A Little (Unwanted) Advice to Mr Harper: We Now Know What You Want Monday, Oct 29 2012 

What do we know about Your government? We know that in fact you pay absolutely no attention to the needs and aspirations of the vast majority of Canadian citizens. How do we know this? Because, by effectively closing down any real debate in Parliament and by trying to crush any and all dissent in the country you prove that the only agenda is your agenda.(Meaning the corporate agenda.)

But what is your agenda? This is perhaps more difficult to understand because of course what you are presently doing to Canadians, by and large, was not presented during the election campaign. So we citizens are confronted by a mystery that now has overtones of horror liberally (please excuse the expression) added to it. Personally, although I find it a little underhanded and devious to speak to Canadians about the “massive majority” you now have that allows you total licence to take the nation apart bit by bit and build it in your own image, I believe no government can be tied down to only those issues that are raised in an electoral period. The government must govern in all areas of public need and concern. That being said, the democratic institution upon which government in Canada is founded, and in which we have believed and through which we have flourished as a modern society is something called the Parliamentary Form of Government.

This form of government takes as its basis something that is called “universal suffrage”. Essentially it is a concept that represents the view that all adult citizens of Canada have the right and responsibility to cast a ballot and thereby choose a Member of Parliament that will represent “their interests” in the House of Commons. Now representing their interests implies both knowing their interests and communicating with them about their interests. As Willy Shakespeare said about dreams, “aye there’s the rub”.

We are now presented with a government that has clearly indicated that it really, really does wants to know the views of Canadians. But curiously, they don’t want to know in what Canadians believe. As well, they don’t want to know what Canadians think they need. They don’t even want to know whether the citizens of Canada actually want the avalanche of change that is being foisted upon them through a series of omnibus bills. What they do want to know is: What you are communicating through emails on the internet and what you are saying about the government in commentaries and responses to journalistic writings and reports and finally, what they are most eager to know is who are their real friends (read: enemies).

Now politically speaking, because the Harperites are of a Machiavellian bent, I certainly can’t fault them on their violent course of action which is to close down Parliament by making it both powerless and ineffective. This is a brilliant and successful ruse de guerre where you portray yourself as defenders of the parliamentary system for years by advocating reforms like: theTriple E Senate, referenda and recall and then when elected government with a “huge” majority, you then do precisely the opposite. So now we have the erstwhile defenders of parliament in fact becoming the agents of Parliament’s destruction and demise.

The end of the story would be pretty grim for the citizens of Canada if the Harperites had not misplayed their hand. You see, the challenge of politics is not to dominate and destroy but rather to show leadership and build up. The very public desecration of our precious institution of Parliament is a bridge too far. Canadians are increasingly watching with horror as one by one ill conceived bills are forced through the House of Commons and neither the people of Canada nor their elected representatives are being given the respect due them by those who have the responsibility to care, and by allowing appropriate and fulsome debate on controversial and complex pieces of legislation.

Rather, we have a government totally focused on photo-ops, sneering arrogant public attacks on any who dissent and of course the increased activities in negative advertising and using the police and CSIS to find out who the enemies are and what they are doing and saying. Well as you can see Mr Harper, some of us are not hiding our disagreement and disdain for your government and your (corporate) agenda.We will not be silenced even if you use all the levers of power to get at us. And doubtless as your paid watchers and security forces are informing you, rather than dissent disappearing it is in fact rising every day. Many of us pledge to see this trend continue.

Parliament will live again. Parliament must live again, and your efforts to control and restrict the people of Canada and silence their voice will bring about the downfall of your own government.

The Rise of Tyranny and the Imminent Fall of Canada by 2014 Sunday, Oct 21 2012 

I had occasion last week to be in the area of the Niagara peninsula meeting with other members of the Anglican Church of Canada. Lately, no one could fail to notice the bombardment of advertising trumpeting the heroic and “significant victory” of British Canada over the Americans in the War of 1812. Here we were two centuries later in the very place where the battle of Queenston Heights was fought. I was moved to reflect on the costly public relations campaign supported by the Federal Government which seemed to urge us to revel in the burgeoning power of our country. The ads and the hype that has been generated portray a nation that is strong and free where all things are possible.

One might observe that there are worse images to purvey than images of strength, fortitude and industry. However, I learned many years ago from my teacher of Drama that “All that glisters is not gold; / Often have you heard that told. / Many a man his life hath sold / But my outside to behold.”* In other words beware of the packaging; the thing which we see may very well not be that which we seek. As I looked out from Queenston Heights I suddenly understood a truth that was both disconcerting and devastating.

Our country is well on the road to falling to the greatest enemy that we have ever faced. It is not an enemy from another part of the globe nor is this enemy funded by malign interests whose aim is to subjugate us to the will of a particular religious or philosophical ideal. No. The enemy we face is found in our own country and has been birthed by the apathy, alienation and ignorance of the people of Canada. This enemy has evolved through the intentional collusion of political and economic elements within our own body politic which has used as pretexts the present leadership vacuum, the crises in the world financial institutions and the destabilization of various countries in many parts of the world as a means of exerting total social control. Of course, I am speaking about the Government of Stephen Harper, the legally elected government that took office in May of 2011.

Although there are many pressing and important issues to concern us as citizens: the environment, the growing gap between rich and poor, the degradation of infrastructure and the unchecked abuse of corporate power, none of these is as potentially destructive to our nation as the death of our democratic institutions. Everything else, policies, legislation, regulations and appointments are derived from the effective and honourable functioning of the institution of Parliament. When administered and guided with integrity it is an institution which can provide the necessary leadership and direction which allows for “order and good government”. Of course it isn’t perfect, but then no form of government can be deemed to be perfect.

Parliament in the hands of the Harperites has become a tool of the wealthy and privileged. They know no shame. On the slimmest of majorities they are seeking to so change Parliament that there will be no way to stop them from diminishing the civil and human rights of the vast majority of Canadian citizens. This attempt by a political party to irrevocably change the balance of how our nation functions is the boldest power grab in the history of Canada. It goes back to the days of Pierre Trudeau who began the process by exerting much greater control over the cabinet and inflating the role of the Prime Minister’s Office. Succeeding prime ministers continued that process and expanded the changes to include how the Privy Council Office functioned as well as tightening their control over the day to day operations of Parliament. By the time Stephen Harper became Prime Minister of a majority government many of the changes that had previously taken place provided the basic structure the Conservatives needed to bend Parliament to their own will.

Through the use of omnibus bills, the disempowerment of parliamentary committees, the hijacking of Private Members Bills to launch trial balloons, the maniacal control of information, the sweeping aside of ministerial responsibility and the diminishment of the role and authority of Officers of Parliament and senior Civil Servants, the Harper Government has all but taken all of the power and authority of Parliament into their own hands.

Added to this the attempt to emulate the Americans by utilizing the technique known as the never ending election, ending party subsidies, using attack ads to politically destabilize the opposition and spending obscene amounts of money for government/conservative party advertising and you have a picture of total governmental control not only of Parliament but of the electoral process as well.

But as the Harperites have shown not even that daring agenda is enough. Through the
Minister of Public Safety the government has given warning that they will seek to control the internet and all means of communication. The Prime Minister, Senator Eaton, Minister Kent and a number of others have added bullying to their repertoire and have told NGO’s and Churches in Canada that should they continue to make “political statements” the CRA will investigate their charitable status. And finally, because these kinds of governments are always nervous about what people might do or say they have made lists of enemies who are being watched and whose public utterances are being recorded.

My Friends the time is at hand to take back the nation. We will not use bullying tactics or under-handed means like they do. Neither will we use violence or threats. We will speak the truth to those in power and call into question their right to abuse authority. It is time that we demand accountability. We must not wait until the next election. The time is now. We must not allow them to bring in a reign of tyranny. The only power that can stop them is the power of a united citizenry. Let us now begin the work of joining together for this purpose.

*William Shakespeare: Merchant of Venice, Act ll, Scene vii

What Happens When Those Responsible Take No Responsibility? Chaos. Friday, Sep 21 2012 

Susan Delacourt http://thestar.blogs.com/politics/2012/09/liable-for-damages-.html gives voice to the thousands of people who are close to despair regarding the future of the institution of Parliament. Although I agree with her analysis, there is one important point that needs to be underlined. So far, every government that has been elected in recent years, has only continued down the path of dismantling Democracy. We need a real commitment to renew and restore the only institution that has the potential to guard our democratic rights and provide peaceful, humane and ordered government.

But where is that voice? Where are those leaders? The House of Commons has become a sham of political non-debate where its members mouth platitudes and take default positions that say nothing about governance and everything about lack of vision and incapacity to lead. And despite the fact that all members must take responsibility, the lion’s share of the blame resides with the government. In Canada, every majority government has the authority and power to deal with these problems head on. The fact that they don’t, is an indictment of their commitment to rule without the voce of the People being heard.

Wake Up Canada! It is clear that only we have the power to effect this change. Let us redouble our efforts to let our politicians know we expect better and we demand better! And Wake Up,  Mr. Harper! You who voiced the need for democratic and parliamentary reforms for years before you were elected, were those empty words delivered through cunning and never really believed? Or is there somewhere some remaining vestige of honour and concern for the Common Good? The time to make a real difference in the lives of all Canadians is now. Be assured we will hold you accountable for the promises that you have made.

This Ain’t No Fairy Tale! Tuesday, Aug 21 2012 

The Unfolding Story of a Once Happy Land

Once upon a time there was a happy kingdom where the people lived in relative peace and prosperity. There were other kingdoms and other people who lived different lives and were more influential in the great affairs of the world but that didn’t seem to bother or worry the people of the happy kingdom.

In the happy kingdom small was good. Living in either the country or the city was good. Choosing what ever job you wanted to do was good. Believing in God or not believing in God was good. What seemed to make people happy was that everyone was counted as being important and everyone was deemed to deserve the best possible life that was available in the kingdom.

For many years the happiness of the people could be seen in the values that they shared in common. Justice, peace, equality, compassion, honesty and industry were in clear evidence throughout the land and it was those values that made the people’s life choices so rich and so positive.

One day a new king was chosen. He smiled a great deal and said how wonderful it was to live in the happiest kingdom in the world. He took every opportunity to say how fortunate the people were that they lived in the happy kingdom. He had people wave flags and wear happy land pins to show the world how happy the people were. However, occasionally the king began to tell them about how they needed to be watchful about things that were happening in the land.

The new king began to tell the people of the happy kingdom that they were not really as happy as they used to be because there were bad people in the world and even some bad people in the kingdom. He wrote new laws that said the king and the kings ministers knew far more about what decisions to make about their common life.

The king’s ministers said that the kingdom needed more jails because there were too many bad people doing bad things. Then the ministers said that to stop bad things from happening the king wanted to know what things were being said and done in the kingdom and so listening devices and watching machines were set up to keep the people safe.

Then the king decided that it cost too much money to have people live in the country because they couldn’t share in the full happiness experienced by the people who lived in the city. So the king made it harder for people to live beside the sea or in the forests. One of the happy ideas that the king had was in taking land in the country and giving it to happy rich people who wanted to use that land for the purposes of making money. They did not live in the country. Even though it was not his land the king said that more people would be happy because they would have jobs and be able to live happier lives.

Many more changes began to happen but the biggest change was that people seemed not to be happy anymore. They began to find that there were many more rules to follow than in the happy days. They did not have the same choices and opportunities that they had before and they found that the happiest people had more money and more opportunities than they.

The king began to realize that people did not believe that they were happy anymore so he hired many people who would write stories and communicate how fortunate they were to live in the happy kingdom. This did not seem to convince the people so he began to write more laws and force people to live differently than they had before. His communicators began to teach that happy rich people were more important than other people because they would, through their hard work and wondrous ideas make all the people rich, which ultimately would make everyone happy.

Then one day some people began to say that we don’t need more jails. Some people began to say that the ministers and communicators were telling lies and that it wasn’t riches that made them a happy people but rather the values that they held in common and the array of choices and opportunities that allowed them to make their own life decisions. Many people began to yearn for the simpler days when white was white and black was black and the words spoken by the king were true and brought happiness to the land.

Harperites Seek to Silence the Churches Sunday, Jun 24 2012 

Senator Nicole Eaton now joins the ranks of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Environment Minister Peter Kent and Energy Minister Joe Oliver in trashing any group or organization that raises a dissenting voice to governmental policies or actions. Only Senator Eaton has now given the issue a new twist, helping the cause of government propaganda she has decided to target the mainline churches in Canada.

Over the last few months we have heard ministers of the crown speaking about, “money laundering” and “radicals serving foreign interests”. Added to that venting of spleen is Senator Eaton’s offering of, “influence peddling”. The Prime Minister in a recent interview with Peter Mansbridge even offered the view that organizations who receive federal funding and publicly dissent from government policy will have their funding reviewed because such dissent is not appropriate. The only common thread in this villification and focused attack is that these groups have the audacity to question the priorities and actions of the government. What a sin!

But now the real fun begins for the government. They will try to silence the environmental groups who stand in the way of their pro petroleum legislation and policies. Then they will move on to attack the churches who should not, as the good senator opines, “take political stands. They should be more about helping people and giving people succour”. I am sure next on the list will be the poverty groups, immigration and refugee support agencies and of course those organizations that support women’s issues. The only thing lacking is legislation to ban such groups from actually existing. Fear not, given another mandate, that legislation will enevitably follow.

So what do we make of this attack on the churches? Although only the United Church was singled out for this particular example of vituperation, you can be assured that the Anglican Church, the Roman Catholic Church and others have often committed the “sin” of critiquing the policies of various governments. I recall in the 1970′s the document “Ethical Reflections on the Economic Crisis” published by the CCCB of the Roman Catholic Church received a dismissive comment from Prime Minister Trudeau who said that the bishops should stick to theology and leave economics to the government. Author’s note: (After all the politicians have always done so well by the economy.”) The Anglican Church has often sent clear messages of concern about policies of various levels of government. They have also publicly condemned the federal government for certain policies and initiatives through resolutions passed at General Synod.

My reading of this is similar to Moderator Mardi Tindal who publicly stated, ” there is a very clear distinction between being political, meaning advocating for changes in public policy, and being partisan.” In fact over the last fifty years the churches have felt both the need and the responsibility to keep governments accountable and they have done this on a totally non-partisan basis. I have seen churches criticize Liberal, Conservative and New Democratic  governments across Canada. The point is not that they represent a particular political stripe but that they are the government and therefore responsible to the citizens for the policies and actions that they espouse.

A number of people have taken up the view that there should be a separation between church and state. Maybe this is necessary, it is certainly a debatable point. I hasten to add that the particular doctrine of the separation of church and state is enshrined in the United States system of government, not in the Canadian or British tradition.

What I find offensive is the act of Ministers of the Crown questioning any group or organization’s right to crticize or express dissent. They do so on what basis? To defend the Income Tax Act? To ward off revolution or the attempt to be criminally engaged or perpetrate violence? No, they are engaged in a cynical and reprehensible campaign to further their ideologically based policies by destroying any person or group who has the courage, intelligence and comittment to express a vision of Canada which is just, equitable and compassionate, in other words the opposite agenda to the present government’s.

Mercifully Christians in Canada follow the gospel of Jesus Christ not the gospel of Stephen Harper. I don’t speak for any church, Anglican or otherwise, but I can enunciate clearly what many Christians feel when the government starts name-calling, accusing, and using innuendo to besmirch the good names of people and groups who are unwilling to follow the dictates of this authoritarian regime. They are offended and find such behaviour extremely repugnant.

If the government truly believed in democracy, and the last few months have decidedly shown otherwise, they would not only allow discontent and dissent but ensure that other views are afforded opportunity to be expressed. Democracy requires all sides to be heard for for the initiation of good public policy and so that the best legislative decisions are able to be made. After all, who really has the upper hand in this struggle;  the government or a host of ill funded non profit agencies and organizations that depend on volunteers and the good will of their supporters? If anything is clear from these governmental attacks, it is that the government is afraid of its own citizens and intends to crush any expression of dissent.

If the Harperites continue to initiate the same unjust and inhumane policies that we have seen of late we will not only oppose them, we will redouble our efforts and ensure that every mis-step, every attack, every policy and regulation that hurts our citizens and that sells out the rights of Canadians is witnessed to and that they, the government, are made accountable. They believe that power resides in the government. This is wrong and dangerous thinking in a democracy. The government only has as much power as the citizens of Canada are willing to allow them to use. 

My friends remember, time is on our side,  not theirs.

Margaret Wente pleads ignorance, but promotes fracking anyway! Saturday, Jun 16 2012 

The article written by Margaret Wente and published in the G&M on June 14th was alright until the last paragraph. Ms. Wente’s thesis being if fracking is OK for Obama and a great many scientists (paid by the petroleum industry) its OK for her. Then she says this,

“I’m no expert on fracking technology, and I’m in no position to evaluate the risks. I have to rely on experts for that. The real issue is whether the risks can be managed, and whether the public thinks the risks are worth the rewards. European countries such as France and Bulgaria have decided not. But we’ll have to power up our iPads somehow. Our energy needs are forecast to grow by another 15-20 per cent over the next few years. And it seems to me that tapping into a supply of cleaner, greener, abundant and reliable energy is a no-brainer.

More and faster, please.”

My problem with the article is that it doesn’t do justice to both sides of the issue. The potential benefits for allowing such an industry to flourish may well be an increase in jobs and greater access to cleaner energy sources. These are indeed laudable goals. I hate to be the one to rain on her parade but there is another side to the issue. Disturbing problems with fracking have been witnessed in the United Kingdom, The United States and in Canada. Many scientists not aligned with the petroleum industry have argued that fracking can potentially destroy fishing stocks in river systems and off shore and pollute water tables and put communities at risk because of the high volume of toxic chemicals needed for the procedure. See: http://www.canadians.org/energyblog/?p=320; and: http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/energy/blogs/vermont-becomes-first-state-to-ban-fracking and http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-14432401

The greatest source of disquiet and danger has to do with the future of our fresh water systems and the need to protect them. In the next number of years water will surpass oil and gas in importance for the continued viability of many countries. There are many jurisdictions in the world which are at the breaking as regards their need for an increased fresh water supply. Farcking uses obscene amounts of water and pollutes the surrounding area so that significant volumes of water are rendered unusable. Rather than allowing such procedures to provide more fossil fuels we should be protecting our most precious resource.

Margaret Wente shows an arrogant disregard for the communities that are on the front line of where fracking will happen. Her claim, “I’m no expert on fracking technology, and I’m in no position to evaluate the risks. I have to rely on experts for that. The real issue is whether the risks can be managed…” I find such an approach rather demeaning and simplistic. It is demeaning because we who have to face the potential hazards are usually the people who least have the ear of government. As we now observe, the petroleum industry has their best friends in office, the same parcel of rogues who have just gutted environmental assessment in Canada.

Her approach is simplistic because it puts unquestioning faith in a government and in an industry which have already shown themselves to be enemies of the people. Indeed, Ms Wente, you are no expert. You may well trust the Harperites and the petroleum industry where we obviously do not. But what will you do if even a portion of our concerns for the environment become realities. Will you apologize, retract your statements or hope that everyone has forgotten your incursion into an area which you should have avoided, because as you quite rightly opine, you know nothing about the issue. We unfortunately will have to live with the results. Thank you so much.

 

 

The Aim of the Harperites Revealed: No dissent! No protests! No rights! Tuesday, Jun 12 2012 

Steven Harper has warned agencies and organizations and especially environmental groups who publically dissent from “government policy” that if they are funded by the government they will be cut. His exact quote was: “If it’s the case that we are spending on organizations that are doing things that are contrary to government policy, I think that is an innappropriate use of taxpayers money and we’ll look to eliminate it.”

On Saturday CBC’s “The House” http://www.cbc.ca/thehouse/2012/06/09/alex-himelfarb-james-rajotte/ host Evan Solomon asked the all important question: Does the government have an obligation to fund organizations that don’t support its own policies?” Both Bob Mills a former conservative MP and a member of the Round Table and the former Clerk of the Privy Council Alex Himelfarb answered yes because democracy is the beneficiary. If the government does not hear dissenting opinions about major issues, policies or concerns, they will be incapable of doing the job they need to do. Not only is democracy served by such public discourse but the creation of better public policy is facilitated as well. It is too easy for government to be isolated and hear only the “cheerleaders” who are invariably government supporters. 

The National Round Table on the Environment and Economy is slated to be cut because it does not represent the government’s environmental approach. Minister Peter Kent speaking on behalf of the government has responded that the work of the Round Table no longer does a job that is needed because the internet and other groups provide information that duplicates their work. This view is not shared by other conservatives who have been actively concerned in environmental issues.

Mike de Souza a journalist for Postmedia News reported the comments of Mark Parent another member of the Round Table and a former Conservative Nova Scotia Minister of the Environment, Mr Parent said. “”Anyone who says they’re an economic genius when they take attitudes such as we’ve been seeing — with not just unfortunately the federal government, but I see it with provincial governments — are wrong, It’s for political short-term reasons; it’s not for long-term economic reasons. It’s not economically sensible.”

James Rajotte, Chair of the Finance Committee tried to spin Harper’s comments to be only related to environmental groups, Through close questioning by Evan Solomon Mr. Rajotte tried to distance the Prime Minister and the government from somre of the bullying comments made by certain ministers regarding their expressed dissent. Mr. Rajotte said, “it’s not the Prime Minister, it’s not the cabinet who determines who gets charitable status, it’s the Canada Revenue Agency. CRA does the monitoring for all the charities in Canada as well and decides whether to revoke or not. It’s not a political decision, that’s an independant decision by the CRA.”

Perhaps Mr. Rajotte should consult with his Harperite brother in the Conservative cause, Minister Peter Kent who said to Evan Solomon on the April 28th edition of “The House”, “Some groups with charitable status have been going well beyond the CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) guidelines for what is acceptable practice as a charitable agency. ” If Mr. Rajotte is trying to say that there is no political link between the Harperites and the CRA, I am afraid he makes a very poor case. Mr. Kent has repeated these comments many times. He at least is very public about his views regarding any dissent aimed at government policy and what the CRA should do about such expressed dissent.

The Harperites have been busily cutting any programs that do not adhere to their ultra-right ideological agenda take a look at a partial list of the agencies and organizations that they have cut up until the last budget. See: http://rewindthecuts.ca/2011/05/02/stephen-harpers-hit-list/

In this budget the Harperites have axed: The National Council on Welfare, Rights and Democracy, The Public Appointments Commission, The National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, The Katimavik program, which allows young people to experience life in different communities; Human Assisted Reproduction Canada and a host of other environmental, legal and social agencies an organizations. According to government we have no need of such voices or opinions.

The aim of the Harperites is clear: No dissent, No protests, No rights

Harper’s Make-Believe Government: No Accountability and No Transparency Thursday, Jun 7 2012 

 

Kevin Page the Parliamentary Budget Officer knows that he’s on the Tories hit list. All the Members of the House of Commons know that Mr Page has become a thorn in the side of the Harper government. Then why don’t the Harperites just admit that they will not give Mr Page the information that he is seeking because they are afraid he will do with that information what he has done with all the information he has received thus far-he will make it public, because that is what his job demands of him. 

Mr. Page is looking for information regarding the projected effects of the cuts that are being made through the budget. The $5.2 billion in spending cuts will obviously affect government jobs, programs and services. His questions are important if he is to fulfill his mandate to respond fulsomely to the queries of Members of the House of Commons. But what we find are stalling tactics, obfuscation and lies.

As we read in today’s article by Paul McLeod in the Chronicle Herald, “The government initially said it was handcuffed from releasing cut details by union contracts that require giving advance notice to employees.””

But government unions then went public, saying they supported more information about cuts being released as long as it didn’t name specific employees losing their job.”

“In the House of Commons on Wednesday, Treasury Board President Tony Clement said the government was holding back information for compassionate reasons.” Now get this…

“This isn’t about the unions, it’s out of compassion for workers that we decided to inform them first,” said Mr Clement. The other day Minister Peter Kent described Megan Leslie’s very reasonable question in the House as ‘sanctimonious twaddle’. How should we characterize Mr Clement’s offering? Let me just say that Mr Clement has a rather loose understanding of what is required when one is asked to honestly respond to a legitimate question.

So, why the secrecy? Why are the Harperites unwilling to respond with clear answers to these requests?  Curiously it was the Harper government that passed the Accountability Act in 2006 as a means of ensuring that transparency was maintained in the reporting of financial and economic information to Members of Parliament. But here they are, now as a majority government, actually refusing to comply with the request of the person who presently holds the position that their own government established. Back then, during the debate on the Accountability Act,  they argued that it was necessary to have a person charged with the responsibility of making sure that  Parliamentarians were able to secure the necessary and pertinent information that would help them to make the best decisions as legislators. The Harperites, it seems,  no longer feel that that is demanded of the government.

Kevin Page is very clear, both about his mandate and about the principle that is at stake. He is reported in the McLeod article as writing of his concern in this way,  ““Without transparency (we only have proposed savings by department; no baselines by program activity) it is impossible for Parliament to hold the government to account…” And this is the crucial point, Mr Page is doing precisely what he is supposed to do he is part of the system that helps keep the government accountable to the citizens of Canada by providing parliamentarians with the information they require to be able to do their job efficiently and effectively. By withholding information and maintaining secrecy on the flimsiest of rationales, the Harperites are proving that they are governing in bad faith. It also clearly shows that they have no respect for Parliament or the citizens of Canada.

Warning! Beware Lurking Harperites Obscuring the Truth! Tuesday, Jun 5 2012 

The CBC reported today: “Organizers of a one-day website blackout say the Harper government is using its majority to force through environmental changes it never campaigned on, silencing its critics while it does the bidding of the oil industry.”

“More than 500 websites went dark on Monday, as a coalition of environmental groups, corporations, church groups and other political commentators joined forces for an “unprecedented” protest of what they see as the government’s effort to “silence” environmental voices using measures found in the omnibus budget implementation legislation.”

“Over one-third of [Bill] C-38′s text is devoted to short-circuiting Canada’s most important environmental laws,” said Rick Smith, the executive director of Environmental Defence Canada.”

To show that the Harperites are all for free speech 10 cabinet ministers fanned out across the country to tell, “the other side of the story.”  Excuse me, the other side of the story? Let me get this straight. The Harper government which won a majority government with less than 40% of the votes cast and who control in the most dictatorial manner ALL the levers of power have decided to send in the cavalry to ensure that ‘truth and justice’ prevail.

These are the same individuals who would read your emails, build more jails, throw potential immigrants who have followed the rules out of the immigration process, deprive refugees of health care, send many refugees back to face violence, persecution or even death, and who would destroy the environment and rid Canada of any real environmental protection to please their best buddies in the petroleum industry, these…people are now concerned that the truth should be told.

What would they even know of the truth? Minister Peter Kent in response to a question regarding a very real concern for parliamentary process posed by Megan Leslie the environment critic of the NDP, responded to the question by calling it “sanctimonious twaddle” to the hoots and jeers of his colleagues. The only time I have observed sanctimony is when the said minister of the Crown “defends” the cause of the petroleum industry and attempts to deflect attention from the very real questions and concerns offered by First Nations and other interested citizens as they seek to defend their lands and the environment.

Emile Zola once said, “If you shut up truth and bury it under the ground, it will but grow, and gather to itself such explosive power that the day it bursts through it will blow up everything in its way.” Let them use taxpayers money to churn out their propaganda, let them suppress the voices of the people, let them use the levers of power to injure the natural world, let them even resort to political trickery and ignoble acts which debase our parliamentary and governmental institutions, the rising anger of the citizens of Canada will inevitably sweep them away and with them their destructive inhuman policies. Let us hope it is sooner rather than later.

The People of Quebec Need An Election Friday, Jun 1 2012 

The breakdown in the negotiations between the Liberal government and the student leaders has lead to much speculation. Before there is too much finger pointing at those “unfair” students who are “holding the province hostage,” let’s have a reality check. The way we got into this mess, or rather the way the Charest government got us into this mess, is by not speaking with the students for weeks when the students were publically asking for discussions. We have arrived at this point because the Liberal government made the political calculation that if they maintained their strong attitude in the face of students demands they would signal to the province and to the students their resolve to raise tuition fees.

This one calculation became the single greatest mistake of the government as regards this crisis. In fact the students who are directly affected by the government’s decision have a basic right to question the government on the prudence of such a decision and they also have the right to speak directly with the government on an issue of public policy. To be refused was not only arrogant but in this case a miscalculation of tremendous proportions. Rather than winding down and disappearing the students have wound up and become a force with which to be reckoned. Rather than looking strong the government began to look what it truly was, weak and indecisive.

Then in a cynical political move to try and wrest a public relations victory from defeat, the government, watching the negative images of the few hundred demonstrators who were doing violent acts resolved to prove their strength by the use of force. They made the gamble that Quebeckers would rather have social peace than the endless protests and the violent acts of a few. Their hopes to turn it all around was found in Bill 78.

Of course Bill 78 did precisely the opposite. It’s draconian unfair and repressive measures were seen as intolerable by not just the students but by lawyers, doctors, teachers, and a host of ordinary citizens of every age. What had been a political battle with the students over tuition fees became a war between the government and a quickly growing number of the citizens of Quebec over the government’s incapacity to govern.

If you look at this from an objective point of view,  what is amazing is that all governments hold the power card. They all have the resources to churn out media releases, they can demand the presence of the media anytime, they can move the police into any situation they choose, they are accorded in our Quebec and Canadian society a preeminence and the right to move and act because of our collective belief in peace, order and good government. But in this case we have a situation where the government has shown to all the world that it cannot govern, that it does not have a plan to move forward or the strength and wisdom to sort it out the issue.

So yesterday the talks broke down with the government. Are we surprised? The government has no maneuverinng room left. To cede to the students any major concession is to trumpet far and wide that it is merely a hollow rusted out vehicle of governance and that the citizens of Quebec need to find another government, and fast.

My guess is that the power brokers in the Liberal Party have been meeting around the clock to try and figure out an exit strategy. The questions that they will ask themselves are: In any election that is to be held will the findings of Jacques Duchesneau and the Inquiry led by Judge France Charbonneau ruin any chance at re-election? Will the handling of the student issue ultimately do them in? Are they able to recapture public opinion and make it look as if the students are the “bad guys” then run an election which focuses on the students and draws attention away from the Charbonneau Commission? If they believe that the student protests are safer ground than the charges of corruption, they will choose an election “forced on them” by the protesting students.

We will know soon enough. But let there be no obfuscation of the facts. the Liberal government has run its course and no longer has the capacity to be the government of Quebec. It is time for an election. No matter how they spin the cause for calling one, their goose is cooked.

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