sweetener thrown in, another tax cut, or better yet, a promise of greater things (never mind what) coming down the pike. However, while they may have you accurately pegged, before you swallow that drink she’s offering, if you haven’t keeled over from laughing, you might want to have it analysed. You never know what those Conservatives will serve you but it’s seldom the truth and often unpleasant, an amalgam of wishful thinking, half-truths, outright lies and fairy dust, an imagining of the world not as it is, but as they would have you believe.

The Senate revelations came about not by dint of Conservative or Liberal efforts. In fact, Conservative senators released a doctored audit report for public consumption and the PMO denied all knowledge of the cheque Nigel Wright wrote to pay off Mike Duffy’s debt. They were underplaying and underselling the whole debacle. The thing is, four senators, three of them Conservatives, got caught with their hands in the cookie jar! Yet, to the worthy LeBreton, Harper and the Conservative are heroes! As for those alleged fraudsters, well, they should be commended for returning their ill-gotten gains! Yeah, right. They did the honourable thing. You have to weep that politics has sunk so low into the swamp of self-enrichment rather than the welfare of the nation.

So we ask: How do you think the Conservatives would behave if Liberals alone had ripped off taxpayers? We’ve seen their reactions in the past: the outrage would be there, as would the accusations, slanders and distortions. And if it was just Joe Blow? Hell, jail wouldn’t be enough!

As an historian, LeBreton is as credible as any Conservative stooge in the same way Bernie Madoff was as financial handler reporting on how the funds of those he bilked were doing. Unreliable at best. Regardless of how LeBreton and other Conservatives spin it, and oh, how they are spinning it! those alleged fraudsters got caught and want us to believe that, because they got caught and are willing to return what they fraudulently claimed, that they are somehow blameless and honourable. In fact, by returning the money, it is as if they want us to believe no offence, no fraud, was committed! Rats, unless like these folks, who happen to walk on two feet, are more trustworthy. Conservatives have a penchant for revision (remember Penashue, “the greatest MP ever” from Labrador who resigned for illegally accepting corporate funds for his campaign?). LeBreton’s response to the release of Wallin’s audit is just another prime example of it. Of course, to call Conservatives up on any of this is likely to lead to labeling as Liberal media lickspittle by shrill LeBreton with muted “huzzahs” from Tories. Think it, believe it, but not say it too loudly.

PAMELA WALLIN, THE AUDIT AND THE EXCUSES

If Conservatives were slapped by integrity, ethics, truth, facts and shame, they would doubtless be confused if not utterly alarmed fearing they have been rendered impotent by invading foreign bodies.

Recently, there have been whispers that Harper and his gang may do more than move to reform the Senate. The may set out to abolish it, something the NDP has been demanding for years though Harper’s gang, as is typical of them, will claim it was their idea spinning some elaborate story as to why they are the only ones to work in the public interest. No doubt, some of the gullible public will gladly swallow the swill.

Wallin wants to stay in the senate. She wants to work for the public. She will pay back the more than $140K, with her own money, a clear barb meant for Harb and Duffy who did not. Nowhere does she admit guilt or accept responsibility. She made “mistakes”, the “system” is at fault, the Deloitte audit “report is the result of a fundamentally flawed and unfair process” (Joanna Smith, The Star, Aug. 12, 2013). She further states the expense forms are confusing. If so, then Wallin, clearly not unintelligent, would have turned to an accountant. One would think. As to being unfair, who the hell is the victim here if not taxpayers.

She also claims that changes made to the data on her calendar when she learned she was about to be audited were on the advice of David Tkachuk. Naturally Tkachuk, who along with Carolyn Stewart Olsen had whitewashed the Duffy audit for public consumption, denies this. But a question needs asking: Regardless of whose advice, if any, why alter data in your Microsoft Outlook calendar detailing your activities after the fact if you have done no wrong? Is Wallin that stupid or gullible? According to the audit report, Wallin made many expense claims related to purely partisan fundraising activities having nothing to do with Senate business. Wallin is the same senator Stephen Harper defended in The House when he stood up and claimed he saw her travel claims and found them comparable to those of others doing government business. Really? Perhaps it’s time auditors do a complete examination of all the books of senators and MPs. Hands up, those in favour.

No admission of wrongdoing from Wallin. Nor does she talk of resigning. Shame? Not a whit of it. These people believe they are above it; rules don’t apply to them, that’s for the little people; they are major players and are entitled to their entitlements and all the rewards that come their way and they will continue to nickel and dime Canadian taxpayers as is their divine right to do so. Do you like that? If so, how can you?

So, the next time you hear Harper and the rest of his lousy Conservative gang have a go at public servants, attack science and scientists, punish whistleblowers, seek new ways to destroy unionists and smear enemies, just remember what these people are and how they act and how they betrayed your trust. And remember in particular that, of the four senators investigated, three were Harper appointees. Nor should you forget that Harper not only did not reform the Senate as he promised, but he also turned it into rubberstamping machine for government policies with over half of those in the Senate Harper appointees. These are his people, his stooges, his greedy little soldiers. Abolishment, not reform is needed.

A QUESTION FOR YOU

If you don’t mind what has happened, if ethics, truth, integrity, principles, and honesty are of less importance than tax breaks for Big Business, then continue to support Harper and brag about doing so because you are among the shameless and should be known.

And every time Harper attempts to sell you something new and you feel tempted and about to weaken, when you hear Tony Clement attack public servants whom you envy and hate comparing many of them to dead wood, think of Clement’s $50 million slush fund and of the $3.1 billion mislaid while he was president of the Treasury Board. He’s still there. Then think of Bev Oda, her false expense claims, Peter Penashue, Mike Duffy, Patrick Brazeau, Pamela Wallin and Liberal Mac Harb.

Ask yourself: Do we need the Senate? And, while you’re thinking on this, ask yourself a more important question: Do you believe in the Democratic process? If so, ask another question: Do we really need or want more of Harper and his gang? If you think we do, I suggest you question your own ethics. Something’s missing.

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