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Monthly Archives: October 2015

FROM AN NDP SUPPORTER TO JUSTIN TRUDEAU AND HIS FANS

What can I know? What ought I do? What may I hope? – Immanuel Kant

“There are those that look at things the way they are, and ask why? I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?” – Robert F. Kennedy

Frank A. Pelaschuk

Justin Trudeau and the Liberals must be congratulated for an effective campaign that gave them their majority. I would also like to congratulate those whom I suspect were Liberal fronts advocating strategic voting. Not only did they frighten folks into voting for second choice, they managed to convince folks to get rid of outstanding individuals who served their communities and Canada extremely well, individuals such as Megan Leslie, Peter Stoffer, Jack Harris, Andrew Cash, Peggy Nash, Paul Dewar. Lastly, I’d like to congratulate the voter who listened to the polls, heard the strategic voting advocates and stampeded to the Liberal side. There was no need for the split vote; the Harper gang would likely have been finished anyhow. But what can one do with a nation of sheep?

Even so, I am ecstatic that the Harper gang is gone, though I would have preferred their annihilation. But I am unhappy at the price paid by so many good people from the NDP. I would have been fine with a Liberal minority with the NDP holding the balance of power. That is what I expected. I did not expect the NDP to govern, but I also did not expect so many to abandon them because of fear or because they bought a package with prettier wrapping believing it was new.

Harper and his gang were a destructive, nasty force. We all watched, a few of us horrified as he raised the spectre of terrorism in every corner of our country exploiting the worst in us with his politics of division, his fomenting of racial and religious intolerance. A few of the Harper gang are gone, the incomparably incompetent Leona Aglukkaq, the nasty Chris Alexander, the inarticulate Joe Oliver, but the worst of them, the insecure bully Stephen Harper, the oleaginous Pierre Poilievre, the shrill Michelle Rempel, the inveterate tweeter and conflater Jason Kenney continue to hold office, sewer rats still plaguing the House.

Now I will be accused of sour grapes. I will not deny there may be some of that in what I feel. But I will also attempt to be fair, certainly a lot fairer than the Harper gang ever were.

I do not doubt Justin Trudeau’s good intentions. And I have no reason, yet, to doubt his integrity. But he is the leader of the Liberal party, the party that was booted out of office for its many acts of corruption, most notably the sponsorship scandal. Some will say that was long ago and far away, times have changed and so has the party. Well, has it?

For over 140 years, the Liberal and the Conservative parties have governed the country: Liberals, Conservatives, Conservatives, Liberals, a revolving door that allows for no other but the two parties that have, for many years, given notice of the belief that they, they alone, as if by Divine Right, are entitled to govern this nation. Evidently, the voters feel the same for time and again they, too, have refused admittance to any other option but the Liberals and Conservatives though once, from 2011 to the present, allowing the opposition the faintest taste of power by granting the NDP status as Official Opposition. For voters, it is too much a stretch to conceive that the NDP or the Greens, however well-meaning the folk, however progressive their platforms, are capable of providing good governance even though, provincially, the NDP has had better records as stewards of public funds than either the Liberals or Conservatives. It doesn’t matter; facts don’t interest these voters; they would sooner swallow the poison myths and idiotic lies and surrender to the fears offered by those who pander to their ignorance and intolerance and their fears.

What are particularly troublesome were revelations a week before the election regarding the co-chair of the Liberal national campaign, Dan Gagnier. He wrote to TransCanada Corporation advising the company on how to lobby the new government, presumably Liberal. He was also working for TransCanada. Initially, Trudeau and the Liberals defended him, saying he did not break any rules. Then, 24 hours later, he resigned after he and Trudeau sat down and had a talk. Trudeau was now saying Gagneir “had acted in an inappropriate way”. Then Trudeau and the Liberals began to boast about how quickly they had handled the problem. Really? Well, some will shrug it off and say it’s a small thing. Not to me. You’re either clean or your not. If you fudge on the small, what will you do on the large things? Even before winning, the Liberals were acting like winners, and in doing so, engaging in questionable behaviour. The move Gagnier made was not innocent. Trudeau and the Liberals knew of his role with TransCanada but claimed the work he did for the party was kept apart from his role with TransCanada. We have Trudeau’s word on that. Unsurprising though dismayingly, no one cares, probably relying on that moral equivalency argument: the Conservatives have done worse for ten years. I hope I am wrong, but the Gagnier business, plotting how to lobby a government before it has even been elected reveals a troubling arrogance and a worrisome harbinger of things to come. I cannot shake the sponsorship scandal from my thoughts.

The evidence is clear: for many, strategic voting played a role. But was it necessary? It is likely that enough people were pissed with the Conservatives that they would have lost without folks running scared from the NDP. Nevertheless, the wafflers were evidently persuaded and their own fears took over. In previous posts, I have said that those voting for Stephen Harper and gang had turned off their thinking caps. The same is true of those who moved en mass to the Liberals. If ethics matter, surely they would have paused and reconsidered when the Gagnier story came out. They did not. The herd mentality is alive and well.

Can we hope for better from Trudeau? How, when they are not all that different from the Conservatives in what they support? The Liberals supported the war in Iraq against ISIS and then backed the Conservative extension of the war. The NDP opposed military intervention, let alone extending the war. The Liberals supported the Harper gang’s anti-terrorist bill, C-51, almost universally condemned by citizens, scholars, jurists and activists as anti-democratic, dangerous and a real threat to human rights. As well, Trudeau and the Liberals supported the Harper gang in passing Bill S-7, the Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act with it’s despicable and very explicit tarring of certain segments of society i.e., the Muslim community. We already have laws for both terrorism and violence against women but Harper and Trudeau preferred to appeal to the worst in us. In his victory speech as prime minister designate, he regaled the audience with the story of a Muslim woman wearing a hijab handing her daughter to him. He quoted her saying, “She said she’s voting for us because she wants to make sure that her little girl has the right to make her own choices in life and that her government will protect those rights” If that really happened, she went to the wrong person and the wrong party for solace. It was the NDP and the Green parties that voted against C-51 and S-7.

But, if the Liberals won big because of the strategic voting gambit, it is also true the NDP lost big as well. A large part of that misfortune was of the NDP’s own making. The shift to the centre did not go down well with the old guard. That shift has been going on for years and many have spoke out against it. But it was even harder for some to hear Mulcair’s promise to balance the budget not just the first year in office but for three more years following. It wasn’t the balanced budget, many old guard members opposed, for the NDP has a good record in that area, it was the guarantee of doing so which was hard to swallow. It was a foolish commitment that did not allow for unforeseen events that could make the fulfillment impossible. And it was pandering to soft-core Conservative supporters. Too, the NDP was harmed by Mulcair’s flat-out statement that he would abolish the Senate. Well, most experts agree that it can’t be done. These were missteps that certainly did not help the NDP.

And then there was the issue of the niqab. Mulcair strongly defended the courts ruling regarding the right of Zunera Ishaq to wear a niqab during the citizenship swearing in ceremony. Mulcair and the NDP made the right decision but, with time, it proved to be a costly one with the loss of voter support, especially in Quebec. It is not enough to talk about beliefs and principles; one must be prepared to act upon them and defend them if called upon to do so. Mulcair did exactly that. The niqab was a shamefully divisive issue and we can thank Harper and his gang for that. What is astounding is that Harper and 98 others of this vile gang were re-elected. What does that say of the voters who were not troubled by this fomenting of racial and religious hatred? Outsiders must be shaking their heads wondering: What has happened to Canada? Zunera Ishaq was and is no terrorist and posed nor poses no threat yet the Conservatives waged war on her; she was a Muslim woman merely exercising her rights. Unfortunately, too many were persuaded by the Harper gang. Bigotry and hatred evidently did not matter and so many of that filthy gang, having been re-elected, will sit as vile reminders of the discredit with which they have tainted their roles as MPs. There is nothing honourable in what they did; if I write about any of them, I will never refer to them as that Honourable Member of Parliament; they are not entitled. If they are disgraceful reminders of what was vile in the Harper gang, that they are still polluting the air of Parliament Hill, the shame must also be borne by those who voted for their return. Of course, none of them, the Conservatives and those who voted for them, are capable of shame. That requires decency.

Even more shameful is that Thomas Mulcair and his NDP members were penalized because they stood up and defended the law and the rights of those two women to wear what they wanted. Harper suggested that Zunera Ishaq did not represent Canadian values. Neither does he nor all those who supported his stand. How many politicians put themselves and their party on the line for simply standing up for what they believed was right? Very few. For that, Mulcair deserves our praise.

We are entering another era of Liberal governance. Canadians have opted not only for the same old: they have opted for the same old with a majority. We all saw how Harper abused his huge mandate wielding it as a bludgeon to not only subdue his opponents but also to inform all others that he preferred force over persuasion, fear over co-operation, intimidation over accommodation. I hope Trudeau is more generous than Harper ever was and does not squander his majority by refusing to include opposition members and seeking their input and advice when proposing new legislation. I hope omnibus bills are things of the past. I hope he never invokes closure and that he allows for healthy debates of all his proposed legislation. He has committed to democratic reform. I hope he sticks to that and that we do see some form of proportional representation. If he goes through with that, he will rise highly in my estimation. I do not really expect he will. How many people would get rid of a system that has worked so well to their advantage and replace it for one that may cost them dearly? If Trudeau listens, hears, acts and does away with the pettiness that has been the hallmark of the Harper years, then he will have easily proved himself a better prime minister than Harper, perhaps even one of the best. Trudeau has a solid majority; he is articulate, intelligent and confident. He has the goodwill of the voters behind him and presents a reassuring possibility. I do not know if what he offers will be real change or not. If he wields his majority as a club to ram through legislation, if he resorts to omnibus bills to slip in legislation with hopes of escaping detection, he will have failed and proven himself no better than the gang Canadians have just turfed.

I see in Trudeau a young, charismatic man full of potential saying all the things we like to hear about ourselves. That does not interest me. What does is what he does.

I know what we are not: we are not as good as we say we are. We are not as good as we pretend to be. We are not as tolerant as we imagine. The niqab issue is proof of that. We can be better and we will be if Trudeau puts an end to secrecy; if he governs with openness and integrity; if he honours his promises; if he brings an end to the scapegoating of the poor, of public servants, of scientists, of environmentalists, and of the courts; if he respects all citizens and works for the interests of all rather than the privileged few and, most importantly, if he believes honesty and decency are worthy adjuncts to governance, not to be dismissed or trotted out occasionally but embraced and nurtured.

Canadians have placed their trust in Trudeau. I hope he respects that and respects them. One way of demonstrating that respect is to scrap Bills C-51 and S-7.

It is not enough to spout platitudes. He must follow through with his promises. I will be looking to see if he honours his pledge for democratic reform. It’s easy to make promises. Let’s see if he keeps them.

The voters did their part. It’s up to him to do his.

***

But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing. – Thomas Paine.

***

They that can give up essential liberties to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. – Benjamin Franklin

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HOW TO DESTROY THE HARPER GANG: STOP BUYING THE STRATEGIC VOTING LIE

It is not necessary to hope in order to undertake, nor to succeed in order to persevere. – Charles the Bold

Frank A. Pelaschuk

I will cede no ground to others when it comes to opposing the Stephen Harper. Stephen Harper is no leader to be admired, respected or even acknowledged. He has betrayed Canadians in the vilest of ways, not only by abusing our electoral processes but also by undermining our very democracy. This is a man and a group who find no dirty trick to dirty or too low to not be used. As a result, Harper and his gang work at our basest natures fomenting fear and appealing to racial and religious intolerance. He has disgraced himself. Worse, he has disgraced his office sinking to depths that has brought discredit to our nation thereby winning the opprobrium of outside observers. Years ago, when Harper was in the US speaking to a right-wing group, he said, “You won’t recognize Canada when I’m through with it”. He was right.

But there is another group for whom I also have strong loathing. These are the so-called “strategic” voters. This is the group targeted by several special interest organizations claiming to be non-partisan with only one goal in mind: to get rid of Stephen Harper and gang. Perhaps, but they act more like fronts for Justin Trudeau and the Liberal party.

They are the same Snake Oil salesmen found in the Conservative camp, the ones who evoke images of terrorists pounding at our door and wage war against two niqab wearing Muslim women. Their targets and arguments may differ, but their methods are similar. They will tell you, and they have done so in the past, that a vote for the NDP or the Greens is a wasted vote, that voting for either party will only ensure another term in office for the Harper thugs. They will also tell you that the only party able to defeat the Conservative party is the Liberal party. Well, we’ve heard this in the past and as in the past this tactic appears to be working. It’s the appeal of the “status quo” to the dumb and witless rather than a support for real change. To be shed of Stephen Harper is a goal I easily support, but not the method offered. Strategic voting is dishonest and anti-democratic; it plays on fear and asks you to set aside your beliefs and hopes and to support a choice contrary to your own. In other words, they are asking you to vote for someone you believe may be second best at best. They obviously don’t think much of you or your opinion. But then, if you buy into their arguments, you don’t either.

In the 2011 elections, there were 308 seats. Conservatives won 159 seats, the NDP 95 and the Liberals 36. That the Conservatives could win the majority of seats with just 39% of the vote should alarm us all. Yet it apparently doesn’t. It does bother Elizabeth May and the Greens who support Proportional Representation. It also bothers Thomas Mulcair and NDP who also say they will bring in PR. Even Trudeau made noise about offering some kind of electoral reform. We know where the Conservatives stand on this. While the Liberals talk, chances are they will do nothing to change from first-past-the-post. Why would anyone feel emboldened to make changes to a system that works to his advantage? It may be the decent thing to do, the just thing to do, but who wins by being decent or just? The voters? Who cares about them once the election is over? One can always make the same promise the next time we go to the polls.

So why would anyone support something he or she does not really believe in? Not only do we risk getting a government we do not necessarily believe in, we may elect candidates we really believe incompetent. Going second best is surrender not victory even if it does remove Harper and his gang. Look at the numbers. While it’s true in theory the parties all start at zero seats during an election, realistically, they do not. There is something about incumbency. If nothing has happened to change your opinion of the opposition parties, what is the motivation for voting against your first choice for second best, from NDP to Liberal? In fact, with more candidates with experience as MPs, it makes more sense to support the NDP than to vote for Liberals. Assuming the vote for incumbents held, it would be much easier for the NDP to gain the extra seats to make the majority of 170 from 95 seats than it would be for the Liberals from 36 seats. Of course, for all parties there will be gains and losses but, if voters kept to their votes and preferences and those wafflers who claim to want to cast their ballots for the NDP actually did so, there would be no reason for Canadians to be restricted to another round of Liberals and Conservatives as we have been since the first vote over 140 years ago.

Voting Liberal is not a vote for change. It’s a vote for the same old same old. The party’s past history of corruption, cronyism and incompetency has proven them to be no more trustworthy than the Conservative party they replaced the same corrupt, dirty, petty, mean-minded, punitive, vicious, and anti-democratic party that, in turn, replaced them under the Harper banner. Different leaders, same parties.

If people succumb to the fear factor outlined by those parties advocating strategic voting, they are succumbing to the same kind of fear as those who will cast their votes for the Harper gang. In doing so, the frightened and ignorant will have extended the reign that excludes the possibility of true democracy and inclusion. They will have validated the continuance of the revolving door that only allows admittance to two parties. Is that what we want? Voting NDP or Green is not a wasted vote. It’s liberation, the smashing of chains that says, at last, you can and will make a difference. You just have to believe and then act.

Strategic voting? It’s for the dumb, witless and frightened, a strategy offered by con men and connivers who believe in nothing but power and the gullibility of voters.

UPDATE: October 15, 2015

Shortly after I published this post came news of the resignation of the Liberal national campaign co-chair, Dan Gagnier, following reports of his efforts via email to assist those involved in the Energy East pipeline project by offering detailed instructions of how and when to lobby a minority government led by Trudeau. Does anyone recall the sponsorship scandal? That’s the scandal that got rid of the Liberals and gave us Harper. Yeah, vote strategically, vote Liberal and when you’ve had enough vote Conservative and keep repeating this until the end of time. Why go for something new when you know what you’ve got and what you’ll get. Don’t vote for real change. And don’t you dare take a chance with the NDP because you never know what you’ll get. Why risk the possibility of something foreign and new, the possibility that the NDP might actually provide good, open, honest government? Go with what you have and with what you know, cronyism, corruption, padded expense bills, corporate lobbying, members of parliament in corporate pockets. Vote Liberal, vote Conservative, and repeat it forever and hope for different outcomes each time. Prove your insanity. Why bother with real change? Everyone wins except the ordinary citizen of Canada. Happy days are here again!

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But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing. – Thomas Paine.

***

They that can give up essential liberties to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. Benjamin Franklin

STEPHEN HARPER AND GANG: WINNING THE VOTE WITH RACIAL AND RELIGIOUS INTOLERANCE

Thwarted lives have the most character-conditioned hate… The easiest idea to sell anyone is that he is better than someone else. The appeal of the Ku Klux Klan and racist agitators rests on this type of salesmanship. – Gordon W. Allport

Frank A. Pelaschuk

On October 19, Canadians will go to the polls. Chances are it will be a Conservative or Liberal minority. Voters will go back to repeating the same stupid mistake they have made since the first Canadian vote took place.

I have heard some people say, “I would vote for the NDP but I’m afraid of splitting the vote and getting Harper for another term”. If every person who offered the same excuse actually voted for the party they say they prefer, the NDP would have gotten in long ago.

These people are disingenuous at best. The truth is they are afraid, too cowardly to take risks even when there are none though they have had plenty of experience with bad, even corrupt governance for the same reason. They prefer the same old same old because they bought the Conservative/Liberal lies and can’t seem to get past their own blind ignorance. We all know the Liberal record and we have had close to ten years of Harper’s scapegoating and law breaking as he and his party benefited by subverting the electoral process.

What is truly astounding is that those who vote for Conservatives have no shame. They clearly do not care about corruption, lack of ethics, honesty, open government, and truth. What is even more alarming, more reprehensible is that these people support Harper’s fomenting of racial and religious intolerance under the guise of protecting women from the “subjugation” of men within a culture. That is, Muslim men and a Muslim culture. Those who support Harper on the niqab issue say that this has nothing to do with racism or religious intolerance. I beg to differ. The courts have ruled on this matter and yet Harper and gang and those supporting them seem to believe that the war against two women should continue. This is bullying. This is politicking at its vilest, meanest and smallest this targeting of minorities to win voters. That was the same appeal that allowed for Hitler and Mussolini. It was racism and religious bigotry then and it’s racism and religious intolerance today.

The Harper gang and those who support them solely on the basis of this one issue represent the worst that Canada has to offer. They support racism and bigotry.

For this I blame Stephen Harper, Jason Kenney, Chris Alexander and all the other hypocrites in the party who have revealed themselves for the straw men and women they truly are. Harper now promises to ban the niqab in public service. That’s a nonissue; no one or almost no one wears the niqab in government offices. He promises to set up a snitch line for those engaging in Barbaric Cultural Practices (i.e., non-Christians, Muslims in other words). He and his filthy group are suggesting such things are common in Canada. It’s not. It doesn’t exist in Canada. On CBC’s Power and Politics, pundit Amanda Alvaro said it best, what the Harper gang is doing is “barbaric political practices”. She is absolutely right in this. Where are the snitch lines for battered women, the murdered and missing women, the child molesters. Oh, right, 911.

Harper claims ours is a “welcoming”, “open” society. Who can believe it when liars, cowards and bigots fan the flames of hatred and so many appear to welcome it?

If Harper can do it to one group, why do you believe you may not be next? Just reflect on these words by Martin Niemöller:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out –

Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out –

Because I was not a Trade Unionists.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out –

Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak for me.

Neither silence nor complicity guarantees safety. It’s okay to be afraid, but not okay to stand by and allow Harper to do what he has done. You could be next.

Then what?

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But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing. – Thomas Paine.

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They that can give up essential liberties to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. Benjamin Franklin

THE DEMAGOGUE AND THE VOTER AS IGNORAMUS: HARPER’S DIRTY POLITICAL WAR OF DIVISION AND FEAR

There is perhaps nothing so bad and so dangerous in life as fear. –Jawaharlal Nehru

The only good is knowledge and the only evil is ignorance. – Socrates

Frank A. Pelaschuk

The narrative regarding the NDP has largely been that it is a tax-and-spend party, a party greedily picking our wallets and reckless with our dollars. It is not true, of course, an invention promulgated largely by opposition Conservative and Liberal parties and their friends in the corporate and media worlds, a lie as infantile and dishonest as the Conservative myth of themselves as the best fiscal managers of the public purse since the dawn of man. To hear them tell it, it’s bred in the bone, as inherently impossible for Conservatives to mess up, as it is a divine certainty the NDP will drive the economy to the ground transforming Canada, as some have said, ” into another Greece”. It’s spurious fearmongering, of course, the socialist as bogeyman, as predictable as Harper’s daily alarmist rhetoric of terrorist hordes targeting Canada and pounding at our doors.

When things go right, it is always because of the smart things Harper and gang do or not do: “wise planning”; “prudent spending”; “tax cuts encourage investment”; “trimming public service fat”; “there’s only one taxpayer” whatever the hell that last means. Not surprisingly, when things do go awry, and they do and have, Harper MPs scurry into dank nooks in the way of cockroaches eyes rolling and panic-stricken mumbling old, tired refrains: “a mess inherited from previous Liberal mismanagement “; “market forces beyond our control”; “unforeseen world events”; “a minor self-correction”; “yadayadayada” leaving it for the big boys to enlarge on the spin, one of whom is Michelle Rempel, a bobblehead extraordinaire, whose frequent appearances on CBC’s Power and Politics (just try and stop her), always leaves one drained, so fraught with malice, shrillness, boorishness, and imperiousness as she makes up facts and offers diversions with the conviction of a conman shouting down anyone doubting his claims.

THE WIZARD AS BIGOT

For them, everything, everything, it seems, boils down to dollars and cents and their belief that the most important weapon one need possess is power: the greater the power, the greater the ability to exploit fear, inflict pain and to control. Harper has wielded this weapon, the power of his majority, effectively and relentlessly against public servants, critics, opposition members, and even the public. The manner of the pain has been extreme and vicious for some segments of society and is indicative of what is really bred to the Harper Conservative bone. It is more than their inflated imaginings of their fiscal adroitness and their smug arrogance that makes them so unpalatable; there is their zealotry, their willingness to distort, their ease with corruption, their eager mean-spiritedness, their pitiful delusions, their embrace of dishonesty, their penchant for scapegoating the weak and poor and their fomenting of religious and racial intolerance. There is almost nothing they will not do to forward their agenda and no weapon is too foul to not be used. Only the most contemptible would be drawn to such as these and many are.

And they, of course, are members of the Conservative base, unshakable, unreachable and unteachable. They unquestioningly swallow the swill and embrace the myths casting their votes accordingly and as thoughtlessly as the Conservative majority spin facts, engage in dirty tricks (the dirtier, the better), and slip dubious legislations into massive omnibus bills without debate with hopes of escaping detection. None of this troubles either side of the Conservative coin; both feed off the poisons each exude, the Conservative base a black hole swallowing everything except knowledge, wisdom or enlightenment and the Harper gang feeding it everything but knowledge, wisdom or enlightenment fanning the flames of ignorance, fear, and intolerance, waging war against the Muslim community and opposition parties with straw man arguments that have nothing to do with facts or reality. The base doesn’t need the facts or reality, they readily and easily accept the Conservative justifications of C-51, which grants our intelligence agencies greater powers to spy on Canadians with little oversight by suggesting the laws in place are not enough. It’s not true of course; no truer than the Conservative suggestion that opposing the bill makes one somehow unpatriotic, probably sympathetic to the terrorist cause. The Conservative base never questions. So the Harper gang ratchets the level of hysteria with evocations of ISIL inflating Canada’s contributions in Iraq and their own as triumphal leaders towering above all others among our allies passing legislation that jurists, scholars and leaders have condemned as heavy-handed, unnecessary, abusive, and an attack on fundamental civil liberties. No matter, the Conservatives are blind and deaf to appeals to reason, to fair play and to justice. They know the audience to whom they appeal, their base base. From them there is no blowback when there is speculation Harper and gang will ban the niqab in public service. Indeed, there is only resounding approval from this segment of the easily frightened, stupid and self-interested when Harper wages war against Zunera Ishaq, one of two Muslim women, who have obeyed all steps to obtain Canadian citizenship but have resisted the demand they be unveiled during the swearing in ceremony which the courts have said is their right. Why is the gang so afraid of this one woman? And why is Harper so eager to expend so much energy, time, and money against her? The Conservatives claim that the niqab symbolizes the subjugation of women. That’s a pretext, an excuse. How can it be when the “subjugated” wear the symbol voluntarily? I can understand him wanting to win an election, but I cannot his methods, one of which is the promise to set up a snitch line to report those who engage in “barbaric cultural practices”, i.e. Muslims again. That is a red herring. Amanda Alvaro of Narrative P.R., in her appearance on CBC’s Power and Politics called the move a “barbaric political practice”. She’s absolutely right. This is simply targeting a segment of society. We already have laws against such things. And, if you must have a Tip Line, why not one for the murdered and missing women or for battered women? This is nothing but posturing with one goal, to capture the Quebec vote in particular by capitalizing on the racial and religious intolerance of the ignorant and fearful. Where will it end? How far is Harper willing to go? Recently, alarms were set off when Bill C-24 was used to strip a terrorist with dual citizenship of his Canadian citizenship. What is going on in Canada with this gang of thugs? This is abusive and extreme, discriminatory and dangerous. We have a government that is behaving in the fashion of nation states we condemn. It not only foists on other nations a person they may not want because of the risks involved, it also has the potential to deny an accused basic civil rights. Will he have access to the evidence against him? Will he have the opportunity to fight back in the courts? How much will we tolerate when it comes to breaches of civil rights for a little security? When Harper speculates of taking away the citizenship of those born here accused of “serious” crimes or of behaviour that his government finds intolerable, there is, again, even more serious reasons for alarm. Making one stateless is against all codes of decency and international law. It is cruel. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “everyone has a right to a nationality” and “no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality”. That is exactly what Harper is proposing in in one instance of a Canadian born accused of being a terrorist. Now some may say these are bad people, they’ve lost their rights when they did what they did. But who is it that decides what is serious? How can we be assured due process has taken place? We can’t. Should a prime minister make up laws just to rid himself of those he does not like? What will be the cutoff point? If murder, people smuggling, and pedophilia merit the loss of one’s nationality as Harper suggests, what will be added to the list? Under C-51, will environmentalists blocking the shipment of oil be labelled economic terrorists? Will this be sufficient ground to strip a Canadian of his citizenship? I say Harper is scum. Could that, one day, earn me the loss of my birthright? No one knows how far the Conservatives will go but we have a good idea having been witness to their many abuses of the Parliamentary system including relentless efforts to slip laws into omnibus bills in hopes of escaping detection. There are some who will say that can’t happen here. They are wrong and there is history to prove that. Under the pretext of security in the first and second wars, Japanese, Italians, Ukrainians, Germans, unionists and pacifists, and others, Canadian born as well as foreign born, have been interned as security risks for no other reason than for being members of certain nationalities and for their activities as unionists and pacifists. When asked about public servants not being allowed to wear niqabs, Pierre Poilievre of the so-called Fair Elections Act would not answer. No surprise from that source. But the silence pretty well informs: it’s not good news.

This is politicking at its vilest; it is corrupt, a sinking into a sewer of dishonesty, deceit, posturing, fear, bigotry and religious intolerance. As an election ploy, it may just work. Harper does know his people.

If it does work, Canadians will be the ultimate losers for Conservatives will rightly view it as a validation of their methods. When we succumb to fear, surrendering our freedoms to bullying, to lies, and to the despicable messages of hate, we are all diminished in some way and all left even less secure. Who will be the next target?

It could be you.

THE WIZARD OF SHAM

But we are further diminished when we also allow only economic policy to govern our acts; we lose too much when everything has a price and a cost.

Can we justly claim moral superiority when we keep electing panderers, liars, and whores who seek to buy our votes and to terrify us with sabre rattling excesses while at the same time signing deals with murderers and dictators with appalling records for human rights violations? Well, for Harper, it is easy. On September 25, 2015, when questioned about his billion-dollar arms trade deal with Saudi Arabia, one of the globe’s most egregious violators of human rights, he argued other nations were also bidding for the contract and that, while human rights were important, if would make no sense to lose Canadian jobs over this issue. Why not? What right has Canada to point fingers when we not only stand with butchers, but enable them by our silence and with our deals? To observers following Harper’s campaign of division and derision, it is clear that his moral compass is extremely equivocal if not non-existent. Human rights are okay but they don’t buy votes.

Harper’s grandstanding, his attempts to portray himself in the forefront in the war against ISIL and as the only Canadian leader capable of keeping Canada safe is laughable not only because of his ridiculously bombastic triumphalism, all sound, no bite, but also because too many of us hold the image of him cowering in broom closet when Cpl. Nathan Cirillo was murdered last October. It’s not Harper’s fault; but still, to watch on the hustings flanked by adoring supporters swaggering across the stage and trying to look tough, I am unconvinced. I see a wannabe tough guy, an arrogant bully who picks on the weak or those easy targets about which he keeps warning us: Muslims and those niqab wearing women.

But Harper is no world leader to be admired. It is largely because of him Canada’s standing on the global stage has been tarnished.

In 2010, Canada, at that time more concerned with domestic policy, lost it’s bid to win a seat on the UN Security Council, losing the support of the middle east for it’s unquestioning support of Israel, for it’s casual attitude towards Southeast Asia, for cutting aid to African nations on ideological grounds and for failure to work towards solutions on carbon emissions. Making it worse, Harper has adopted a puzzling attitude of hostility towards the UN, not only bashing the world body, but often voting against it, even pulling out of a UN anti-drought convention leading to speculation that it had more to do with its own stand regarding Climate Change which was, at that time, it doesn’t exist, it was a myth, something like their fiscal acumen. Too, as the Ottawa Citizen reported, the European Union and some Canadian allies in September 2013 asked Canada to sign the Arms Trade Treaty meant to stem the flow of illegal weapons for which it had earlier voted along with 153 other countries. “More than two years later, Canada remains one of the few countries – and the only NATO member –not to have signed the Arms Trade Treaty” (Ottawa Citizen, Lee Berthiaume, October 2, 2015)!

As well, Canada, with the US and Ukraine, voted against a UN resolution brought forward by Russia to fight against “the glorification of Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance” (Huffington Post, Nov. 26, 2014) offering as excuse that it was “counterproductive”. Canada had also boycotted the World Conference Against Racism. None of this should surprise anyone especially in light of the type of campaign the Conservatives are running. This is the same gang that, while still offering aid to certain African nations, refuses to allow the aid to be parceled out to charities offering family planning resources. For Conservatives, consigning victims of rape, including child brides, to a life of impoverishment, misery, and possible death, is preferable to offering safe abortions. Ask a Conservative; I’ll bet most would claim to hold Christian values. If so, charity and generosity must not be among them. Under Harper, Canadian-owned mines accused of human rights violations in Latin America numbering in the hundreds, have been protected by this government actively undermining efforts to hold them to account. Is this what the Conservative base supports? Seems so. If that’s not enough, how about this: Canada, an exporter of asbestos, has opposed its inclusion among products to be banned on a UN treaty called the Rotterdam Convention. We can’t use it here because of its link to cancer so we ship it to Asia. Is that enough to persuade Conservatives pinheads to reconsider for whom they vote? Not likely. If victims of rape will not move them, nothing will.

For one who imagines himself worthy of a place on the world stage (we can all recall his finger-wagging hectoring of world leaders for their poor economic performances), this is contemptible, nasty stuff. How can one uphold and support those mining companies responsible for criminal acts that have, in some instances, even resulted in allegations of murder? How can he justify voting against condemning racism or the glorification of Nazism? Why is he reluctant to sign a treating combating the shipment and trade of illegal guns? Well, if you’re Harper, it’s easy. He has turned Canada into a less inviting place rejecting victims of persecution and murder, not only from the severely troubled war zones of the globe but also from so-called “safe” countries for no other reason than we do business with them. As a result, the Roma, who are victims of persecution in Hungary, are not welcomed. And while Canadians all claim to be moved by the plight of those millions fleeing conflict in Syria, Harper’s own heart is as steel, not only reluctant to accept Syrians fleeing for their lives, but only those we “prioritise” as belonging to religious minorities, i.e., Christians. Sunni Muslims need not apply. There’s that terrorism issue, you see, Muslims can’t be trusted. Especially those wearing niqabs.

So who is the true threat here? Is it really Zunera Ishaq or is it the Harper government, which targets a young Syrian because she is a Muslim? Why has she become the symbol of all the things Harper and gang would have us fear? Why have they expended so much time, energy and money on this one individual? Racism is foul but it is particularly foul when our leaders not only engage in it but also appear to encourage it from those who elect them.

This is the government that has recklessly attempted to pass laws that have failed and been overturned by our courts. Instead of doing the right, the decent thing, instead of seeking to create laws that will be passed, laws that actually do protect every segment of society, the Harper gang keeps making up new bad laws. When the courts overturn the laws, he works on the public to turn opinion against them accusing the courts and justices of being “activists”. Harper has persistently used and abused the law, but he has never respected it.

Doubt it?

Think of this. When Harper made his move to get rid of the Long Gun registry, Quebec wanted the data kept until they could appeal the destruction of the records. It didn’t happen. Harper and gang ignored the court and had the RCMP destroy the data. The information commissioner ordered an investigation. So what did Harper do? He changed the law to retroactively protect the government and RCMP from prosecution for criminal acts. “The government also back-dated the changes to when the original bill to kill the gun registry was tabled in Parliament, months before it actually passed into law, wiping out ‘any request, complaint, investigation, application, judicial review appeal or other proceeding’ related to the final six months of the registry’s legal existence” (Bruce Cheadle, the Canadian Press, Ottawa Citizen, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015). Just think of that. Harper not only changed the law, he rolled back time, altered history, and rejigged events in the same way he hopes to rig future elections. The records were not only destroyed, they never even existed and no crime was committed. This is Harper’s universe. Vote for him and we’ll have more of that. Remember, his was the first government in Canadian history to be found guilty of contempt of Parliament. He not only acted as if nothing had happened, so did the 39% who voted and re-elected him finally giving him the majority he so wanted.

We’re better than this. So we tell ourselves boasting about our moral superiority over America and other parts of the world. Some may wish it were so or even believe it to be true. It isn’t. These are anti-democratic monsters and yet we re-elect them again and again. What will it take to get rid of them? They hold themselves above the law, above Parliament and above those who vote for them. Will there be no end to their miserable world, their intolerance, secrecy, deceit, and hypocrisy.

THE WIZARD OF HYPOCRISY

But, even if human rights were not part of the equation, we must then ask how good are the deals for Canada and Canadians. Why was the arms deal with Saudi Arabia contingent on secrecy? In fact, why does Harper shroud so much of what he does in secrecy? That’s what roaches and muggers do, lurk in corners, waiting.

We have had the secretive Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) that certainly appears less a result of Harper and gang working in the interests of Canada than of Harper’s eagerness to ink a deal with one of the largest markets in the world, a market that does not consider human rights a priority. Not only was the deal made in secret, it locks Canada in for 31 years requiring a one year notification period before either side can pull out. It also allows China extraordinary powers to trump Canadian laws if Chinese companies can prove they were forced to act under rules different from local businesses or investors. Is that really good for Canada? Isn’t that a surrender of sovereignty?

During the September 17 Globe and Mail debate, Harper suggested that the Conservatives were close to sealing the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) hinting that “the auto sector has concerns, as do others… I’m not suggesting they will necessarily like everything that is in”. That sends a pretty clear signal Harper may be willing to sacrifice some sectors to ink what will be a very, very lucrative deal both politically and financially with the election just around the corner. Such a deal would doubtless bolster Harper’s image as a trade negotiator among those who stand to benefit and may be enough to persuade the undecided to cast their votes for him. It may even help him win an election. But some leaders, Jerry Dias, president of Unifor, for example, worry 26,000 jobs from the auto-parts industry will be lost. If one accepts his numbers and add them to those already lost in the auto sector, this will boost the number to a total of 64,000 jobs from one sector. As well, rumours have been that dairy farmers will lose though the Conservatives deny it. If the rumours are true, Harper is willing to ink a deal that will allow American dairy products into Canada without any reciprocity for Canadian dairy producers. That would be the price of trade Harper might say. With a deal this big, there is a real likelihood of health and safety standards being compromised, of well-paying jobs going south, of full-time jobs becoming part-time, of more lower wage jobs, and of more workers joining the ranks of the impoverished. It’s just business, I guess.

Yet, if decency and integrity play little to no role in the Harper regime, shame plays even less. Using taxpayer dollars, Harper and gang have spent $750 million on ads promoting themselves. Where is the same public outrage that toppled Bev Oda for a $16 glass orange juice? Or where is the outrage when military equipment purchases are almost always delayed, well over budget, and, when delivered, as with our Cyclone helicopters, unable to perform the jobs for which they were designed because underpowered or, as with the F-35 fighter jets, the most expensive planes ever built, are not suited for air combat and even less suited for the Canadian Arctic and for the Maritimes because of its single engine? To continue with the purchase of F-35s will needlessly cost lives. Trudeau says he will scrap the F-35s for other jets and Harper says that it can’t be done without incurring penalties. Not true, says the US government.

Harper says he is foursquare behind our Military forces. We have paid for those dramatic, stirring, triumphal, self-congratulatory ads saying that is so, an armed soldier running across a barren, snow-covered field, a thundering helicopter framed against an red evening sky, all the gung-ho stuff you expect to see from American military ads. But it’s mostly nonsense and sham. The reality is Canada operates like a third world nation the way it treats our armed forces with most of its fleet in dry dock, others stripped for parts, with planes due for retirement and parts for helicopters purchased on eBay. Yeah, right, this is the leader that really stands behind his troops. Far behind. We saw how much he cares by the way he treated out veterans. Can the gang really be trusted with our money when they purchase military equipment at twice the cost paid by other nations? Well, Harper says so; just ask him. But you don’t have to ask him. Every day we are treated to ads of their financial wizardry.

And, as if to underscore the point, Revenue Minister Kerry-Lynne Findlay and the Canadian Revenue Agency have sought to save thousands, yes, thousands, by targeting charities perceived as left-wing advocates while ignoring the billions in off-shore accounts set up by wealthy tax cheats with the aid of skilled accounting firms. With Harper and gang at the helm, it’s best to cheat big if you’re going to cheat.

As with the way of all bullies, the Harper gang finds it easier to go after the small and weak. Who knows, among those wealthy offshore cheats might be a Conservative supporter or two. What are friends for, right?

So the next time you hear Harper and gang warn you of the dangers of voting for the NDP or Liberals, remind them of their own follies. Do not swallow the swill. We do have choices and they do not just include the Conservatives and the Liberals. If it is the economy that will decide your vote, as Harper and gang believe, then, even in this, the NDP has a better record than either the Conservatives and the Liberals. Check for yourself (www.progressive-economics.ca/2011/04/29/fiscal-record-of-canadian-political-parties/).

THE WIZARD OF INDIFFERENCE

Recently, British Columbian Conservative MP James Moore, while not running for office this time, was campaigning on behalf of the Conservative party in Port Coquitlam. On the 35th anniversary of the Terry Fox Run, and with Lauren Harper at his side, Moore announced that, if re-elected, the Harper government would match any private donation up to a total of $35 million. Now that might strike one as a good, decent, even Canadian thing to do in memory of one of Canada’s heroes. It is and it isn’t. Moore said the Fox family approved of this hijacking of the Terry Fox campaign by the Stephen Harper gang campaign. That wasn’t quite true. Not only was it distasteful in that it politicized what should have been a non-partisan charity, it was distasteful because the announcement was little more than emotional blackmail, tugging at Canadian heartstrings and appealing to our generosity while wielding a threat: vote for Conservatives or the Terry Fox Foundation suffers. That is brutish behaviour something akin to “Your money or your life”. From this gang, anything goes. It’s disturbing. It’s indecent. It’s the Conservative way.

And we can see that in the way they handle certain scandals that have plagued their regime. I will not comment further on the Senate scandal, Duffy, Wallin and Brazeau. Canadians are familiar with the story. But I would like to remind them again of other matters that clearly demonstrate Harper’s Conservatives steadfast tolerance for questionable behaviour including lapses of judgment, ethics and morality.

We are all familiar of how Bev Oda fell from grace because she charged on the public purse a $16 glass of orange juice. The outrage was less that she twice made false claims and was forced to repay them or that she forged a government document that resulted in denying a charity public funds simply because that charity, KAIROS, disagreed with Harper’s stand regarding Palestine. Harper continued to support her until the outrage over the $16 drink became too much. Too bad it took so little to enrage the public. The message for politicians: if you want to get away with stealing from the public purse best go big, voters don’t sweat the small stuff.

The thing is, Harper appears to have a very high tolerance for such transgressions as we have seen with Shelly Glover fighting Elections Canada over expense claims and later caught at a fundraising event attended by those who would gain from the decisions of her ministry. The same for Leona Aglukkaq. Glover’s retiring. Aglukkaq – well it seems impossible to get rid of that level of breathtaking incompetence.

Christian Paridis is also retiring. He too was tolerated for such things as violating the Conflict of Interest Act for giving preferential treatment to former Conservative MP Rahim Jaffer and his company. Paradis was also in trouble for attending a hunting trip with a lobbyist seeking public funding for an arena. He denied any lobbying took place. Yeah, he did deny that and we are to believe him. As well, Paradis was investigated for his role into the transfer of federal offices from another city to his own riding. You get the picture. No backlash from Harper. He doesn’t mind lapses of ethics, not if you’re the right person. Yet this man Paradis with apparent very loose ethics is allowed to retire unscathed doubtless to step into some corporate board where his knowledge of the government process and ethical scruples will be much appreciated. One wants to weep.

And then we have making a comeback the best MP Labrador has ever had, according to Harper that great judge of character. The ex-MP, the best MP Labrador ever had, was forced to resign for accepting illegal corporate donations for his 2011 campaign. If you’re a Conservative, ethical lapses and bad behaviour are easily forgiven and of apparent little import if you’re the one they want. Well, almost all. Even for Harper, candidate Jerry Bance, small businessman caught on camera by CBC’s Marketplace urinating in a client’s cup while the client was in the next room was too much. Here was a man running for office yet too lazy to walk to a washroom down a corridor. So Bance was out. As was John Crosby’s son, Ches Crosby, who was not allowed to run in the Newfoundland and Labrador riding of Avalon because he took part in a skit in which Harper was made light hearted target. No sense of humour, those Tories.

Well, perhaps they do have some. We mustn’t forget Jason Kenney, Tweedledee and Tweedledum rolled into one. This is the guy who can’t help himself it seems. He has made so many blunders he should be made a backbencher for eternity. He wasn’t above using the government letterhead to fundraise for his party. In another fundraising scam, he attempted to link Justin Trudeau to terrorism because of his visit to a Montreal mosque declared by the US military to be a recruiting centre for Al-Qaeda. Kenney of course held back that Trudeau’s visit took place before the news was known and made public. This was no accident but a deliberate smear. No blowback from Harper or the public. And what of Kenney the propagandist liar who, on international woman’s day earlier this year, tweeted photos we were to take as evidence of ISIL’s brutality (as if we needed more), one depicting a child bride, hands bound, with an older man, presumably her “husband”, and another of many women in chains. Here, again, Kenney proved himself unreliable at best, a liar at worst, for failing to disclose the child-bride photo was fake, the chained women part of a re-enactment of an ancient historical event. And then we have Kenney, liar again, offering as reason for Canada’s extension of the war in Iraq the explanation that Canada and the USA were the only ally nations participating with the capability of precision bombing. That would have been risible were the matter not so serious. Kenney is a fabricator. Or else he just enjoys playing the role of buffoon: “God that Kenney, did you hear him? What a card!” Well, I’m no fan of comedians and certainly no fan of Kenney’s. And I certainly don’t find funny, any more than did Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi when Kenney said, “it seems to me that it’s the mayor and people like him who are politicizing it” after Nenshi registered his “disgust” over the Conservative efforts to fan public intolerance over the niqab issue. The mayor is right, it is “unbelievably dangerous stuff”.

For those wanting a more comprehensive list of the things that should sink this band of scum but likely won’t, I suggest readers copy this offering by David Beers and the staff of The Tyee: http://www.thetyee.ca/Documents/2015/09/24/Harper%20ebook%20final.pdf.

It’s not a pretty picture.

Harper would have us all be afraid. I agree; we should be. But it is not the terrorist out there that frightens me but the one with the title of prime minister. He has disgraced his office, made a mockery of Parliament, and abused our electoral process.

He tells us this is not the time to make a change in government. If not now, then when? He tells us Trudeau is not ready to lead and that Thomas Mulcair will be the ruin of this nation. Who can believe this man when he lies about his accomplishments and trades on fear and racial and religious intolerance? Does the economy matter? Of course it does, but not at any price. Ideas matter too, as do ethics, honesty and personal integrity. I see none of that from any member of the Conservative party and certainly none from Harper.

What I do see in Harper and his gang is meanness and spite, pettiness and arrogance, cowardice and betrayal, despair and misery, and the powerful walking on the weak. It is not just their offensiveness that is troubling, though there is an abundance of nasty in that bunch. It is their arrogance, the certitude of their inerrancy in the positions they adopt their commitment to be blind and deaf to those they do not like that is so galling.

Opposing Harper and gang should not make one the enemy. It is either them or us without any shading and they are always, always, right

We need better. It begins with tossing Harper and his thugs into the ashcan of history. All we should retain of him is memory so that we never tolerate his like again.

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But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing. – Thomas Paine.

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They that can give up essential liberties to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. Benjamin Franklin

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