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STEPHEN HARPER: THE PAPER LION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

STEPHEN HARPER, THE VINDICTIVE NEANDERTHAL

How many people eat, drink, and get married; buy, sell, and build; make contracts and attend to their fortune; have friends and enemies, pleasures and pains, are born, grow up, live and die ― but asleep! – Joseph Joubert

Frank A. Pelaschuk

STEPHEN HARPER SUFFERS A BLOW BY REASON

Occasionally, those in politics can surprise you in the most unexpected of ways: against all expectations and all hope, they do the right thing. When that happens, and it rarely does these days, one inhales deeply and wonders how, why, can it happen again, will it happen again.

June 26, 2013, was such a day. On that day, twenty-two Tory senators surprised the nation and clearly poked the malignant eye of Stephen Harper and his sorry crowd of scoundrels. Sixteen senators, led by Hugh Segal, voted with the Liberals to block the odious anti-union bill, Bill C-477, which had passed in the House last December and was now having it sent back. In abstaining, six Tories made the defeat a certainty. It was a stunning setback for Harper, a remarkable event especially from a legislative body that has, since Harper and thugs achieved their majority, routinely and with markedly little reflection, approved most, if not every, piece of Conservative legislation passed in the House, many as questionable and some as odious as C-377. Evidently, even for certain stalwarts who are unquestioningly loyal and partisan, there are just some things that are too much, too unreasonable, too patently unfair to be endured.

Whatever their motives (I do hope personal integrity and a desire for fairness played a bigger role than concern over the constitutionality of the legislation), C-377 was blocked and sent back with amendments. It was a good day for the Democracy. It was a good day for the Senate. And it was a good day for people who have found themselves vindicated in the Quixotic belief that people (politicians!), are capable of holding, and acting on, principles. More sceptical, I admit to being pleasantly surprised; when it comes to Conservatives, I always expect the worst and am seldom disappointed.

Undoubtedly, those opposing Tory senators considered the bill unfair and an invasion of privacy. They are right, but it is more. It is a mean-spirited unjust scapegoating attack against workers and to their right of association solely designed to satisfy Harper’s anti-union agenda of placating his corporate masters by making things as difficult and onerous on the union movement as possible. The bill is harassment pure and simple, crafted by Harper and his despicable group to force unions to publicly do what they already do for their members, which is to disclose the costs of all salaries, benefits and expenses of their employees, including those towards political and lobbying efforts. Taxpayers do not fund unions; they do not pay the salaries and benefits of union employees and, because they do not, are not entitled to have access to union books. C-377 says otherwise. Anyone with a sense of fair play, even if a modicum, would acknowledge this as heavy-handed and prejudicial legislation, a purely parochial attack against unions and unionized workers demanding of them what Conservatives do not demand of their corporate friends and other organizations.

Those twenty-two Tory senators must be commended for voting and abstaining as they did, whatever their motives. Defying Harper often results in brutal reprisal for offenders. That takes a certain amount of courage, for this is a regime of bullies and plain, old-fashioned thuggery. Bill C-377 is unambiguously unfair and discriminatory. But Harper’s Conservatives, as we well know, have never been about fairness any more than they have been about ethics and integrity; for this loathsome group, those concepts are for mugs.

Doubtless enraged, Harper and his gang immediately vowed to reintroduce the bill as is; no one is going to thwart them if they have their way. That attitude, petty, vindictive, and just plain malicious, is hardly surprising and totally in character for this group of amoral narcissists who actually act as if they have swallowed their own mythmaking bull. However, thanks to those Conservative senators, the public might get a second, clearer look at this foul bill and, perhaps, agree that Harper, this tin-pot tsar of mediocrity, had indeed, crossed the line, which he has – time and again.

While I will not hold my breath, I look forward to the day when those same members, perhaps joined by others in the governing majority, stand up again against all ensuing bad, punitive and unjust laws that these intellectual midgets are bound to craft. And if it happens a third time and a fourth and fifth, I might yet be convinced that some people, even politicians, are capable of doing the right thing for the right reasons. Until then, I will take this. It is more than I expected.

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