Vote for Harper and reward contempt for democracy

By Michael Nabert

Having the first and only Prime Minister in Canadian history to be found in contempt of Parliament running the country seems a lot like having a daycare run by someone publicly proud of the fact that they hate kids. I will never for the life of me understand how Canadians rewarded a government that showed contempt for our whole system of democracy by returning them to the job with even more power.

We know there’s a lot of ego here because this man felt the need to rebrand the government of Canada with his name in official government documents.

After advertising himself endlessly as a sound economic steward for the nation, his tax cuts that shamelessly benefited corporations and the wealthiest at the expense of the rest of us has created about a quarter of Canada’s total national debt.

Inequality has deepened under Mr. Harper’s watch, job quality has declined, wages have stagnated, economic growth has been anemic, social protections have been reduced while corporate profits and CEO pay soar.

The New York Times has gone so far as to identify the Harper government’s approach to evidence and information as “an attempt to guarantee public ignorance.”

Scientists in Canada see information commonly withheld from the public that might be important to public health and safety. Micromanaging public access to information about even simple science questions has reached a truly absurd level of obsessiveness.

But it’s not just science, they are just as hostile when even their own evidence shows there are problems with their policies in other sectors, like the effectiveness of their cruel spirited “tough on crime” approach, which the justice department finds makes recidivism worse rather than better.

We should also not forget the demise of the census, which once again prevents Canadians from being able to accurately assess the impacts of the Harper government’s policies, which has caused problems due to the lack of good information in exactly the way opponents of cancelling the census predicted.

This government has waged an ongoing war against the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, otherwise known as one of the things about our country that Canadians as a whole are proudest of.

This government’s disrespect for our veterans is also approaching legendary status.

Stephen Harper has also completely transformed Canada from the beloved creator of modern peacekeeping to a US style rogue state flexing military muscles without international support. Spearheading the modern approach to peacekeeping was identified by Canadians as the thing we are second proudest of that our country has ever done. So Canadians value it. Stephen Harper’s government does not.

Note that the above 2012 article speaks of the UN’s desire for Canadian help to prevent things in Syria from spiralling into a civil war. Guess what? After we said no to trying to promote peace, that civil war we wouldn’t commit any effort to defusing killed 160,000 people.

Heck, back when the UN wanted help Peacekeeping in the Congo, all they asked Canada for was one General with a handful of support staff, and apparently even that was too much, for a high profile mission that would at least have signified Canada retained some symbolic respect for the idea of peacekeeping at all.

Where the current mission in Iraq is concerned, Prime Minister Harper said that Canadian forces would not “accompany” Iraqi troops to the front lines. Chief of the Defence Staff Tom Lawson also told us that Canadian troops would not join Iraqi and Kurdish fighters in front-line action, nor would they be involved in guiding airstrikes. So what happened? Canadian troops spent a fifth of their time on the front lines and guiding airstrikes.

Putting our troops on the front lines makes that a combat mission. Seeing them not only exchange fire with opposition forces but also receiving friendly fire also makes it a combat mission. Lying to the Canadian public about it is just icing on the cake.

Now for the very first time in all of Canadian history, Parliament has voted to act as a rogue state on the world stage, ignoring international convention, ignoring UN requirements, and ignoring the will of the sovereign nation of Syria itself, which has not in any way indicated that it wants us there. What do you call a country that conducts air strikes against another country that it’s not at war with without any sanction to do so? A week ago, you couldn’t have ever answered that question with “Canada.”

It’s in the area of destroying Canada’s natural environment, however, and the global environment to boot, that the Harper government really shines. It’s pretty much the keystone of their policy direction, whether we’re talking about destroying decades of environmental protections in a single bill, doing a crappy job for years in their duty to protect endangered species, declaring that they have zero interest in protecting endangered species in the future, removing protection from fish, and from waterways, slashing Environment Canada, keeping environmental concerns out of the deliberation process for potentially environmentally devastating projects, and of course the worst climate change policy on the planet.

We can also talk about voter suppression, with the “Fair” Election Act as it was originally tabled alone aimed at disenfranchising upwards of half a million citizens despite the fact that the election fraud fears they claimed led to that legislation being pretty much a completely nonexistent thing altogether and their efforts at keeping citizens away from the ballot box didn’t stop there.

Still, as far as respect for your own citizens goes, you can’t get much lower than a government that gives itself the power to strip citizenship from native born Canadians, which no Canadian government in our history has ever even attempted to do because, well, it’s evil.

It would also be smart not to forget that even if he is ousted this year, he leaves the nation a legacy of at least three decades that foreign corporations can override our laws, including any that cities, provinces, or the central government of Canada itself might create for our own protection.

You know, as kind of a final middle finger to the Charter of Rights and freedoms on his way out the door, or it might not actually be decades. By the time the election rolls around, we could have surrendered that sovereignty forever.

The Conservative Party under Stephen Harper broke election spending laws to get elected in 2006, and after stonewalling for five years finally admitted its guilt and paid a fine. Of course, paying a fine as a nuisance cost for spending in the neighbourhood of a million dollars more than they were legally allowed to in the final stretch of an election campaign when it makes the biggest difference seems a small price to pay for winning an election and the ability to set the direction of an entire nation. It’s telling that they declared the verdict “guilty of breaking election law” as “a big victory.” I guess it was: they got away with it.

And here again we have election spending laws broken by part of the same government.

And having run afoul of election spending law twice in a row, it perhaps shouldn’t surprise anyone that the so-called “fair” election law allows them to set election spending limits wherever is most convenient for them (and least convenient for their opposition). It must be nice when you break the law to be able to just change that law however you like.

And then we come to the great unsolved electoral crime of 2011, the Robocall scandal. A Canadian federal court found in no uncertain terms that widespread electoral fraud took place in Canada’s last federal election. The judge also declared that the ruling party engaged in “trench warfare in an effort to prevent this case from coming to a hearing on the merits.” How is that even remotely defensible? If you poisoned someone ‘just a little’ and it wasn’t enough to kill them, would you expect to be acquitted? How about if you poison democracy?

Judges also found that Michael Sona, the lone junior staffer who was charged in relation to the Robocalls, clearly didn’t act alone, and we note he didn’t have access to the high level Conservative resources, specifically their jealously guarded CIMS database, that was used in the crime, but the case was closed anyway. What do you expect when Elections Canada can only investigate any evidence that the accused choose to voluntarily surrender?

Weakening of Elections Canada’s ability to investigate election fraud in future also mean that the paper shredders can go into overtime before investigators can do anything useful, while keeping citizens in the dark.

And now we have CSIS, created in part to curb the overreach of RCMP operating largely as a secret police force, being turned into, you guessed it, a secret police force.

Even media outlets normally quite in lockstep with the Conservatives are calling this one step too far over the line.

Then there’s the book burning. Tens of millions of dollars of irreplaceable research data trashed, discarded, or otherwise swept into what George Orwell called the “memory hole.” What kind of government destroys libraries? Is that the kind of list Canada wants to be on?

The fact that it’s not only past research about things like our precious fresh water resources that has been destroyed, but that further research into the impact we might expect things like pipeline spills to have on our fresh water has also been stopped, ought to give you a clue what that’s about.

But in case it doesn’t, let’s make it clear: the fossil fuel industry asks laws to be changed for their convenience, and the Harper government says “yes sir!”

Criminalizing dissent is also something we tend to associate with Fascist dictatorships rather than supposed democracies.

And that’s just part of a larger effort on the Harper government’s part to stifle free speech, another hallmark of democracy they find inconvenient.

It’s also worth noting that not only is the Canada Revenue Agency targeting charities that disagree with the government’s stance on pretty much anything (and only those they disagree with), but also, in keeping with a government that was first elected on the promise of increasing accountability, destroying the evidence of how it happened.

About Michael Nabert: During the last Federal election, I was naive enough to think that this was as bad as the Harper impact on Canada could get.

Boy, was I wrong. Now all I want is an opportunity to dedicate myself full time for a couple of months to trying to bring his regime to an end while there’s still bits of Canada I find recognizable. Can you spare a buck towards unleashing me on them?

I also hope to organize a bunch of people to politely reach across the political divide to speak words of reason to supporters of my political opponents. Join me/find out more here.

I’m also on Twitter: @SustainableSong

“The notion that a radical is one who hates his country is naïve and usually idiotic. He is, more likely, one who likes his country more than the rest of us, and is thus more disturbed than the rest of us when he sees it debauched. He is not a bad citizen turning to crime; he is a good citizen driven to despair.”
― H.L. Mencken