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THE WORM IN THE APPLE: STEPHEN HARPER AND DEMOCRACY

 Certitude is not the test of certainty. – Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

I hear many condemn these men because they were so few. When were the good and brave ever in the majority? – Henry David Thoreau

 

 

Frank A. Pelaschuk

 

If there is any hope for the Canadian future, surely it cannot be with Harper’s Conservatives, particularly the core band of entrenched, witless supporters who find their brand of nasty dirty tricks somehow acceptable if not bracing. Who cares what the goals are or how they are achieved or who shunted aside: anything goes at any cost. Civility, decency, honesty, and transparency appear to be mere products of another by-gone era; quaint, fondly remembered, but no longer tolerable, expedient, or expected. For such as these, morality is gauged by self-interest and individual gains. Democracy is a fine sentiment but what’s in it for me. The world has changed. So must we. Let’s rig the game.

It is not a pleasant vision. But these are not pleasant folk.

GENERAL BULLMOOSE LIVES

Harper and his gang know something about their supporters that core of true believers who cannot, will not, be swayed regardless of how secretive, dishonest, corrupt, mean-spirited or vile this Conservative regime is. That core is made up of the intractable self-centred, self-loving, of mean-spirited, free-enterprising corporate free-loaders, of gun-loving, anti-union, anti-government, tax-hating “but-“want-everything” lumpens, of belligerent immigrant vilifiers and exploiters, of “punish” the poor, the homeless, the helpless and hapless. It is upon this ilk that the Harper gang most relies. Come next election, victory is assured as long as they can divide the vote between the NDP and the Liberals and sway a few soft votes from either camp. Just to be certain, it might help to rig the Elections Act and gerrymander 30 new ridings with boundaries redistribution. It’s all about the economy, jobs and reduced taxes they will tell you appealing to your baser instincts neglecting to tell you that it’s really about power and suppression: getting power and keeping it. But, in order to keep that power, Harper and his gang believe it is necessary to wage war against Canadian citizens and organizations that stand in opposition to their narrow, single-minded fixation on the economy and tax cuts to the neglect of all the rest that makes for a successful, thriving, decent, and generous society. This is a group so devoted to their goals and yet are so frightened and so distrustful of their own citizens, the sixty per cent who did not vote for them, that, even with their majority of seats, still feels insecure. Wedded to an ideology, they cannot understand why most Canadians do not support them. To them, it is incomprehensible that so many voters find their policies exclusionary, limited, and just plain mean. Surely it’s all about money and self-interest and the welfare of Big Business. To quote Al Capp, they believe “What’s good for General Bullmoose (Capp’s fictional ruthless, mercenary capitalist) is good for everybody.” They are not wrong. It is good – for Big Business.

Over the past few years Harper and gang have deprived Canadians of over $43 billion with corporate tax cuts. Some figures place the cuts at $60 billion. It is estimated that corporate tax cuts are about $12 billion a year. The Conservative myth is that investing in business creates jobs. Where is the evidence? One thing is certain and neither the Harper gang nor the corporate beneficiaries of the largesse extracted from Canadians seem too eager to boast of it: corporate welfare is very good for Big Business but it comes at the expense of service cuts and public service jobs. They prefer buzzwords: restructuring, modernizing. The benefits, however, do not extend to our veterans nor those homeless on the streets but rather the sleazy group of Conservative politicians and CEOs who can boast about creating low income, part-time jobs. Whatever benefits most Canadians at the lower end of the scale may derive amount to little more than three to four hundred dollars a year, which are quickly consumed by increases in utility rates or goods. Canadians are left holding the bag carrying more of the load while the infrastructure upon which we depend, our highways, bridges, hospitals, public services, drinking water, public pension plans, and public safety nets are increasingly placed at risk through cuts, underfunding, and maintenance neglect. For Harper, hurling a few tiny shiny tokens our way is sufficient; it has never been about the welfare of Canadians but the welfare of Big Business. As we have seen with his regime’s persistent and often deceitful efforts to ensure that the Keystone XL pipeline and other pet projects succeed (including smearing opponents and downplaying the risks), he and his gang take on the roles of corporate shills. These Harper Conservative thugs apparently cannot understand why some Canadians are not convinced that cutting taxes for corporations, that keeping wages of low income earners low, and that keeping low income workers fearful of losing their jobs to immigrants is good for society, good for the economy. That it doesn’t work, that it’s a lie, doesn’t deter them. One can almost hear the puzzlement as those tiny peas rattle behind those beady, greedy eyes. What’s wrong with millionaires making more; after all, they create the jobs, they create wealth, they keep the economy going? It would be nice to test that theory if only for one agreed upon day when every worker on the globe found the courage to lay down his tools, held back his services and his skills. Let the Lords and Masters discover for themselves who really creates wealth, who keeps the world humming and functioning. Would the world tremble, come to a juddering halt for that single day? Perhaps not, but it would notice. And if it were extended to a second or third day…but it will not of course as long as workers believe they are powerless or lack the courage to take a stand.

It’s not a one way street, but Harper and his gang and their Masters in Big Business would have us believe differently: everything we have is through the generosity of the Titans of Capitalism and we should be grateful and keep our mouths shut. It’s a lie, as big a lie as saying all civil servants are lazy or every welfare claimant is a fraud or that every successful business man did it all by himself. Free enterprisers are often our biggest freeloaders. There is never enough for them. Hands out of our pockets, they scream while displaying no signs of hesitation in extending theirs for taxpayer monies during times of trouble or when blackmailing us into forking over huge grants and tax cuts to set up shop under threat they’ll look elsewhere. But, even then, that is often not enough. Even when the taxes are the lowest in North America, when the government well runs dry, when the government annual handouts stop, they often close shops, fire workers and run back home richer and happier without so much as a good-by kiss but rather a Kiss My Ass, Sucker!

It happens time and again and all governments play along as if it were some game. We voters are as much to blame for we keep on voting those scoundrels in time and again. As long as there are workers who swallow the line that they deserve less and others deserve more, that unions are greedy and Corporations charities, the likes of Harper and his crew will continue to sell out Canadians with a shoddy bill of goods. As long as we allow them to divert our attention away from their misdeeds by scapegoating others for our ills, they will crow and we will whine and others will bear the brunt of our fury. So it’s fixed minimum mandatory jail times and mandatory victim surcharges applied against the meanest and lowest and poorest among us, surcharges some judges have ignored as cruel and vindictive one, Ontario Court Justice David Paciocco writing in a 31 page judgement, “This is a crushing amount for him, beyond his foreseeable means. It is a sum that, in relative hardship, is many multiples of what a moneyed offender would have to pay. Simply put, Mr. Michael (the accused) is being treated more harshly because of his poverty than someone who is wealthy” (The Ottawa Citizen, Aug. 1, ’14).

THERE ARE ENEMIES EVERYWHERE

Yes, the economy and jobs certainly do matter. But there are other things equally important if not more so. Yet, it seems, neither Harper nor his supporters believe so.

So, what is it that Harper and his small, vindictive, insecure, weak crew fear from their own citizens that they feel compelled to wage war on them? Not content with their majority, which they happily wield as a bludgeon to ram through bills and batter the opposition to submission, they have displayed an unhealthy disregard for democracy itself using subterfuge in the forms of omnibus bills to sneak in legislation with little to no time offered for debate and examination; proposed amendments are dismissed out of hand or, if accepted, are trivial and trivialized. Opponents to these bills wanting nothing more than time to examine and debate them are smeared, charged with siding with pornographers or their patriotism questioned. This is vile stuff. What does Harper fear? He has the majority; the bills would pass. So what harm is there in demonstrating a little grace, in making some amendments that, if done well, would not only accomplish the stated goals, but would likely pass the smell and legal tests as well? To hold a majority and be generous is not weakness. In fact, the duty of all governments is to protect the interests of all citizens even it’s perceived enemies. However, this government acts out of weakness and fear and, in doing so, proves itself cowardly as it bullies and threatens and imposes. Every individual, every organization, every public servant and every citizen is viewed with suspicion if he or she dares stand up to this regime and say, “What you are doing is wrong”. This gang cannot accept such a criticism. They believe themselves inherently superior to all others who do not share their vision. They cannot apologize or admit to being wrong; they will not retreat. That is the danger of an Ideology embraced so tightly that it allows no room for oxygen. The oxygen deprived cannot imagine that opponents might have worthwhile contributions to offer in the way of ideas or change. And, because they are oxygen deprived, the Harper Conservatives appear incapable of holding more than one thought: they are right and everyone else is wrong, is out to get them, is a crazed left-winger and left-wingers, as everyone knows, are incapable of fiscal responsibility or of even a single good idea.

We have Harper and his gang attacking government watchdog agencies that are meant to protect the public from governmental abuses. We have oafish Mark Adler wishing to propose legislation that would force employees in these agencies swear loyalty oaths. But to whom would these workers be loyal? The agencies? The public at large? Or the Harper gang? Based on their behaviour, I know the answer to that and so do you if you’re not a blind adherent to the Harper agenda. As it is, those working for the PMO must sign life-long non-disclosure agreements. Why? What are Harper and gang doing on our behalf that we are not entitled to know? Right away I’m suspicious. I don’t trust them. I can’t trust them. Unless it touches upon matters of utmost national security, Canadians have every right to know everything its government does. Unfortunately, this government, which campaigned on transparency and honesty, had long ago abandoned those promises. Everyone is a potential terrorist, especially the voter that wants to boot this regime out of office. Harper really seems to believe that knowledge is a dangerous thing. As a consequence, Canadians have yet to be informed of the true costs of those overpriced fighter jets, the F-35s which Harper and the then Minister of Defence Peter MacKay claimed would be about $9 billion. Critics however, including the then Parliamentary Budget Officer, Kevin Page, believe the costs will be much, much more. Thus far the estimates have pegged them ballooning from $45 to $125 billion. This lack of information is typical of the Harper gang. But, ask yourself: as a taxpayer footing the bill, shouldn’t you know how much it’s going to cost you? Harper believes not.

And because Harper does not think Canadians should know, or are incapable of handling what they might learn, he insists that knowledge should be limited. The less Canadians know, the better for all concerned. Especially for him and his crew. How can we ask questions to what we don’t know? So the Conservative gang muzzles scientists, smear critics and consider the poor and homeless as suspect. In fact, everyone is suspect. That legitimizes his efforts to obtain warrantless access to our internet accounts. Under the guise of going after pedophiles, the security agencies may as well hunt around for terrorists, perhaps learn what we think of this government, what are views are on the Israel/Palestine question etc. Enemies are everywhere; you could be one.

What Harper fears is certainly not those who form his core base of support and vote for him and his ilk. It is not even the spies, terrorists, criminals, immigrants he and the gang are quite happy to evoke at every opportune moment to play on our fears, exploit our bigotry and feed upon our ignorance to help keep him in power. It is knowledge that Harper fears and the wisdom that comes with it. An informed public is dangerous.

AND THEY ARE US

Unfortunately for Harper and crew, the quest for knowledge and truth is unquenchable and unstoppable. Unfortunately for Canadians, knowledge and truth are not enough when you have a government led by such as this vile gang for whom no dirty trick is too dirty, too vile, to not be exploited. Too, it is clear that the Conservatives themselves do not believe their own agenda, their own policies, in the rightness of their cause. If they did, the merits of Harper’s Conservatism should be enough to convince the majority of Canadians. It doesn’t. So, faith shaken, what can they do, these scoundrels? They can simply change the rules. And they have. For this group, chicanery comes easily.

With the passage of the so-called Fair Elections Act, supposedly to combat rampant voter fraud (a myth, a lie fuelled by Pierre Poilievre with his misrepresentation of the Neufeld Report on Electoral Reform) the Harper gang has effectively disenfranchised by some estimates, 100,000 to 500,000 voters. These include aboriginals, the poor, the homeless, the ill, the mentally ill, the elderly, those on welfare, and those with no fixed address, students, itinerant workers, and those relocating to other areas across the nation during election time. That’s a lot of people and mostly those on the bottom of the heap who would be least likely to vote Conservative.

Too, by next election, as stated earlier, there will be an additional 30 new ridings. With its penchant for rigging the game, gerrymandering of the boundaries will all but guarantee the Conservatives at least 22 new seats if voting patterns remain as is. However, as it is likely that the Conservatives are not as certain of voter support for their platform as they would wish, they are reluctant to test it without a little help.

Just to make certain that things are as easy as possible for a Conservative victory, Harper, with the assist of Pierre Poilievre, has reduced the powers of Elections Canada. While Elections Canada is still able to inform people where, when and what they need to have on them when they vote, it can no longer encourage voters to vote! Well, that leaves a few more voters Harper and gang don’t have to worry about.

As well, this gang has all but made it easier for those running for office to cheat. As if Conservatives haven’t tried in the past few elections with the in-out scam, with the robocalls scandals, with MPs such as Shelly Glover and James Bezan resisting calls from Elections Canada to submit full campaign claims. We even had Eve Adams attempting to palm off her spa treatments as expenses and Dean del Mastro facing the courts for fraudulent election expense claims. The Tories have greatly weakened the powers of Elections Canada. The agency, which is answerable to Parliament, will lose much of its powers to investigate election fraud. Those being investigated must be informed and must give permission before the public is informed. Too, witnesses who may know of fraud, cannot be compelled to testify. As well, and probably most offensive, the investigative arm of Elections Canada, the Commissioner of Canada Elections, has been moved to the Director of Public Prosecutions, which is accountable to the PMO. This is extremely important. This could, and would, likely lead to political interference especially with Harper at the helm. As well, the opportunity for corrupt outcomes would be enhanced with the prosecution also taking on the investigative role. It could decide what evidence to disclose or not. When this was pointed out by critics, the oily and sinister partisan, Poilievre, the Minister of Democratic Reform, suggested that the Chief Electoral Officer, Marc Mayrand, “only wanted more power’ for himself. That’s how Conservative under Harper work: they smear those who dare speak out against them. And if you are on the government payroll, they fire you or don’t rehire you. That’s what happened to Kevin Page. When there is little to no likelihood of discovery and punishment, there is every possibility of electoral fraud by those running for office.

Meanwhile, as the next election year approaches, the rat pack hunts out its enemies and picks them off one-by-one. Environmentalists are radicals and stooges for foreign interests. As if Canadians can’t think for themselves. Perhaps Harper and his gang arrived at that low opinion of others by using as benchmark the knowledge they possess of themselves and their supporters. Well, they know that crowd best, I guess.

BUT WHY SO MEAN TO SOME?

It is difficult to understand what it is that makes Harper and his gang as mean as they are. If they truly believe in their agenda and their methods of achieving them, why are they always on the offensive against their critics in ways that are, well, downright offensive, smack of arrogance, are based on ignorance and often dishonestly presented. Harper and his gang reveal a gross intolerance for questions from opposition members and even more aversion for answering them. Next time Parliament is in session, take the time to watch Question Period. One is left with the sad feeling that the Conservative gang are so wedded to the idea of power that they, themselves, have lost sight of what they offer and believe and can no longer give voice to them because those beliefs no longer exist or have become muddled with something else: winning, and at any cost.

I have little doubt they know that their approach of economy and job creation is too narrow and that its benefits, while there, are few, are not for the advantage of the whole of society but for the very few among the very privileged; for these few the benefits are many and rich indeed. For the rest, shiny promises and a few dollars in tax breaks perhaps and more in the way of public services cuts may be enough. But should it be? The envious are always with us. Unhappy with their lot, they are always willing to rip into public service workers and pull them down. And, of course, there are others to encourage them in their scapegoating. We have Tony Clement, president of the Treasury, feeding into that envy and hostility. He had no hesitation in throwing over 19,000 public workers out of work suggesting they are too many, are underworked and overpaid and altogether undeserving fat cat unionists. This is the man who milked from the public purse a $50 million slush fund for his riding during the 2010 G-8 and G-20 conferences less remembered for its accomplishments than the $1 million fake lake, the $250 thousand dollars gazebo and the mass arrests of peaceful protesters. Where is the outrage for all that?

It is easy to target those who can’t fight back. Harper and his gang are the schoolyard bullies; they appear to relish the role.

So, perhaps, the enemies Harper and gang see around them are real after all. It’s difficult to respect, let alone love, a government as abusive of others as this one with its relentless partisanship, its lack of fairness, its narrow vision and its inability to rise above its own desires to even consider the interests of all, including its enemies. The Harper crew offer little leeway. Unless promoting some pet project of their own, they avoid the media like the plague. After all, it is made up of “lickspittle elites”. And naturally, they do not trust educators, scientists and environmentalists unless they are stooges for Big Oil denying climate change or that humankind’s impact is real and devastating and on the edge of no turning back. How can you trust those biased anti-business, pro-NDP, ivory-towered intellectuals? Climate change, global warming? Rubbish. Just cyclical events that mankind has endured since the creation of the world three thousand years ago when man ran with dinosaurs. Ah! give me a break.

Thanks to Harper and his gang, 3,000 workers have been cut from the Canada Revenue Agency. They are out of work. As well as offering a $43 billion dollar free lunch to Big Business in tax breaks, the Harper gang appears eager to make it easier for corporations and wealthy individuals to set up offshore accounts to avoid paying taxes. The cuts in the CRA makes it more difficult, if not impossible, for the revenue agency to pursue and punish those cheats as well as recover the money owed the Canadian public. That is stolen money and there is little to no evidence that Harper and the gang are attempting to recover it. The tax evaders, along with Harper and crew, apparently agree with Leona Helmsley who infamously said: Only the little people pay taxes. In cutting those jobs, Harper and his gang give me the impression of abetting this criminal activity; they are the lookout while the gang inside pillage the bank. Experts estimate that Canadians are being cheated by more than $9 billion a year by scofflaw cheats. These are thieves. While Canadian taxpayers carry the burden, the wealthy, apparently believing themselves entitled, flout the law in the full knowledge that Harper is not able or unwilling to recover what we are owed. Instead, Harper and gang have other priorities. They have set out to put an end to what really riles them: charities. Not just any charity or all charities but only those of a perceived political slant: those charities that are critical of Harper and his government; those charities that believe in family planning, which may include abortion. You get the drift. Disagree with Harper’s worldview or offer an opinion with which he may disagree, you pay the price. Your patriotism is questioned. You’re branded as suspect. So, while over $9 billion are siphoned out of this country by knaves and thieves, charities are fighting for their survival as they are harassed with yearly audits. Now, some of those charities targeted have become so at the instigation of EthicalOil.org, the lobby group for Big Oil and the tarsands behind the Keystone XL pipeline project that has aroused so much interest from environmentalists and climatologists who have warned Harper and the gang about the risks involved in going ahead with it. Of course, EthicalOil.org, sanctimonious and hypocritical, so concerned with how our taxes are being spent will not, itself, reveal who its backers are except to state it only receives monies from Canadian companies. Personally, I am more interested in knowing if foreign interests own the Canadian companies and what benefits, if any, it obtains from taxpayers. Meanwhile, we must take them at their word that everything is above board while they smear others with innuendo.

Now, I am not saying there should no audits when taxpayers fund a charity. I do, however, expect that the audits be fair and applied to all political spectrums equally. But when the CRA becomes politicized, as it has under the Harper gang, targeting those on the left, one has to wonder, what is it that Harper and gang hope to accomplish? Of what are they afraid? Why would they punish the beneficiaries of the charitable work, those in desperate need, innocent victims, simply because the organization funds abortions, speaks out against some of Harper’s policies and legislation? That kind of behaviour is obscene from a government that purports itself as democratic. If it is silence that Harper seeks, it will not work; truth will always out ¾ eventually. What the public does learn, however, is that there is no limit to the smallness of the men and women in this regime. When one imagines they have sunk as low as humanly possible, they will sink lower. They wallow, apparently with great relish, in the shallow meanness of their collective character. As reported by Dean Beeby in the Ottawa Citizen (July 25, 2014), there is a word that the Harper gang and the CRA does not like in Oxfam’s stated goal which is to “prevent and relieve poverty, vulnerability and suffering by improving the conditions of individuals whose lives, livelihood, security or well-being are at risk.” The objectionable word is “prevent”. The CRA says, “…preventing poverty might benefit people who are not already poor.” This is insane. What does that mean? Picayune. Imbecilic. Arbitrary. Tax evaders are ripping off Canadians to the tune of over $9 billion a year and the government is threatening to remove the charitable status of an organization because of one word and save what…a couple of hundred thousand, a million or two? This is what our government deems more important than thieves ripping us off!

Well, intimidation worked with Oxfam; it removed the offending word. And you have to wonder why this government appears to be offended by the thought of wanting to rid or prevent the world of poverty. Perhaps, in doing so, it will be more difficult for employers to suppress wages because workers will no longer feel the need to undercut each other in competing for jobs. Is this to what Harper and his gang are reduced?

Minister of Revenue, Kerry-Lynne Findlay denies that the targeting of charities perceived to be on the left is politically motivated. Judge for yourself.

The David Suzuki Foundation, an outspoken advocate for the preservation of our environment and resources has also been listed. Well, Harper and gang don’t believe Global Warming is the real thing. The Foundation’s criticism of the Keystone XL pipeline project and Harper’s role has made it a target.

Amnesty International merits targeting because of its willingness to fight for the human rights of all who are incarcerated. In the past, it has been critical of the Harper regime’s treatment of Omar Khadr.

KAIROS, a United Church human rights advocacy group too has earned the ire of the Harper Gang. For many decades it received funding with the approval of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). Then, a few years back, Bev Oda, at that time overseer of the agency (until forced to resign in disgrace over padded expense claims and a $16 glass of orange juice), rescinded CIDA’s approval by inserting “NOT” to the document thereby committing forgery. For that act, she was not punished. What had KAIROS done? It had committed the crime of disagreeing with Harper’s unquestioning support of the Israelis over their heavy-handed treatment of the Palestinians. Look what’s happening today. Not a word of condemnation from Harper though the world, while supporting Israel’s right to defend itself, condemns the brutality of its responses to Hamas bombings.

Another target is the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA), which promotes research on economic and social policy issues. It’s easy to see why it is targeted. While it may look for economic and social alternatives, the Harper thugs clearly believe there are no alternatives to their economic plan. Rather than defend the Conservative plan, Harper finds it easier just to silence others.

Lastly, he has targeted PEN Canada, which promotes the right to free speech around the world. PEN had been critical of the Harper gang when it muzzled and fired government scientists. As stated earlier, it’s knowledge and the wisdom that comes with it that Harper fears. But, let’s give Harper some credit: He will defend with as much will as he can muster to fight for our right to agree with him.

These are not the only targets. Just a tip of the iceberg. Clearly what troubles Harper with these organizations is that all seem to be concerned with freedom and human rights. Now, what do you suppose Harper and his nasty crew have against freedom and human rights? Oh, yes, knowledge, wisdom.

THE KING OF KINGS – IN HIS OWN MIND

Vile, hypocritical, vicious, petty, mean, dishonest, conniving, sly and deceitful, this gang of lowlifes never feels in its element unless swimming in the slime of Conservative ideology. We have been witness to their behaviour when they smeared those taking the government to court over bad laws or bad appointments in an end run attempt to skirt the taws and democracy. They are not even above taking cheap shots against the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Beverley McLachlin accusing her of political interference during a search for a candidate for the Supreme Court. That turned out to be a lie. He and Peter MacKay, the Minister of Justice have yet to apologize to the Chief Justice, the Supreme Court and to the Canadian public. International jurists have called about Harper and MacKay to do the right thing. Neither will. They are not man enough, not decent enough to admit they were wrong and dishonest.

They are shameless and vile.

Just think of this: Thérèse Casgrain, a leading Quebec suffragette activist and first female to lead a political party had been honoured by Pierre Trudeau naming a national volunteer award after her, the Thérèse Casgrain Volunteer Award. If one followed her exploits, he would agree she deserved this recognition. Recently, we have learned that Stephen Harper has rebranded the award. It is now known as the Prime Minister’s Volunteer Award. How low can this man go? The Gazette Editor has it right: “Ignorant. Repugnant” (July 30, ’14). The rebranding occurred in 2010. We just learned of it this week. Think of that. This is Harper. You should not be surprised. Disgusted, yes, but not surprised. When I read about Casgrain and Harper’s dismissal of her, words written by Percy Bysshe Shelley came to mind: My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:/Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!

Refresh your memory, read the poem. With Harper, vanity and arrogance are no myth. He looks in the mirror and imagines he sees a general. It’s his fancy and it’s pure rubbish.

***

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 not safety. Benjamin Franklin

 

 

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THE SCUM ALSO RISES: STEPHEN HARPER, PARANOIA AND THE DEGRADATION OF POLITICS

 

There are some politicians who, if their constituents were cannibals, would promise them missionaries for dinner. – H.L. Mencken

When a man tells you he got rich through hard work, ask him whose? – Don Marquis

Fill the seats of justice with good men, but not so absolute in goodness as to forget what human frailty is. – Sir Thomas Talfourd

 Frank A. Pelaschuk

BOTTOM FEEDERS

There must have been a time when individuals entered politics with the goal of contributing to society, of making a meaningful contribution towards change and enlightenment: a better world for all if you will. The gratification, apparently, was derived from working in the service of others. That must have been once upon a time long, long ago in a far, distant land. Service to others. The politicians of today, hearing that, must laugh all the way to the bank. How touchingly naïve.

That is not to say every politico was honest, wasn’t self-serving, wasn’t greedy or hypocritical “in the good old days”; some of them could quite easily keep up with those politicians of today in chicanery, corruption and knavery. It just seems, and perhaps that’s all it is, a chimera of memory, that governing parties were not as shamelessly openly corrupt as those we have today nor were they as many. I cannot recall the days when almost every member of a governing party was as fiercely partisan, as wilfully ignorant, as indifferent to openness, integrity, truth, as deaf to and contemptuous of the voices of the people and the opposition and as hostile to Democracy as this Harper regime. Does anyone even remember the good ones, Stanley Knowles, Tommy Douglas, even hapless fumbler Robert Standfield, a good, decent man as far as I know even if a Conservative? Does anyone even care that there are very few like them today? We still have Joe Clark and Ed Broadbent, but they have, to all intents, left the political scene. Do they recognize their old parties? Would they be welcomed and warmly embraced or would they be quietly endured with impatient politeness and then hustled out the door?

Oh, yes, yes, there were knaves, there always is, but there was a time of courtesy, respect, and decorum in the House, a time when the Speaker commanded respect because it was believed by all sides that he or she could be trusted and impartial. Now we have a Speaker whose word and decisions cannot be trusted because he has shown himself untrustworthy and biased as when he sat on two letters from the Chief Electoral Officer, Marc Mayrand, for two weeks instead of informing the House, as he was duty bound, requesting that Shelly Glover and James Bezan be suspended from performing their duties until they made a full and accurate accounting of their expenses. There was a time when opposition members could frame questions from the top of their head and government members would respond in like fashion with no more than reference notes and with civility and a certain degree of frankness; today, questions and answers are scripted, the answers from the governing side never varying regardless of the question thrown at them. Asked the price of widgets, Harper, one of his oily ministers or some officious parliamentary secretary will stand up and say, “Glad you asked that. We reject your premise but will have a committee look into it.” If an opposition member were to immediately follow up with, “Is you mother a whore”, the response would be, without even a hint of a smile, “Glad you asked that. We reject your premise but will have a committee look into it.” Think I’m exaggerating? Watch Question Period when Parliament is in session. These are leaders of our nation. These are the folks we entrust to pass laws. Is this what we vote for?

This is not governance but a Punch and Judy show, a contemptible display of parties scoring points and settling scores on one side and a party clinging to power on the other convinced it is answerable to no one.

Thanks to Harper and his pea-brained gang, the days of questions and real answers are gone forever. Mean and petty, as small and ignoble as any group can possibly be, Harper and his crew have tossed aside the protocols of parliamentary dignity, transparency and inclusivity: obfuscation, circularity, outright lying, and sneering dismissals to any question posed are the order of the day. Opposition members are no longer viewed as legitimate representatives of the public; they are ignored, excluded, shut out of almost every important decision that, in previous regimes, would have had the governing party seeking and welcoming their input if only as a protective measure: everyone could be blamed. Not so with Harper and his hooligans.

SO, HOW BAD IS IT?

Last year, in an event honouring the contributions of volunteers across the country, one that most sane people would believe a non-partisan event, the ever-small Harper and his gang “uninvited” members of the opposition previously included because members of their community were being honoured for their work. Now that is small.

In January of this year, Harper traveled to Israel with a large entourage in tow, many at taxpayers’ expense. Touted as a business junket, it was also a photo-op for Harper where he loudly declared his friendship for the Jewish State. In the past, it was common for members from all parties to be invited. Well, Harper’s one of a kind when it comes to petty partisanship behaviour. No NDP or Liberal members were invited. Too, needy Conservative Mark Adler (remember the “million dollar” shot with Harper and Israeli leaders he was denied?), co-host of an Israeli charity event, barred Liberal MP Irwin Cotler from attending it. Cotler was there on another matter on his own dime; he is widely respected in the Jewish community and renowned as an expert on international law and human rights. Yet Adler, in a fashion typical of the Tory regime, could not resist in publicly humiliating a man simply because he was a Liberal MP. This is small stuff, extremely petty and mean but it paints a significant and disturbing picture of Harper and his sorry gang that is ugly, blindly partisan, and certainly not representative of a respectful, tolerant government.

These are just a few examples of many of the degree of disrespect Harper holds for those who oppose him. It is also a clear demonstration of the fear and cowardice of a governing power that, even with its majority, must feel compelled to pulverize and humiliate opposition parties who are presently incapable of even posing a threat to their reign of error. This is an example of raw power abused. The message is clear: those who oppose Harper and gang are subject to the full fury of their thuggery; they include personal ad hominem attacks which may end with your reputation smeared, your integrity questioned, your credentials dismissed and trashed and your patriotism challenged. Too often, we have heard members of this odious group label others “radical”, “stooge” “hack”; these are almost gentle lashings compared to what Pat Stogran, Linda Keen, Richard Colvin, Kevin Page, Marc Mayrand, and even one of their own, Helena Guergis, have been subjected. My sympathy for Guergis, I must admit, is muted somewhat; until she found herself out with Harper, she was just as nasty as the worst on the Conservative team.

And we saw how vicious and careless when, with disregard for facts, they chose to publicly single out Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin after the Supreme Court unanimously agreed that Justice Marc Nadon, Harper’s choice for a seat in the highest court of the land, did not meet the requirements for the position. Ignoring many warnings from experts informing Harper that Nadon failed to meet the necessary requirements, Harper nevertheless persisted in pushing for Nadon. Furious with the outcome, Harper and MacKay responded as any worthy bully or child might: both threw a public tantrum and opted to impugn the integrity of Chief Justice McLachlin and the Court. It’s worth noting that Harper had appointed five of the eight judges presently sitting in the Court. He hopes to add another. Harper’s hostility for the Court has been longstanding and overt. It is too “liberal”, tends to favour criminals, it is an “activist” court, i.e., has an anti-Conservative bias. Well, that’s what he would have us believe. It was clear he wants to stack the Supreme Court with likeminded individuals. Apparently, with the Nadon decision, the judges were swayed more by the sanctity of the law than loyalty to an ideology or to the man who gave them the job. That’s as it should be.

This is not the first time things did not go Harper’s way. The government lost the decision when it sought the opinion of the Supreme Court as to whether it could unilaterally change how senators were elected, set term limits which would openly politicize them, or abolish the Senate outright. Instead of picking up their toys and licking their wounds, as any adult would, Harper and MacKay chose to attack the Court and the Chief Justice whom they apparently view as emblematic of all the things they believe wrong with an independent Court: it is not Harper Conservative enough! As far as Harper and gang are concerned, the high court, in failing to reach a decision with which Harper agreed, was a biased Court, which favoured criminals and, I would suspect, dissenters who are probably terrorists or riffraff in the Conservative world. Another shining example of the “if you ain’t for us, you’re against us” mentality that fuels this miserable gang.

But unhappiness with the decision was not enough for Harper; that impish rascal just could not stop his bullying ways. He proceeded to charge that Chief Justice McLachlin had improperly approached him in July of 2013. Clearly, we are meant to take from this the suggestion that Chief Justice McLachlin had been opposed to the Justice Nadon appointment from the onset simply because he was Harper’s choice. In making the accusation, he was also suggesting that he, he alone, had attempted to preserve the sanctity of the Supreme Court by rejecting the advances made by her. It was an extraordinary charge clearly meant to inflame public prejudice against the Court with its suggestion of bias and political interference. As if that wasn’t cheap and low enough, Harper and MacKay deliberately left out information in the charming tale clearly intent on misleading the public. Their version was made of half-truths, which makes it untrue. Key elements were missing. For one, the parliamentary committee looking into the selection of candidates for the Supreme Court had been the ones who approached McLachlin for advice on vetting the candidates. That is normal, in fact, is expected. She did, however, admit to warning the Harper gang of potential eligibility issues. As did other experts. But McLachlin had issued that warning months before the issue was brought to court and at least a month before Harper’s choice of Nadon was named. Harper, as defender of the people from the law, became Bozo the Clown shot down in flames.

Evidently, these folks can’t help themselves; charge and attack and the truth be damned. For both Harper and Peter MacKay, this must be a new low of countless lows. This is gutter politics and a far cry from the political interference suggested by Harper and MacKay. To no one’s surprise, but everyone’s dismay, neither McKay nor Harper bothered to clear the air with the facts or the timeline. Certainly there was no apology from either bottom feeder. Crude, rude, and unacceptable.

This is extremely vile behaviour from a governing party towards the highest court in the land. It is serious, malignant – deliberate. Evidently Harper believes that attacking the high court might enhance his reputation among his followers who still believe man walked with dinosaurs and that the world is six thousand years old. For the troglodytes, such behaviour may be acceptable and expected, but it will likely garner little sympathy from the public at large. I know whom I trust in this tawdry tale.

THEY NEVER GIVE UP

Naturally, it doesn’t end there with these two. Last week, the Harper crew appointed Federal Court of Appeal Justice Rober Mainville to Quebec’s highest court with MacKay saying he would be “welcome at the Supreme Court”. Constitutional lawyer Rocco Galati, who had successfully challenged the Nadon appointment, is again challenging the Harper appointment saying the Constitution clearly states judges on the Quebec court must be appointed by the Quebec bar. Other critics believe this just another Harper/MacKay end run to avoid appointing a qualified Quebec judge. If so, what does Harper fear from Quebec justices? “What had they done to upset Harper,” asked panel member Martin Patriquin in his appearance on CBC’s Power and Politics. Are Quebec judges considered too progressive for Harper’s Conservatives? Or is this retaliation against a province that did not elect enough Conservatives? Either way, petty.

But what should frighten and truly offend the public at large, especially if it believes the courts should be above the political fray, is not so much Harper’s blatant disregard for the sanctity of the Supreme Court, but his willingness to publicly declare his desire to politicize the judiciary to achieve desired outcomes. If the five Harper appointees to the Supreme Court might have ever harboured sympathy for some of his policies in the past, they might have little reason for feeling such now. Harper and MacKay have demonstrated the extent they are willing to embellish, omit and distort to achieve their goals. Their behaviour is discreditable, reprehensible, and just plain dishonest.

But that is not unusual behaviour from these two. MacKay had years ago proved he was untrustworthy when he betrayed David Orchard and the Progressives in the Progressive Conservatives by joining forces with the Alliance Party and Stephen Harper in 2003. To this day, despite proving himself nasty, untruthful, and incompetent in every post he has been offered, MacKay continues to hold a key position in the Harper gang solely because of his role in the formation of the Conservative/Reform/Alliance Party of today, CRAP in other words. For his part, MacKay is quite willing to capitalize on this. He’s incompetent, not stupid. Well…

Look at how he and Harper, having set their sights on the F -35 jets, lied and obfuscated during the 2011 election campaign about the true costs of the jets. They claimed the jets would only cost $9 billion. Experts were sceptical. When Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page questioned the numbers and requested to see the documentation, he was not only stonewalled at every turn, Harper and his rat pack began to wage a vicious campaign against him smearing his name, questioning his credentials, character and integrity. Does this sound familiar? When Page’s term ran out, he was not kept on and the public was no closer to the truth. We now know the jets will cost at least $45 billion though some have pegged the number closer to $126 billion. Canadians don’t really know what the final number will be; that is unacceptable. The Harper gang has lied and smeared their way to victory apparently untroubled that taxpayers will be left to pay a hefty bill of unknown size because of its unwillingness to admit to mistakes, to being wrong, or to even conceding that the planes may not be what we need.

Even today, with the release of a new study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives entitled One Dead Pilot, which suggests that the F-35 single-engine jets are not only costly, but also dangerous and unreliable, because it denies pilots the possibility of a backup engine should anything go wrong, Harper and gang are unmoved and determined to go through with the deal. Michael Byers, UBC political scientist, author of the report, as quoted in the National Post by Josh Visser, June 9th, notes, “…a second engine is the only thing that can prevent a crash. The issue is especially important for Canada, which has the longest coastline in the world and vast Arctic territories.” Regardless of cost, lack of transparency, and closed bidding, it appears Harper is set to go ahead with the purchase, playing loose with the lives of pilots. Well, can we claim to be surprised? We know how much they respect our vets and public servants; why should they behave any differently towards those who will fly those planes? A final decision appears to be near. Regardless of what it is, we know they can’t be trusted.

THE FAMILY CIRCUS

Sometimes one gets the uneasy feeling that the so-called Fair Elections Act, as with so many of their efforts, so clearly botched, had been introduced solely for the perverse joy the Harper Conservatives experience in observing the response from poking the contemptuous Conservative finger into the collective eye of both public and critics. It has passed third reading and will soon become law the loud chorus of opposition ignored and dismissed. The heedless contempt and faux surprise exhibited by Pierre Poilievre, that viciously partisan Minister of Democratic Reform and Harper’s go-to man when it comes to dirty fighting, and the smug self-congratulatory hypocritical huzzahs that greeted the outcome from that quarter, was overt and painful to observe; these are despotic personalities taking sadistic delight in the despair of the howling voices railing against the bill’s inherent unfairness many consider a direct assault on Democracy. The outcome was no more in doubt than Poilievre’s dismissal of all such concerns as alarmist fear-mongering. He has resolutely campaigned to pass the bill as is with only token consultation or consideration of advice from opposition members as is customary and he pointedly ignored all other voices including experts in constitutional Democracy. Cherry picking “facts” that suited his purpose, Poilievre, often quoting and misquoting from a report by Harry Neufeld, past Chief Electoral Officer for British Columbia, suggested the changes were essential to stop voter fraud. In that claim was also the suggestion that voter fraud was widespread and perpetrated by a certain segment of society. When asked for proof of fraud, he could offer none because there was none. In fact, the only fraud perpetrated has been by Conservatives, how they reported on the bill and the methods employed to bolster support including their deliberate misreading of the Neufeld report. Can anyone who saw it forget Conservative Brad Butt’s contemptible little charade in the House? He regaled a spellbound Conservative audience (surely no one else was duped) with a tale of witnessing with his own two beady eyes opposition campaign workers scooping up voter information cards discarded by recipients which were then used by other opposition supporters passing themselves off as those voters named on the card. He had no answer for why he did not report it then. Later, in the House, he admitted he had lied, it hadn’t happened. Now, that is fraud. And, of course, we all recall how the Conservative Party paid $52000 for its role in the 2006 “in-out” campaign scheme for exceeding election expenses. And we mustn’t forget bulldog Conservative Dean del Mastro, that loudmouth thug who, along with Pierre Poilievre, waged a vicious smear campaign against Elections Canada and Marc Mayrand, Chief Electoral Officer, for having the nerve to investigate the Conservatives for allegations of voter suppression. Del Mastro, pleading not guilty, now faces several charges for election fraud during his 2008 campaign. These are not nice people.

So what is it about C-23 that has so many experts and ordinary citizens troubled? Simply by getting rid of as ID the Voter Information Cards we all receive in the mail, some estimate that 100,000 voters could be disenfranchised with the passage of this bill. Others have pegged the number to be as high as 500,000. One is too many. Those are large numbers and these will include our native peoples, seniors, students, transient workers, the poor, the homeless, the disabled, and the mentally ill. In other words, those least likely to vote Conservative. That is no accident.

But C-23 doesn’t stop there. The Commissioner for Canada Elections, the investigative body of Elections Canada, which reports to Parliament, has been moved to the Department of Public Prosecutors, which reports to the government. There is a difference and it is significant. With Harper at the helm, the potential for political interference is not a possibility but a certainty. Poilievre, without his trusty sidekick, evidently has a few more scores to settle with Elections Canada.

Bill C-23 also considerably weakens the powers of Elections Canada to investigate election fraud, enforce regulations, and denies it the right to compel witnesses to testify. Too, those under investigation must be informed that they are being investigated. As well, their permission must be sought before such investigations can be made public. In other words, Harper and gang have determined that the public has no right to know when the rules are broken or by whom unless the offenders volunteer the information. There is absolutely no incentive for those who are naturally dishonest to be honest during election campaigns because the likelihood of discovery and punishment is almost nil. And while Elections Canada can inform people when and where to vote, it can no longer encourage them to vote. Again this targets large segments of society, the same folks victimized by the changes to vouching rules.

The Conservatives did retreat on some items. They tried to bypass spending limits by exempting telemarketing calls to anyone who donated more than $20 in the previous five years. This was a loophole that would benefit the richest party (guess which one) with the most number of donors by increasing the amount it is allowed to spend without having to claim it as an expense. As well, they retreated on the matter of incumbents determining who the polling station supervisor would be. Had this been allowed to stand, one can imagine that all disputes brought before the incumbent’s choice could only have one result.

The Conservatives, never shy about rigging the game in their favour, have now, in fact, entrenched bad behaviour into law with C-23. No doubt, with their past experiences and proclivities the party will take full advantage of these limitations.

Who can honestly claim to be surprised? All too often Harper and his crew have demonstrated that, when it comes to abuses of Democracy and unseemly behaviour, they couldn’t care less what we may think. It is not enough to win the game, they have to rig it and they have.

It’s not just the fixing of the game or the meanness of the Conservatives that offends, though I do detest them for that; it’s the smallness of their characters, the limitations of their vision, the selfishness of their goals, the blindness of their ideology, the aridness of their souls. If they use the word inclusive, wanting us to believe that is what they are and what they wish to be, they will stumble over it, perhaps even mask a smile with a hand. It’s a word they drag out for election campaigns or when attempting to convince us that what we might believe of them isn’t true. That they stumble always diminishes the message; it is foreign to them, the word difficult to get the tongue around. Besides, they don’t mean it. They see too many enemies in every dissenting sign and give the impression of believing the poor and helpless lesser beings. Workers employed at menial jobs are to be exploited, diminished, kept in their place; it’s good for business; those who dare speak out, those ungrateful sods, those who actually might believe they deserve more and better find their jobs auctioned off to foreign workers who are less likely to demand more and better than their Canadian counterparts whom they replace. Canadian workers are sacrificed to a life of drudgery as opportunities in trade schools and further education are closed to them. The have-nots have even less and the haves much, much more. Big Business, aided and abetted by an anti-union, anti-worker government, no longer need train workers, they can be found elsewhere. And that’s the problem and the threat facing low-income earners: a lifetime of nowhere and nothingness. For that, they can thank the likes of Jason Kenney and the Harper gang and those profiteering exploiters in the service industries.

To hear the lords and masters of industry, Canadian workers act too Canadian. I recall, I don’t remember where, reading that employers love foreign workers because they don’t act Canadian. By that was meant they worked harder, work longer hours, kept their mouths shut, didn’t make waves, didn’t complain, and didn’t dare believe that they deserved more and better. In other words, foreign workers are pliable, flexible, submissive and exploitable. If not, if they dare get uppity, there is always the threat of shipping them home. For the foreign worker, and he is not the enemy, the choice is stark: slavery in Canada or in their homeland Though employers and the Harper gang will deny it, all this is in aid of suppressing wages of low-income earners and even of those in the trades. Speak out there are others willing to step in. Of course, it’s not necessary to speak out in some instances. Not if you are Canadian. Many of us may remember the episode of RBC workers training foreign workers to take their jobs overseas. And we all know of Sandy Nelson and Shaunna Jennison-Yung, the two long-time service workers in a Weyburn Saskatchewan restaurant, who were fired due to “restructuring” and replaced by the very workers they had trained. Restructuring. That’s jargon, employers taking advantage of a government program to exploit foreign workers at the cost of Canadian jobs to maximize profits. With business, loyalty is apparently a one-way street.

And, as always happens when these things occur, business and the Harper stooges loudly condemn the abuses and promise a harsh response. And, as always, nothing happens. Jason Kenney (notable for using government letterheads to fundraise for the Conservative Party, for which he received a warning slap on the wrist), Minister of Employment and Social Development, a vocal supporter of the Temporary Foreign Workers Program, a true free enterpriser, has so far, failed to take any significant action against the exploiters. It’s business as usual.

The lords and loudmouths of free enterprise, and that includes every member of Harper and his gang, always demand more of others than from themselves and the Temporary Foreign Workers Program appears to be one of the results, Canadian workers sacrificed on the altar of profit.

Originally created to help business find skilled workers not found among Canadian workers, it has been expanded and degraded to include even low skill, low paying, jobs. Employers love it. But its abuses and excesses are well documented. The program must be ended. Now.

Jason Kenney and the Harper gang have a lot to answer for. This regime has not just abandoned the Canadian worker it has betrayed him. It is also betrayed those foreign workers who have done nothing wrong except seek better lives for themselves and their loved ones. A free market mentality that encourages the exploitation and degradation of workers around the globe, feeding off their fears and desperation at any cost, including putting lives and limbs at risk, is a product of a bygone era and must be exterminated.

SO WHY IS NO ONE LAUGHING?

How troubled should Canadians be with a government that talks obsessively of jobs and the economy and yet seems as obsessed with spying on Canadians? What do they fear? What are they looking for? We know that they have little tolerance for those who step on their toes, but do they really believe the Supreme Court is their enemy or that those vocal opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline are threats. Does the Harper crew, notwithstanding its majority, fear the electorate so much and doubt its own platform that it feels compelled to pass new bills that rig elections in their favour? Is every differing voice the voice of the enemy, someone out to get them? Sadly, the answer appears to be yes.

On June 13th of this year, the Supreme Court of Canada gave Harper another reason to whine and smear. On a criminal matter appearing before it, the court had rendered a unanimous verdict on internet spying saying that police cannot get information on internet users from service providers without first obtaining a warrant. This is extremely significant because it places in jeopardy Bill C-13, the “cyberbullying” bill, introduced last November by Peter MacKay. The Court agreed that everyone had a reasonable expectation of privacy and the right to not fall victim of unreasonable search and seizure.

The bill, which critics do say does address the issue of cyberbullying in the first few pages, appears to go much further than its stated goals and seems more interested in gaining access to user information from service providers without warrants and protecting those providers from repercussions when they voluntarily hand over information to law enforcement agents. This bill allows Harper to share data collected on Canadians with the US and, presumably, any country it deems friendly. This is clearly about more than sexual predators though the Harper and MacKay would have us believe otherwise. It’s about looking for enemies, real and imagined in every charity, political organization and individual expressing a hostile thought regarding Harper and his prolonged war against the citizenry and democratic principles.

This is not new for Harper. In the past, Vic Toews, another of their ilk and one time justice and public safety minister, attempted something similar. As today, there were howls of outrage and Toews, good Conservative that he was, opted for the smear of vitriol over a dab of peacemaking honey by charging all critics of siding with pornographers. Nice. He now sits as a judge of the Court of Queen’s Bench of Manitoba.

Opposition members and legal experts have said C-13 will not pass as is and that it should be split into two: an anti-bullying bill and what, an all purpose spying bill? Of course, what could the Harper gang do but ignore the recommendations. It made sense. Besides, doing as the critics suggested might deny Harper the opportunity of another excuse to malign the Supreme Court. The new Privacy Commissioner, Daniel Therrien, appointed without consultation by Harper and protested by the opposition because they believed him not to have the “detachment” necessary for the job, i.e., he might be biased towards the Harper gang, surprised everyone, no doubt Harper most of all, when he agreed the bill should be split in two. In an appearance before a Conservative dominated committee, he warned that law agencies would be given too broad a power to investigate Canadians on mere suspicion and that C-13 gave immunity to providers who spied on users and voluntarily gave data to law enforcement. The Conservative members of the committee, not surprisingly, turned on him, their own appointee, as they are wont to do with anyone who doesn’t behave as they wish.

Will the recent Supreme Court decision cause MacKay and the rest of the gang to reconsider the bill? Don’t count on it. This was another defeat for Harper and gang and it is very unlikely he will be in an accommodating mood. Poor baby Harper. Like all spoiled children, he will likely keep on trying until he either beats the Supreme Court Justices into submission or the public decides it’s had enough of him.

SO WHAT ARE THEY DRINKING?

Yes, they are stubborn folk those Harper louts full of the certitude of their righteous virtue, superior vision and the sanctity of their goals. What reason is there to heed the voices of others when they, the Conservatives, are whole and perfect in thought, word and deed?

Then we have Chris Alexander to help us rethink that. Not too long ago, he, along with Michelle Rempel, Candice Bergen, Kellie Leitch and the nasty Poilievre, was part of a cadre of Conservative bobbleheads appearing on various news programs reciting the Harper message of the day. They weren’t much then and they aren’t much now, all promoted and confirming the Peter Principle. Alexander is the citizen and immigration minister. In the past, he gave the impression of amiability, the least offensive of Rempel, Bergen, Leitch, but, with his elevation to minister, all that is gone. He has become angry and shrill and altogether unpleasant. I never did like the scripted Conservative messages he offered, the obfuscations and outright lies, but now I find him as offensive as the rest though, I must admit, Poilievre still beats him and the rest but only by a hair.

Bill C-24, Alexander’s baby, would strip away the citizenship of dual nationals accused of membership to an outlawed organization or “convicted of terrorism, high treason, or spying offences.” Rocco Galati, that Constitutional gnat to Harper, has moved to challenge the bill. What did Alexander do? He did what Harper Conservatives always do: began to smear Galati on CBC’s Power and Politics, June 10, saying, Galati “…also defended, a senior member, the patriarch of the Khadr family, who was a senior member of al-Qaeda.” The inference was clear: because Galati defended someone the Harper gang (and perhaps most Canadians) did not like, the lawyer was suspect as well. We’ve seen this before.

That’s nasty enough. The proposed bill is even worse and its effect is so far-reaching, it could affect all Canadians and those applying for citizenship. Any Canadian citizen, Canadian born or not, can now be arbitrarily stripped of their citizenship. Those seeking to become citizens will have a more difficult time of it and the cost to apply will triple. Immigration officers will replace judges with the power to revoke citizenship. Too, those threatened with revocation of citizenship will no longer have the right to an oral hearing before a judge. In fact, there need not be a formal hearing. As well, the ability to appeal a revocation has been removed. Residency requirements will be increased; time already spent in Canada before the application for residency is made will not be counted. This is not the behaviour of a sane, civil, democratic government. Instead, it’s a clear signal of a government deeply, deeply, troubled. The Harper regime trusts no one, is fearful of everyone and suffers no qualms in abusing the rights of all it deems unsuitable and undeserving of Canada’s generosity. I though Alexander was better than that. Clearly I was wrong. The bill is as morally bankrupt and flawed as Harper and his gang.

Doubtless Alexander’s comments of Galati are reflective of a regime still furious and smarting by the judgement Galati had won that cost Harper Nadon. During a June 11th appearance on CBC’s As It Happens, Alexander, perhaps feeling embattled by the aggressive questioning by Carol Off about Syrian refugees and how many of the them, government sponsored, had arrived in Canada, appeared to have lost his cool when pressed about the number. He abruptly hung up claiming he had to get back to the House for Question Period. Later, he would whine that As It Happens had been “unfair” and “unprofessional” in not explaining why he had hung up. They had, but Alexander’s response of shoot first and blame others rather than own up to the fact that his poor showing gave the impression of a minister behaving evasively to tough, legitimate questioning as well as having a meltdown. This, too, is typical of the regime. Harper and gang are quick and eager to ride roughshod over others when it suits them and are even quicker and more eager to whine about unfair treatment and a biased media when challenged. Another example of the if you ain’t for them, you must be against them mentality. With a mindset like that, Canadians have every reason to be suspicious of bills C-13, C-23, and C-24 and the Harper agenda. These are the kinds of legislation a paranoiac might propose. Certainly, if passed, these bills could imperil many of the rights, including assembly, fair comment, and criticism, Canadians take for granted. This relentless erosion of Democracy is the kind of behaviour one would expect from a third world dictatorship. For how much longer will Canadians remain silent before they let it be known they’ve had enough? Poor Harper. Poor baby Alexander.

With this gang, perhaps like this article, it never ends. We have Peter MacKay, again, this time proposing new anti-prostitution laws that prostitutes, lawyers, police and almost everyone else agrees are punitive and very likely to put street workers at even greater risk including risk of death. Based on the so-called “Nordic Model”, Bill C-36 targets and criminalizes buyers primarily and prostitutes who solicit trade anywhere underage children might be “reasonably” expected to be. Come on. When’s the last time you saw prostitutes soliciting before a school or in a mall? The bill is ridiculous in its expectations, unworkable and inherently wrong. The Tory majority will ram the bill through and, as they have so often, ignore legal experts, critics, opposition members, and those very workers they claim to seek to protect. And, as have other bills, almost all inadequately vetted by legal experts, if even vetted, C-36 will meet a similar fate when brought before the courts. It will be tossed offering Harper another opportunity to claim he was mugged by an “activist” court.

Recently, we had Harper announcing Canada’s gift of $3.5 billion to promote the health and care of mothers and children of the less developed world. Maybe this is what Harper would have as his legacy as he prepares to leave office, if not before the next election, surely shortly after.

But even this worthwhile goal, helping the impoverished in other areas achieve a better, healthier life, he cannot help but taint in his own inimitable way. The exact nature of the funding was not made clear and critics were quick to note that there appears to be no room for family planning when it is estimated that over 47,000 women die because of unsafe abortions. For Harper, ideology trumps the lives of the impoverished. Canada’s gift is great publicity as a caring nation, but it’s marred by Harper’s inserting of his own anti-abortion stance. And while it may enhance Harper’s image abroad, and Canada’s by extension, how will this impress the folks at home, when some First Nations communities haven’t had potable water for decades, yes, decades, where suicides rates among natives are at unconscionable levels, and where most of the homes are poorly insulated and have no running water. What about the homeless and ill on our streets? By all means, those folks in less developed areas must be helped and we should do what we can and must. But it must not be just about photo-ops and positive publicity on the world stage and certainly not at the expense of those at home.

But at that summit in Toronto, Harper also addressed another issue. In this he expressed his befuddlement that people in the developed world still refuse to get vaccinated. Said he, and with a straight face, “It’s hard for me not to get very emotional about this because we know, we scientifically know, what vaccinations and immunizations have done for us, personally, in our generation and generations after us. I frankly don’t understand people who are walking away in our society from something that’s proven to work” (CBC, Trinh Theressa Do, May 29th). Did you catch that? Harper said, “scientifically know”.

This is the fellow whose government has muzzled and fired scientists for speaking out. This is the fellow whose government, so obsessed with pushing the Keystone XL pipeline, has denied the possibility of Climate Change. This against the overwhelming evidence that it is real and the threat it poses is real! This is the fellow whose minister of natural resources at the time, Joe Oliver, loudly dismissed and dissed world famous climatologist James Hansen questioning the scientist’s reputation and fairness. Science and Harper? When it suits his purpose, Harper will swing on a dime. Otherwise, he hears no one, listens to no one: the experts are wrong and only Harper and the gang know the answers. And, while I agree with him regarding vaccinations, I had to laugh at his hypocrisy. But it’s not funny that Harper can turn his back on what most of us “scientifically know”: good maternal health care also includes family planning; 47,000 lives should not be tossed aside because world leaders refused to acknowledge abortions are a fact of life in all parts of the world. Why not make them safe? You don’t have to support abortion; just allow women a choice.

Speaking of choice, this evening, June 17, as I write this, the Harper gang announced that the Northern Gateway Project had been approved. No choice for those against it. Unusually for Harper and his gang, not a single Conservative could be found to take questions from the media. Were they hiding? Too, Justin Trudeau pointed out something I had not caught. Harper has always branded his reign of terror and error as “the Harper government” which about says it all about its priorities. It’s never been about Canada or Canadians but about Harper and special interests. All decisions made, and they are always good, wise, and loved by every Canadian citizen, even if rammed down our throats, have been made, Conservatives are quick and proud to inform us, by the “Harper government”. Not this evening. Trudeau noted that it was not the “Harper government” that had approved the Enbridge pipeline deal but the “Canadian Government”. Could it be Harper is worried?

Immediately, all opposition leaders spoke out against the deal and vowed to scrap it if they became the governing party. First Nations spokesman along the route from the Alberta tar sands to Kitimat, B.C. vowed to defeat the project. There are five court cases pending. Three quarters of British Columbians reject the deal believing the risk too great and the huge tourist industry at risk. And it is. The pipeline would pass through pristine wilderness lands and rugged, treacherous terrain. The effects of ruptured pipes and spillage would be immediate, widespread and long lasting. Over two hundred tankers a year would travel through difficult coastal water channels endangering all marine habitat including polluting the navigable routes of Pacific grey whales, orcas, humpbacks and other marine life accounting for much of the tourism. That a majority of British Columbians and almost all First Nations people are against the deal makes no never mind. This is about Harper’s agenda: jobs, the economy, and, of course, the health and welfare of Corporate interests. In a recent speech, Harper suggested he would not sacrifice one job for the protection of the environment or to stave off climate change. Said he: “It’s not that we don’t seek to deal with climate change. But we seek to deal with it in a way that will protect and enhance our ability to create jobs and growth, not destroy jobs and growth in our countries. And frankly, every single country in the world, this is their position.

“No matter what they say, no country is going to take actions that are going to deliberately destroy jobs and growth in their country. We are just a little more frank about that, but that is the approach that every country is seeking” (from The Sidney Morning Herald, Crispin Hull, June 12, 2014).

That about says it all about Harper and his gang.

IT IS TIME FOR THE CREAM

What I have outlined is not a picture I have painted. Rather it is Harper’s work. It is vile, ugly and corrupt.

Standing up to Harper and his crew can be a hazardous business; it can leave your reputation in tatters, your patriotism questioned, your privacy invaded, your trust violated.

The Harper gang believe themselves misunderstood. They believe every sceptical voice raised against them is the voice of the enemy. They believe the public ignorant and uniformed. For that, they blame the media, the scholars and scientists, the Supreme Court justices, and you and I if we oppose them. So Harper and gang use loopholes to make it difficult if not impossible to apply successfully to access to information. By the time some do get the information, it is often too late and useless because of the passage of time or because so heavily redacted. Even though this is, in theory, our government and the Harper gang our employees, they act as if we are nuisances and prefer that we remain uninformed and ignorant. Harper and his gang obstruct at every opportunity and, because they are fearful and suspicious, treat us all as threats. And, because they see us as threats, they would spy on us behind bills meant to catch cyberbullies and pedophiles. The Harper gang is afraid of frank, open, and honest discussion. They pass legislation that is hidden, disguised, undiscoverable until too late and condemn those who demand a full accounting of those laws including full disclosure. They are impossible to shame because they know no morality except self-interest, economic interest, and the grasping and keeping of power. The Harper gang appears to speak with one voice with one thought. One looks at them and finds it almost impossible to differentiate one pig from another in a litter wallowing in the filth. They hear no one, listen to no one, accept no advice, least of all from “experts” and “scientists” and “scholars” for whom they hold the utmost contempt unless those same “experts”, “scientists”, and “scholars” just happen to hold the same concerns and narrow values as the Harper Conservatives.

And because it is Harper and his gang, they set up to rig the game and invalidate your vote and silence your voice. They have the majority. Don’t like it? Too bad.

Are these folks really offering you what you voted for? Do they really stand for what you believe and desire? Does honesty, integrity, decency, fairness, justice, humility, kindness, openness, transparency, democracy, dignity mean anything to you? If not, you really do belong with Harper and his thugs.

 ***

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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