Thursday, 22 October 2015

The Last Gasp of Harperism?

There is a thing happening in Ottawa today. A huge militaristic memorial on the first anniversary of the death of Corporal Cirillo. There are flags, wreaths, bands, a huge military presence in dress uniform, and there is going to be a flyover and a 21 gun salute.

This event was planned quite some time ago, long before the election results were known. Probably while Harper was fully convinced that he would certainly win the election. I strongly suspect this event was intended to be a celebration of the triumph of fear, a solidifying of the darkness and control that Harper brought to Canada. A reminder that we should be afraid, should mistrust others, should surrender to the "protection" of the government and C-51.

In the US they do this thing every September 11 to commemorate the victims of 9/11, the bombing of the twin World Trade Centre towers in New York. That was back in 2001, 14 years ago. It has become almost a religion down in the States. The reading of the thousands of names of the dead, the pomp and ceremony... And there is nothing wrong with keeping the memories of one's loved ones alive. I am certainly not saying anyone should forget them. But this type of event is not about fond memories. It is not about cherishing those who were lost tragically. It is about solidifying a mind-set in the public consciousness. It is a remembering, a celebration even, of horror. It serves to remind people that this is a dark and scary world where we should be afraid. As such, it seems to be directly counter to the essential themes of optimism, hope, and the idea of moving forward to make the world better. 9/11 has become a defining feature of the American psyche.

This ceremony in Ottawa today seems very much an attempt by Harper to create his own "9/11" ritual. A standing reminder that we are constantly under attack, that we should subsume our rights and freedoms, that we should engage in a ghastly outpouring of nationalistic fervour focused on death...

A year ago I wrote a piece on the death of Corporal Cirillo. My opinion has not changed.  The government has changed though. And I certainly hope the new Government of Canada does not plan to make this an annual event. We should not pretend it didn't happen. We should not forget. But we should not let it become a symbol of who we are. We have a duty to all who came before to focus on life and growth and moving forward in sunny ways.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Why I think Stephen Harper and his CPC are bad for Canada

I think my objections to the CPC and Stephen Harper fall into four categories:

Things that diminish Canada on the world stage: Things like refusing to sign international treaties on controlling the weapons trade, combating desertification, recognizing the rights of indigenous people, and Canada fighting an international ban on trade in asbestos. Also, tying international aid to access for resource extraction companies, trying to bully other world leaders, and launching a campaign to make potential Roma immigrants know they are not welcome here, refusing to include family planning in the initiative for maternal health. Despite a commissioned study that suggests Canada is still admired in the world, the loss of the seat on the Security Council of the UN is just one proof that we have lost a lot of the respect we once had in the international community.

Things that diminish us as Canadians: Things like removing environmental protection on most of our waterways and lakes, dismissing or ignoring First Nations issues, changing the eligibility age for Old Age Security from 65 to 67, fighting veterans in court, redefining endangered species, calling environmentalists "extremists" and "dangerous radicals", passing C-51 without including real time oversight (there are tons of other things wrong with C-51, but for the sake of brevity...), using the CRA to go after charities whose views do not align with the government while at the same time cutting budget to CRA efforts to track off-short tax evasion, cutting science budgets and destroying research libraries and archives, muzzling scientists and civil servants, ignoring best practices in other jurisdictions that offer models of sane and effective corrections systems in favour of following the failed and grossly expensive US model, dogma-based decision-making on a huge range of issues, and defunding the CBC, firing and trying to discredit whistle-blowers,cutting programs for women, making EI harder to get, removing the word “equality” from the mandate for the Status of Women while cutting their budget and offices in half, closing veterans affairs offices, I could go on....

Things that are outright illegal or reek of corruption: Things like the “in-and-out” scandal during the 2006 election, election spending fraud in 2008, the robocalls/voter suppression scandal of 2011, the Cadman affair, the very founding of the CPC, selling off Canada's Nuclear Power industry to the most corrupt corporation on the planet (SNC-Lavelin, according to the World Bank) for a pittance, the Wright-Duffy affair, 30 Senators under RCMP investigation, the PMO's association with Nathan Jacobsen, appointing Arthur Porter as head of the body intended to review Canada's spy agency, the whole business with Bruce Carson, rewriting our election laws to make it more difficult for certain people to vote and make it nearly impossible for their future electoral frauds to be investigated, secret arms deals with the Saudis, 26 secret Orders-in-Council...

Things that just reveal what an intensely nasty man Stephen Harper is: Went to visit pandas instead of meeting with First Nations youth who walked from Northern Ontario to meet with him, refused to speak with Teresa Spence when she was on a hunger strike to get an “audience” with him, attacking the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, refusing to speak to media, changing his story/spinning the facts/outright lying pretty much all the time (and on things that are fact-checkable, if you look) refusing to let the general public attend his campaign events, always finding someone else to blame if anything goes wrong (nothing is ever his fault but if things go well he takes the credit e.g. Franklin ship discovery), uses every means possible to incite hatred against certain minority groups, and keeps lists of enemies. There are also various rumours and unconfirmed accounts of what he is like out of the public eye – swearing, yelling, threatening, ruining people's careers. Eve Adams reported that a pregnant staffer fainted and fell to the floor during a meeting and Harper screamed at everyone to sit down and ignore her. Eve Adams is probably not the most reliable source, but it fits the pattern reported by many others. There is also his personal portrait gallery. You can read about it here: Seriously, if you need any more proof this guy is “different”, this should be all it takes.

There are links verifying all but the word-of-mouth accounts of his private behaviour. But there are enough accounts, chillingly similar, to lend credence to them.

I know being a "nice guy" is not necessarily a requirement to lead a country. I can think of many not-so-nice guys that have led countries for fairly extended periods of time. Stalin, for one. Franco, Mao, Ghadaffi, Idi Amin... It is alleged that Preston Manning once took his protege, Stephen Harper, aside to give him a bit of friendly advice. “You know, Stephen, if you’re going to stay in this political business, you don’t have to love people—but you can’t hate them.” But hate us he does. And that is why we must all do whatever we can to make sure he is not our Prime Minister come October 20, 2015.