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KELLIE LEITCH ET AL: THE UGLY FACE OF FEAR & INTOLERANCE

Hatred is the coward’s revenge for being intimidated. – George Bernard Shaw

Hating people is like burning down your own house to get rid of a rat. – Harry Emerson Fosdick

Frank Pelaschuk

Lately, we’ve been hearing a lot about Canadian values. We have heard it from the Liberals, Trudeau oozing, simply oozing sincerity as he puts to words, hand over heart, what we all want to believe of ourselves: welcoming, generous, tolerant, open, free, gracious, kind, polite, humble, not only the best country in the world but also recognized by Canadians at least if seldom declared above a whisper — superior to Americans – though this is something that Trudeau, so eager to win friends and please, would never, never, allow such thoughts let alone they be known. It’s a cozy Canadian picture if a bit overblown and slightly tainted by the aura of modest smugness.

But, while most of us have our own ideas of shared Canadian values, they have been dragged to the fore by Kellie Leitch and fellow conservatives contending for leadership of the party and recently by Tory MPs in the House who oppose M-103, the anti-Islamophobia motion by Liberal MP Iqra Khalid, with fanciful and untrue claims that it will lead to changes in Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms and gives Islam preferential consideration over other, i.e. “Christian”, religions. From that one small step, they argue, will follow more steps including the imposition of Sharia law and the denial of the right to free speech. Such assertions, especially from the Conservative members, are patently absurd and might easily be dismissed as laughably hypocritical were the matter not so serious. Leitch and most of those vying for top spot were members during the Conservative reign of Error under Stephen Harper which, as many may recall, was a government that routinely shunned the “lickspittle” media, that labelled critics, particularly environmentalists, as “radicals” and “stooges” in the service of foreign interests, that broaden the powers of security agencies to spy on Canadians, that made possible charges of economic terrorism against peaceful protestors, that muzzled government scientists, that denied the most fundamental of right of free expression, the vote, to Canadians living abroad more than five years, that, through the CRA, targeted charities perceived as “left-wing”, and that tarred all critics of the Israeli government and its treatment of Palestinians as anti-Jewish going so far, in one instance, as to rescind the thirty year charitable status and government funding of KAIROS, a multi-faith aid agency. On that occasion (2011), the agency had received approval for funding until then cabinet minister Bev Oda forged the government document with the insertion of the word “not” thus denying the charity’s funding and status. The Conservatives, with Jason Kenney leading the charge with claims that the Harper regime was cracking down on anti-Semitic groups, made the false claims that KAIROS had been spearheading the charge of the BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement against the Israeli government. The truth is, KAIROS, while critical of Israel’s policies regarding Palestine, did not support BDS. But Jason Kenney, prone to partisanship, to using government letterheads for party fundraising, to smearing opponents with innuendo and falsehoods, to tweeting bogus images of a child bride with her “husband” and of chained women re-enacting an historical event as if they were “real”, has had a long history of demonstrating that, when it comes to truth, he is a happy stranger as are almost all those conservatives, especially those of the Harper era. As with KAIROS, they lie when they suggest M-103, a non-binding motion to study systemic racism, is a threat to “free speech”. While M-103 could have been worded with greater clarity to leave absolutely no room for the mischief-makers, liars and weasels, there is no secret agenda to undermine “Christian” faiths or to impose Sharia law. The threat comes not from the motion but from those political opportunists who are eager to exploit the ignorant and lazy who prefer to believe the lies that offer them comfort and the illusion of safety and security. Yes, there is danger in the world but, thus far, in Canada and in the US, since the twin towers, the terrorists have been lone wolves Canadian and American born.

IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT

What Kellie Leitch and those of her ilk offer has less to do with Canadian interests than self-interest and self-aggrandizement by any means. It is about achieving power and influence by fair or foul means though, it is true, for some, the foul means seem bred to the bone, easier and more natural. In that respect, Leitch has much in common with Donald Trump with whom she wishes to identify and emulate: neither have much interest in truth or facts nor of the harm they are doing with their inflammatory messages of blame and hate. For that, they have much to answer. Little wonder those spewing vile messages on the social network, encouraging vandalism, offering threats and engaging in violence directed against Muslims, Jews and other marginalized members of our society feel emboldened: they have received the seal of approval from those who seek their votes and tell them exactly what they want to hear: it’s not your fault, we will fix things, we will heal you. As for how, save that for later.

So when Trump talks about security and seeks to ban immigrants from countries with large Muslim populations or when Leitch, particularly following the aftermath of her role in the odious Conservative snitch line debacle, talks about screening refugees for “Canadian values”, there is little reason to doubt that a racist and religious bigot and/or mean-spirited opportunist is at work pandering to the worst in us. Couched in any way she may wish, the message and intent cannot be mistaken. Leitch is referencing Syrians and Muslims in particular. This is not new to her or to the Conservative party but, until the last election campaign, was a relatively tepid political gambit fuelled by world headlines and several Canadian born lone wolf acts of terrorism.

About a month before the October 19, 2015 election, supposedly the last first-past-the-post Trudeau promised (that’s another topic for another time) Leitch and Chris Alexander, another leadership candidate for the Conservatives, stood before the media to announce the creation of a snitch line so that Canadians could report the Barbaric Cultural Practices of those niqab-, hijab-, burka-wearing you-know-who. Months later, the election over and the Conservatives out of power, Kellie Leitch appeared on CBC’s Power & Politics expressing regret with fake tears for her role in the snitch line debacle. Then, just months later, entering the leadership race, she reverted to the persona of the sewer from which she had briefly emerged. Following the murders of six Muslims in a Montreal mosque January 29, 2017, Leitch fell silent for a few days but not, it appears, to reflect on her leadership strategy for soon she was back at it spreading the message of her kind of Canadian values working up the elements of fear among those with the same values and questionable IQs against those, you-know-who, flooding our borders, even though the murderer, a young French-Canadian with an unhealthy interest in white supremacy (likely a characteristic common to her supporters) made a lie of her message. It didn’t and doesn’t matter. For the bigots, hysterics and those poisonous vipers fuelling the fires of racial and religious intolerance, it makes no difference that Canadians have far less to fear from the Muslim and Jewish communities than those communities have to fear from Canadians. Live a lie long enough one begins to believe it; it’s easier to accept you’re not to blame; you’re the victim and others are out for your job, your family, your faith – your life! It’s certainly easier than having to actually think and perhaps risk the niggling worm of doubt forcing you to question those feeding you this line: is there an agenda here?

The manipulators, the fear mongers, the exploiters and users, the power hungry and the power mad (autocrats, despots, and tyrants at heart), know this and they love it. It is not enough to have power but to wield it and wield it ruthlessly. That requires a compliant, ignorant and fearful populace, which seems to have grown in numbers in spite of the opportunities and advances offered by education and science. The dumber we are, the safer and the happier they are. Conservatives and their supporters will tell you that the non-binding motion, M-103, is dangerous but it is unlikely they would encourage you o actually read it for yourself (and it’s very unlikely their supporters in the rank and file have). M-103 clearly states, “the government should: (a) recognise the need to quell the increasing public climate of hate and fear; (b) condemn Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination…” “Condemn Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination.” Only an illiterate or someone with an agenda would see an agenda not there.

Contrary to the naysayers opposed to the motion, nowhere does Islam get preferential treatment. What this motion does is highlight what should be self-evident to anyone who possesses a modicum of integrity and common sense and is able to follow the news: Muslims and Jews are being targeted and the fear mongers, the racists and the lowlife panderers like Leitch and the Conservatives opposing the motion are exploiting this issue less because they believe in Canadian values, which they may well do whatever they are, but because they are more interested in seeking power and influence but suffer from a lack of will and desire to compromise and to be truly original and constructive in ways that will make for a better Canada.

Last year, the Conservative hypocrites suffered no qualms regarding threats to free speech when one of their members made a motion, supported by the Trudeau Liberals, condemning the BDS movement which stated: “That, given Canada and Israel share a long history of friendship as well as economic and diplomatic relations, the House reject the BDS movement, which promotes the demonization and delegitimization of the State of Israel, and call upon the government to condemn any and all attempts by Canadian organizations, groups or individuals to promote the BDS movement, both here at home and abroad.” The motion, as NDP leader Thomas Mulcair noted, was a direct attack against the right of free speech and assembly. Neither the Conservatives nor the Liberals gave a damn. Evidently it’s some kind of crime to be critical of Israel or to suggest that Palestinians have been victims of unfair treatment.

BE AFRAID, YOU ARE THREATENED

So what Canadian values are Leitch, and those of her ilk or even Justin Trudeau’s cash-for-access, ethically challenged and bald-faced lying hypocritical Liberals talking about? While Trudeau and the Liberals have demonstrated many shared, unpleasant, questionable and deceitful traits with the Conservatives (placing trade before Human Rights, reneging on open nominations, and turning away from openness and transparency and from electoral reform, for examples), they, thus far, have demonstrated none of the openly vile tendencies of racial and religious intolerance espoused by Leitch and cohorts; Trudeau is about sunny, sunny, sunny ways, more interested in getting on everyone’s good books promoting trade and himself as a proud feminist but too timid to chid, even mildly, the vile comments of a misogynistic Trump when offered the opportunity to publicly prove himself.

On February 24, 2017, during the penultimate leadership debate at the Manning Centre in Ottawa, Leitch spoke of some of her “values”: generosity, freedom, tolerance. Those are the same values Trudeau, Thomas Mulcair and many Canadians would share yet, uttered by Leitch, seem to hold a different meaning. There is about her demeanour and pinch-faced expression and the way she utters the words a miserliness and mean-spiritedness that saps the words of any value. There are strings attached to her type of generosity, freedom, and tolerance, conditions that require a signature and a surrendering to another what it means to be of an independent mind with values of one’s own. Throughout her campaign, she has been shamelessly vocal in condemning the “elites” by that, I guess, she means the media and those who disagree with her, while, as during the debate and at every occasion, not shy of throwing out her credentials and appealing to prestige by reminding all that she has been published. Well she is a doctor which means she is highly educated but when one sees her eight plus minute campaign video and the message she offers, you may be left asking: what good did it do her?

Clearly, there are some politicians who believe it really doesn’t take all that much to get voters on their side. Trump appears proof of that. For some, all you have to do is make a lot of grand promises without even a pretence of keeping them; you’ll worry about the fallout later and, if you are Trudeau, with a pretty face, nice hair, if you are named the best-dressed leader in the world and if you declare yourself a feminist and interfere in nominations to ensure that your preference, a woman, is selected, if you ooze, simply ooze sincerity, well, it doesn’t matter, the public will forgive all because you are golden. Or you can be famous, famous for being loud, brash, egotistical, and rich, rich, rich. That might be enough. No need to be a full-time Canadian; ideas are needed here either, just a promise to save the country and bluff, loud talk and self-congratulatory bluster.

For some, all it takes is the right message to win the vote. Pander to the fears, greed, and stupidity of the hateful and brutish. Everyone’s out for the main chance so promise anything, you don’t have to deliver. Next time do it all again. Fear, hate and greed are all you need to worry about. If you’re a politician, that will make you a winner, if not today, next time.

As for now, go about your business of getting elected, brag about your wealth or your credentials and hammer home the message that the world is a dangerous, dangerous place, that the voter is the victim and the barbarians with frothing mouths are pounding at the door wanting you and yours. Ignore the hateful, violent messages scrolled on school blackboards threatening harm to our Muslim and Jewish neighbours, ignore the firebombed mosque, the swastikas painted on synagogue walls, and the Muslim and Jewish tombstones overturned by the vandals, ignore the victims harassed and threatened and beaten on the streets. Ignore all this and say: I didn’t do this. I didn’t contribute. I’m not responsible.

Well, Leitch, if not you and those like you, who is?

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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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STEPHEN HARPER AND GANG: THE MORAL FLEXIBILITY OF HYPOCRITES

Trust not him with your secrets who, when left alone in your room, turns over your papers. – Johan Kasper Lavater

Tyrants have not yet discovered any chains that can fetter the mind. – Charles Caleb Colton

Frank A. Pelaschuk

 

GOLLY GEE LOOK AT ME; I’M A LEADER

Stephen Harper still rides high in the polls largely as a result of Conservative mythmaking, dishonest use of public funds to promote the Conservative story under the guise of informing the public and the skilful employment of populist rhetoric that panders to the worst in us whipping us into a frenzy of Islamophobia and hysteria at the risk of abandoning any pretence towards safeguarding civil and individual liberties.

Too, it doesn’t help that his target audience, largely apolitical and uninvolved, is often too lazy and too willing to trust a government that in its shameless perversity admonishes other nations for failure to honour and promote the loftiest goals of democracy while undermining it at home with its anti-terrorism legislation. There is more at stake than an attack against civil rights. Indeed, there is a threat to democracy as Harper seeks to turn Canada into a Corporatocracy willing to rub shoulders and do trade with tyrants and their murderous regimes.

Harper is the unrepentant hypocrite who refuses to allow Canadian journalists to record him with Cuban socialist leader, Raúl Castro, and yet giddily fawns over the pro-business prime minister of India, Narendra Modi, and signs a deal to ship uranium to a country once considered a rogue state for many reasons, one of which was for breaking a 1956 pledge to use Canadian uranium for “peaceful purposes”. What assurances did Harper obtain from Modi and what is Canada’s liability if Modi reneges on the promise of using the uranium solely for energy production? There was a time when Modi was persona non grata in much of the western world, including Canada, because of allegations of his involvement, directly or indirectly, in the murders of Muslims when he was chief minister of the state of Gujarat. Too, as prime minister, there are still lingering suspicions that he has little interest in protecting religious minorities who often fall victim in violence, including murder.

While I do not object to trade, I believe Harper should be more circumspect with whom he deals and calls friend. Pandering for the east-Indian vote and on behalf of the interests of corporate friends should not come at any cost with Canada keeping silent to the abuses against Indian minorities. Yet, unless I’ve missed it, I’ve heard nothing on that score from Harper. That disturbs me and it disturbs me even more so knowing of Harper handing over land worth $30 million to erect a monument to the victims of Communism. I see red and a thuggish hypocrite in a suit, a miserable cretin who clearly believes the victims of murderous pro-business dictators are somehow less worthy and somehow different from those of communist states (unless, as with China, he manages to overcome his squeamishness enough to score huge trade deals; then he just takes the money and keeps mum). He’s probably right of course the victims of capitalist dictator states are different. They are likely feminists, unionists, environmentalists, mothers supportive of family planning, and Socialists, fighting against the Western exploiters of workers and land and we all know what Harper thinks of family planning, unionists, environmentalists, and “Communists”.

Still, if Canadians haven’t wakened to the awful reality of Harper by now, it is doubtful they ever will in the near future. Even if Harper loses the next election, and I doubt the Conservatives will, it appears the public will only opt for change that is insignificant. In that eventuality, voters will turn to the Liberal party, which, in reality, is not all that different from the Harper Conservatives (they support the war in Iraq and C-51, the anti-terrorist bill with promises to amend it at a later date. Yeah, right.). Unlike Harper, the liberal leader is young, well meaning and charismatic. Unfortunately, like Harper, he thus far offers little in the way that is new and hopeful. It will be the same old same old, the Conservatives, if turfed, turfed for doing exactly, only better, what the Liberals were doing when they were booted out of office.

Sadly, it will not, however, be the NDP that gains unless the unexpected happens, the public waking up and/or the Conservatives running a clean election (Oops, too late on that front). The New Democratic Party, with Thomas Mulcair as leader, has proven itself a party of ideas, vision, ability, and intelligence as has Mulcair who possesses, if not the charisma of Trudeau, the skill and maturity of experience Trudeau lacks. But for a self-absorbed, self-indulgent, and materialistic and shallow disinterested public, none of this will likely matter. Voters will likely stick to the tried-and-dishonest, preferring the false promises of Harper, who lies, misleads, and picks the public wallet with the same ease, glibness and skill of the tainted snake-oil salesman spending $7.7 million for Tory ads masking as government information bulletins. We can expect to see lots of ads, ads promoting the Conservative balanced budget, childcare benefit increases, income splitting and, of course, its wars on crime and terrorism. Too, there will be lots of ads showing off our Canadian Forces, heroic images of men and women in battle, rappelling down ropes, parachuting, fighting drug smugglers on the high seas, protecting the north against the Russians, “proud to go where many are not” as one ad has it while another says “fight fear, fight chaos, fight distress”. This laughable last from a government that has been stoking the flames of fear, chaos and distress even as it attempts to inflate its own image on the world stage with Harper’s strutting, hectoring bombast and Canada’s contribution of six fighter jets and a few hundred special forces to train Iraqi and Ukrainian troops. The message is clear: Harper will save us all if not the world. “Proud to go where many are not”. Catchy hyperbole if nothing else.

GIVE ME YOUR MONEY AND I’LL GIVE YOU MORE LIES

It’s all about the vote, the main chance, the “what’s in it for me” attitude. Ideological blindness and selfishness will not easily embrace, let alone demand, integrity, honesty, decency of our politicians; such sentiments, while noble, belong to another era and evidently have no place in today’s world. It’s much easier and more appealing to embrace ignorance, intolerance and fearmongering than having to actually think: hysteria and bigotry wins. Add to that mix the Conservative lie of sound fiscal management…. well, stupidity wins…by a landslide. This is false advertising and a form of theft; it may be legal, but it’s wrong. Canadians who have been ripped off by good ole’ Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin are also having their pockets picked by Stephen Harper and his gang. Yet not a peep from those who believe civil servants are overpaid and underworked.

But God help you if you’re a single parent or the sole, low-income earner.

So then, whose fault is it really? A corrupt government that attempts to rig elections, that spreads the lies, that appropriates for itself tax dollars for propaganda purposes and resorts to bribery of an indifferent, sleeping populace easily distracted and satisfied with cheap, shiny promises while the wealthy, Harper’s business friends and cronies, benefit even more thanks to the largesse of Conservatives depleting the public purse on their behalf for their votes and the promise of job creation? Job creation? So, where are the jobs? For Harper, there is no greater demonstration of love for such folk than cutting taxes, cutting services and sacrificing union workers while also working with Big Business to suppress Canadian wages with the Temporary Foreign Workers Program. And, if you have an offshore account, even better for you. He loves you so much that he believes you should be able to swim in our money in your offshore accounts without having to worry about the taxman coming after you. He has cut 3,000 jobs from the Canada Revenue agency: there’s no one to chase you, the money you stole from the Canadian purse is all yours! But, not to fret, he is going after those nuisance left-wing charities none of you like. The Fraser Institute is safe as are others of its ilk. The million or two he saves by taking on these leftie charities that promote family planning and affordable daycare and shelter for the homeless will be enough to appease the wingnut Conservatives. The best thing of all is that Harper will then offer taxpayer-funded ads telling us all how he has saved our dollars!

So, as Harper regales us with tales of money saved and dire warnings of terrorists targeting Canada and Canadians and of murderers on every street and of laws too lax favouring criminals (by criminals he doesn’t mean those wealthy friends of with offshore accounts or MPs and Senators stiffing taxpayers with bogus expense claims), he also reaches out with both hands, one offering shiny bribes in the way of tax cuts, more jails, longer jail time, and, fingers crossed, the assurances that he, only he and his Conservatives can save us. And the other outstretched hand? Why, it’s picking the public purse; someone has to pay for those Conservative/government ads and it ain’t going to be the Conservative Party.

Are there really that many stupid voters? Is there not a brain in those who support Harper? Does not one of them remember or care that when Harper became prime minister he inherited a surplus of $13 plus billion? Recently Joe Oliver announced that they would have a balanced budget. Where has the money come from, the money suddenly available and thrown about as carelessly and lavishly as champagne at a bacchanal? Remember, just weeks ago, Harper could not even find money for our veterans. Not only has he promised a balanced budget, Harper’s minister has mandated that all future budgets be balanced by law unless during times of war or natural disaster. It’s a gimmick that, if enforced, would severely hamstring future governments. It’s all show and yet some of you out there will buy it. To you I ask this: What the hell’s wrong with you? Where does the money come from? Well, not from corporations paying their fair share. We all talk about wanting honest governance, MPs with integrity and an idea of what ethics mean. We all want improved Healthcare, better roads. None of us believe children should go hungry or be denied a good education. Yet no one wants to pay. I agree, make governments more efficient. A good start is by electing honest politicians who actually do believe we are all part of society and that we must all share the joys as well as the pain and that pandering to special interests are a thing of the past. No. The Harper gang doesn’t care for that sop nor do those who vote for them.

Do you want better for everyone? If you voted for Harper or intend to do so again, clearly not. Under Harper’s governance, Canada has racked up seven successive deficits to a staggering sum. Since 2007 – 2008, the Harper years, the national debt has grown by $650 billion for a total of $1.8 trillion. So much for the myth of the Master Economist. So, how will Harper balance his budget this year? One way, of course, is to overestimate the costs of governance and claim a surplus for money unspent. That’s an old trick one that the public surely must have picked up on by now. Another way is for Harper to sell Canada’s GM shares that came from propping up the auto company to the tune $13.7 billion in taxpayer funding during the 2008 meltdown. The Harper gang recently sold the shares for a return of $10.2 billion. That’s a loss of $3.5 billion. Sound fiscal management? Does this really seem like a man who knows what he’s doing? Finance minister Oliver says the funds from the GM sale will not be needed to help him balance the budget as the numbers were already in place before that. Does anyone really, really, really believe him? If so, why didn’t Harper sell the shares earlier and balance the budget before this?

This is the government that has laid off thousands of public servants, restricted their pay raise and yet accepted for themselves a pay raise of 2.3%. Now wages of MPs and Senators are tied in to settlements reached by private sector companies. It is the secretive, controversial Board of Internal Economy, made up of MPs, which oversees House of Commons administration. The Board of Internal Economy can refuse or accept the wage increase. Not surprising it recommended the wage increase for MPs, an increase that is almost five times that of public servants! Even less surprising, not one of the pigs at the trough rejected the recommendation. But where is the public, those loudmouth Conservatives always whinging about public waste? Where is the rage? Not a peep. Probably too busy planning how to spend the windfall coming their way or, if among the less fortunate, a single parent and low income earner, too busy juggling two or more jobs. Families of children under six will receive an additional $60 for a total of $160 as of January 1st of this year while those with children ages 6 to 17 will receive a new benefit of $60 a month per child. However, the $60 increases will be held back until July 1 when all families will receive a retroactive payment of $420 per child, just three months before the October 19 election. Perhaps this gives a clue to the public silence regarding MP pay raises and the silence regarding the shabby treatment of public servants, workers who really keep governments working. Apparently, as long as families with kids get their share, they couldn’t care less about politicians picking their pockets and treating civil servants like trash. Pigs don’t care what the farmer does as long as they get their share.

But what about those childcare benefits? Who really gains? Well, Harper if he has his way, and he will, and those families who really don’t need it. Recently, the Parliamentary Budget Office released a report saying that over half of the money Ottawa will spend towards child care will go to families with little or no child-care costs. That’s Harper for you, always there to help those who already have. Over the years, costs for child benefits rose as follows: 2006 – $600 million; 2013 – $3.3 billion; 2015 – $7.7 billion. Under Harper, 51% of the benefits will go to families who have no childcare costs. Those with children over 13 years of age “will receive nearly eight times the amount they spend on caring for their offspring” (Tom Parry, CBC News, March 31, 2015).

WHAT JOB CUTS?

That families who really don’t need this money will receive these breaks largely at the expense service and public servant job losses apparently troubles them and the Harper gang not at all. Harper knows everyone hates public servants (“deadwood” to Tony Clement who, in 2010, dipped in the trough for a $50 million slush fund for his riding) – until they need them. So families with teenagers will earn money for children who incur no costs while those from poorer families unable to afford daycare will continue to be left out of the equation. Nothing changes for single-parent families, for the poor, the homeless, or the mentally ill. They are short-changed. Again.

Nothing illustrates the inequality more vividly than Harper’s slightly altered income-splitting program that Parliamentary Budget Officer, Jean-Denis Frechette, says will cost Canadians $2.2 billion federally and $1.7 billion provincially. Of that money, those who already have, high- and middle-income earners, that’s about 15%, will get the lion’s share and the rest, 85% of households, very little while those at the bottom of the income scale will experience “near zero” benefit, about 1/6th of those in the upper bracket. The wealthy will get an additional $2000. But it’s unlikely this will negatively impact Harper and gang this upcoming election.

One way they will get the balanced budget has been through job cuts of public sector workers. But is this what we want or need? I guess so if you plan to vote the Harper in again. In 2008, twenty-three Canadian consumers of Maple Leaf products died as a result of Listeriosis. The Harper government had cut services to many governmental agencies including the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). Of that tragedy, the agriculture minister, Gerry Ritz quipped, “This is like a death by a thousand cuts. Or should I say cold cuts.” Nice. Since that terrible event, the Harper gang have made claims to improving the system. Really? The Conservatives boast of having hired more food inspectors. So what, if true? In 2012, four years after Maple Leaf, the Alberta plant owned by XL Foods, sent out meat tainted with E. coli and were not notified by CFIA for two weeks. In fact, it was American border agents who caught the tainted meat, which, up to that time, resulted in the largest recall of bad meat in Canadian history. Just recently, a BC meat processing plant, Meadow Valley Meats, was charged with 11 counts of selling meat unfit for human consumption and covering it up in 2011. The company pleaded guilty of one count of selling meat with E. coli. It received a fine. It should have been closed. In December of last year, 31,000 pounds of meat shipped by the Cargill plant in Calgary for Walmart was recalled. According to CBC News James Cudmore (Dec. 14, 2014), it was not CFIA that discovered the tainted me but an obscure federally run public health program, FoodNet Canada. Hiring more “food inspectors” do nothing to enhance product safety when this government deregulates food processing so that the role of food inspector has become diminished to that of rubber-stamper for in-house testing by food producers.

On March 31 of this year, Canadian Food Inspectors have spoken up saying that the government promise to improve food inspections is a fiction; the reverse has happened. They also claim that meat shipped to American is getting preferential treatment over that of meat for Canadian consumers. In fact, the government has rolled back any improvements (very few) that did take place after 2008 with job cuts and by increasing the workload of food inspections. This is not news. This government has worked at undermining the CFIA and Health Canada for years going so far as to fire staff daring to voice their concerns. This government continues to lie about the problems with CFIA and, it appears, the public simply doesn’t care or get it: the Harper gang worries less about public consumer health than they do about the health of Corporate Canada. Where is the rage? How many more will die before Canadians wake up and consign this filthy gang to the trash can of history? Ritz is still the minister of agriculture and is the minister overseeing the sale of the Canada Wheat Board, which, to some, has an estimated value of a billion dollars, and yet a 51% share is being sold to G3 a venture of food company Bunge Ltd., an American company, and Global Grain Group a Saudi company. That’s an interesting choice considering that Canada’s oil is ethical (as opposed to Saudi oil) but the Saudi consortium can own over half of the resources, resources that were paid for by Canadian famers, for $250 million. Yeah, once again Harper and gang betray the interests of Canadians for that of corporate bargain hunters.

IT’S NOT BETRAYAL; I HAVE THE MAJORITY

Harper’s regime betrays at every turn, not just in the way he changes laws and rams them through with his majority and not just by his many efforts to slip legislation into omnibus bills and subvert the electoral process, but also by his attempts to undermine our institutions, in particular the Supreme Court of Canada. This is a government that has no hesitation in pushing the boundaries by creating legislation that is bound to fail when challenged in the Supreme Court. This is no accident by stupid people. These people are not just mean and with an agenda they are also anti-democratic. They have made a mockery of Parliament by refusing to answer questions put to them by opposition members and they have gone out of their way to whip public sentiment against Canada’s highest court and the justice system in general by creating legislation doomed to fail. This allows them to then suggest these failures are proof of an activist, Anti-Conservative Court. That is not true, of course, but to those who support the Harper agenda and who have a tendency to point fingers and blame, who prefer punishment over seeking solutions, the invidious lie is enough, they know, just know, in their gut, that Harper and gang are right, that crime is rampant, murderers are on every street, and guns, only guns and godly Conservatives will save them. So the Conservatives deliberately overreach, hoping some legislation sticks and those that don’t will be attributed to the Supreme Court’s activism. As a result of such deliberate mishandling of legislation, of ignoring experts and opposition members, Harper lost another of many decisions to the courts. This time it was a rejection of his mandatory minimum sentencing for illegal possession of guns. He lost when his government attempted to deny assisted suicides. He lost when the high Court found prostitution laws unconstitutional and ordered him to come up with new legislation. He lost when he attempted to appoint Marc Nadon to the Supreme Court. As a result of that verdict, Harper, Justice Minister, Peter MacKay, and the gang engaged in a smear campaign against Supreme Court Justice Beverley McLachlin with the charge of political interference. These are not nice people but it appears with every loss to the Supreme Court the Conservative base willingly swallows the Harper gang’s poisonous lies regarding activist courts.

MY WAR, YOUR RISK

It should surprise no one that Harper has expanded his war against ISIS with little consultation or debate. That is not unusual; he has little to no room for honest, open dialogue and even less desire to reconsider any of his positions especially those regarding his anti-terrorism bill, C-51. What little debate there was resembled something from the plague years of McCarthyism, committee Conservative hacks Diane Ablonczy, Rick Norlock and LeVar Payne, in a shocking demonstration of ignorance and partisanship, ridiculing witnesses, questioning the integrity of those opposing the bill and running the clock so as to forestall questioning by opposition members on the committee. It was cheap shameless disrespectful theatre by Conservatives without even pretence of fairness, gutter ambush by guttersnipes.

When the Harper Conservatives voted to expand the war against ISIL, they evoked the image of “moral clarity”. That is a bit rich coming from a party that has long ago set aside any pretensions to governing with a moral compass. We have had Conservative members forced to resign over questions of expense claims, Dean del Mastro found guilty of election fraud, Conservative workers sent to jail for the robocalls fiasco and the Conservative party paying a fine for breaking election laws. In truth, morality and ethics are strangers to this gang. Even when it comes to training our troops, they must act in secrecy. In this instance it is justified, perhaps, shame playing less a role than possibility of a public backlash, I suspect. The National Post has reported that Blackwater USA, a highly controversial private security force, mercenaries, has been training our troops in Afghanistan. Blackwater USA, with ties going back to the Bush administration, played a role in the killings of civilians in Iraq in 2007. Of the four charged and found guilty, one received a life sentence and three 30 years each. This linkage of Canadian troops to mercenaries was new to me but not surprising; nothing surprises me with this gang. If the devil were a businessman, Harper would happily consort with him. He’s already dirtied his hands by doing business with despots and murderers. If one is pro-business, it doesn’t matter his crimes, Harper turns a blind eye. He refuses to see. Or to care.

I am disheartened by the public willingness to ignore the dirty tricks, the scandals, the lies, the bad governance, the fomenting of hysteria and intolerance. Where is the public outrage as the Harper gang spreads the poisonous filth of fear and bigotry that borders on Islamophobia? I’m an old man and remember a time when people took an interest. It seems with the Internet and selfies a whole generation has drifted into casual indifference to the world around them. God help them when they wake up.

On March 24, when Harper put forward his proposal to extend the war against ISIS for another year, he did not rule out the possibility of feet on the ground in Syria as well. “Self-defence” he offers as justification. That stretches credulity because untrue; Canada has not been a direct target of ISIS. The Liberals, originally supportive of the war, says it will not support this expansion. The NDP has been opposed all along saying the government has been less than truthful and have no exit strategy. Undeterred, Harper and gang still evoke the images of terror and have no issue with outright lying to make their point.

Take Defence Minister Jason Kenney, for instance. A while back, he used his government’s letterhead to fundraise on behalf of the Conservative Party. He was untrustworthy then. Today, as he continues to defend his government’s role, he continues to prove himself completely untrustworthy as minister, spokesman, or witness, sending out photos of chained women that were, in reality, recreations of historical events or, as the case with one depicting a child bride, hands tied, which was proven to be a fake. He’s the fellow who tweeted Cirillo’s death even before the military learned of it. Critics have referred to these as “missteps”. Generous considering the frequency and eagerness of his use of twitter to inflame public sentiment with such nasty surprises. He is a partisan attention seeker, nothing wrong in that if you like bombast and hot air, but there is when he smears opponents by innuendo as when he forwarded a letter to Sun Media, a shrill Conservative fan base, using his Parliamentary email to suggest Justin Trudeau supported religious extremists by his visiting of a mosque in Montreal in 2011 that the New York Times had claimed in an article to have been linked by the military to al-Qaida. None of the Conservatives who picked up the story, including Harper, Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney and anyone in the PMO could work up the decency to tell the whole story, that Trudeau had visited the Al Sunnah Al-Nabawiah mosque a month before the New York Times story ran. Was this just another Jason Kenney misstep? Did no one, not even in the PMO know the mosque was not on the list when Trudeau visited? If not, why are they still in charge? The smear by Kenney was vile and clearly meant to pose an ugly question regarding Trudeau’s loyalty and relationship to terrorists.

During what little debate there was on expanding the war, Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party, rose to request if she could speak on the issue. Because she does not have full party status, she must have unanimous support to be allowed to speak. A few petty ignoramuses in the Conservative Party shouted “No”, thus denying an elected Member of Parliament the opportunity to be heard on an issue that affects all Canadians. Cheap, very cheap.

TRUST ME, I’M A CONSERVATIVE

Harper is a man leading a party made up of folks without a moral compass, without a shred of decency and without an iota of shame.

As a judge of good character, Harper has proven himself abysmal. And indifferent. It is evident that ethics doesn’t play a role in his thinking when he picks his people and makes decisions.

We have been witness to the debacle resulting from his appointments of Pamela Wallin, Mike Duffy and Patrick Brazeau to the Senate and the unseemly behaviour of Senators David Tkachuk and Carolyn Stewart Olsen of the Senate Internal Economy Committee whitewashing the Deloitte audit of Mike Duffy after Duffy agreed to repay the money owed for fraudulent claims and which allowed Leader of the Government in the Senate, Marjory LeBreton, to declare the matter closed.

We also know, though we were led to believe otherwise, it was not Mike Duffy who repaid the money but PMO Chief of Staff at the time, Nigel Wright. We have witnessed the departure of Peter Penashue, called by Harper the greatest MP “ever” from Labrador for illegally accepting corporate donations during his campaign, which he won. We have seen Bev Oda, the forger of a government document, forced to leave after charging, one time too many, expense claims to which she was not entitled. We have witnessed how Shelly Glover and James Bezan fought against Elections Canada by refusing, initially, to submit full and proper claims during their 2011 campaign. Shelly Glover (again) and Leona Aglukkaq, a true model of incompetence, were both caught at separate fundraisers attended by members of the community who stood to gain by decisions made by their departments. Glover, caught on camera, is clearly heard to unhappily exclaim when she saw the media, “What are they doing here?” Mike Sona, a junior staffer, was sentenced to jail time for his role in the robocalls scandal. Dean del Mastro was found guilty of election fraud and is facing possible jail time. Mike Duffy is presently facing the courts for ripping off taxpayers for expense claims. Pamela Wallin is also facing possible criminal charges for illegal expense claims. So is Patrick Brazeau. Recently, we have learned that Diane Finley, minister of public works has had her knuckles rapped for breach of ethics in awarding a contract to the Markham Centre for Skills and Independence in 2011. The allegation is she favoured a project backed by a Rabbi Chaim Mendelsohn friendly to the Conservatives; this after it was rejected by her own department. For Harper, the fact that Finley did not personally gain was sufficient reason to still support her. Harper did the same with Wallin, claiming in the House, “I have looked at the numbers. Her travel costs are comparable to any parliamentarian travelling from that particular area of the country over a period of time.” For Finley, there will be no consequences because the Ethics Commissioner, Mary Dawson, has no power to punish. As we have already seen with the Harper gang, ethics, as most understand it, plays no role. For Harper, ethics is what he and the gang decide is ethical and that includes rigging elections and suppressing votes and imposing anti-terrorism legislation that is so sweeping that every individual who ever voiced a critical thought about this vile gang could, theoretically, be subjected to surveillance, harassment and even arrest.

What is almost amusing is how the gun-loving Conservatives supporters are silent on C-51. In the past, they railed against the Long Gun Registry as a way of spying and “criminalizing” “law-abiding” gun owners. They had their way and Harper scrapped the registry. Now, with a bill that threatens to trample on civil rights and free speech, the gun-worshippers are strangely silent except in their support of Harper.

No, it’s not just Harper and his gang who are hypocrites. But they are more than enough for me.

As for all those who stand up in protest against Bill C-51? A grateful thanks. It’s nice to know that not all have succumbed to the Harper myth.

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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 not safety. Benjamin Franklin

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