This raw video from this morning's efforts at damage control says all there needs to be said about Harper and accountability:
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Although it has been many years since I read Bram Stoker's Dracula, I recall that it was a far more subtle and eerie depiction of vampiric activity than the generations of films that it spawned. The latter almost invariably portrayed Dracula as a charming yet unholy creature who pounced swiftly, gorily, and mercilessly upon his victims; the novel, on the other hand, depicted a creature that, while driven by an unslakable thirst, did not deprive Mina Harker of her life in one fell swoop, but slowly drained her of her life force, leaving everyone bewildered as to the cause of her demise. If anything, this Dracula, with his endgame in mind, had the patience and self-control necessary to see his goals through.
In many ways, Stoker's original creature serves as an apt metaphor for the unholy political practices that have been underway these past several years in Canada under Stephen Harper. For those with any sense of history, it is obvious that there has been a gradual yet systematic exsanguination of the values and programs that have been a proud part of our identity for many many years. While I have no intention of offering a comprehensive list of those depredations, as others have done a far better job in analyzing them than I ever could, a few will suffice to demonstrate how far we have fallen under this regime and, to be fair, under previous ones, who paved the way for our current unhealthy state:
The Erosion of Progressive Taxation: At one time, there existed the notion that as people's income rose, they paid proportionally more. Like the corruption that the vampire represents, the Harper regime has seduced Canadians into believing they deserve to keep more of their earning (pension splitting, TFSAs, reduction of GST, record low corporate taxes, etc.) without a thought given to the services they pay for, the social safety net that keeps people from truly hitting bottom, the egalitarian nature of our health care, etc.)
The Progressive Destruction of The Environment: The strident calls of this corporatist government would have us believe that muzzling scientists, closing research facilities, aggressively pursuing tarsands development are all but innocent cost-saving and revenue boosting initiatives that have little to no impact on the climate crisis currently engulfing the world.
A Degree of Government Secrecy Incompatible With a Democracy: Canada now ranks No. 55 among 93 nations when it comes to the law that allows journalists and others to get access to federal government documents. As reported in The Star, this ranking by the Centre for Law and Democracy puts us just ahead of Angola and Thailand, but one place behind Slovakia. This is a huge drop from 31 years ago when Canada’s initial legislation on access to information (ATI) was hailed as world-leading.
When a government regulars denies its citizens and parliamentarians access to the information that allows for informed discourse and thoughtful decisions, the illusion of a free and open society wears very thin very quickly. The ongoing very secret negotiations around the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) trade deals are probably one of the most worrying indicators of further Harper destruction, as many claim it will give the same power that NAFTA does to investors to sue governments if their polices (e.g. environmental) hamper their profit-making ability as well as limit governments' ability to use local suppliers and businesses in contracts.
In many ways, the current Senate expense scandal is but a sensational diversion from the much larger picture of corrupt abuse of power endemic in our current political apparatus. While disgraced Senator Duffy has become a donkey upon whom it is fun to pin the tail, there is a much larger tale to be told and taught to the people of Canada. Yet perhaps there is a lesson to be learned in the almost universal condemnation that Duffy's dishonesty has provoked. Most see his fraudulent expense claims as a grievous insult to all who work hard, many eking out meager existences, and dutifully paying their taxes. In other words, his abuses are something we can all relate to.
Perhaps, like the librarians in Troy Michigan who mounted such an effective campaign to stop the erosion of library services, all who are able, both within and outside of the blogosphere, need to find new, compelling and relatable ways to present the story of our deterioration as a nation in order to galvanize the electorate. Given our collective knowledge and creativity, this should be a task many are well-suited for.
Because let's face it - without widespread citizen engagement and resistance, the Dracula within our midst will only continue to drain our nation's lifeblood.
Monday, May 20, 2013
...as the years went by, I saw Duffy transformed from what he was then to what he is now. Like so many celebrities, he started to believe his own baloney. His shows on Baton Broadcasting and CTV were more about him than politics. He tumbled into the ego trap.
He also developed an affection for the Conservative party, beyond the distaste most journalists felt for the overbearing Liberals. Today’s Tories cherish the role of victims, pretending the media comprise a unified phalanx ranged against them. They ignore the role reporters played in the sponsorship scandal and downfall of the entitled Liberals.
Yet Duffy’s role in the destruction of Stéphane Dion was one of the most shameful abuses of journalism I have ever witnessed. You’ll recall that five days before the 2008 election, Dion stumbled while answering a confusing question from CTV’s Steve Murphy. Duffy rushed the tape to air and made Dion look like a dope, exactly as the Conservative attack ads portrayed him.
That well-timed but unethical act put Duffy firmly on the Tory team.
You can read the full reminiscence of Duffy former friend Dan Leger on how the disgraced senator achieved his current state of public odium here.
H/t Dawg's Blog & Alison at Creekside for the inspiration.
Oh, the great outdoors beckon on this fine Victoria Day morning, so for now, allow me to offer you this from today's Toronto Star:
Hard to believe Duffy has no nest egg
Re: Duffy resigns from caucus, May 17
It seems egregious Mike Duffy has been running roughshod over Canadians for some time, without attracting public opprobrium. Five years ago the Canadian Broadcasting Standards Council ruled that he had violated broadcasting codes and ethics. Three years ago Duffy criticized the University of King's College and other journalism schools for teaching critical thinking, and added that the schools were raising left-wing journalists. On Friday we read that he tried to influence the CRTC on behalf of Sun Media.
He accepted $90,000 from Nigel Wright, the top man at the PMO, because, reportedly, he was worried about his heart and that his death would leave his wife in dire financial circumstances.
Duffy has been a senior journalist — presumably with commensurate salary — for more than 40 years, yet we are supposed to believe he has no nest egg. As a senator, he has enjoyed a generous expense subsidy from the Canadian taxpayer. He owns a couple of properties. He is director of Mike Duffy Media Services Ltd. As he knows, his wife would qualify for a generous pension when he dies. So I am puzzled that he had to accept the $90,000 windfall.
When an employee fiddles with his expense account, most probably he would be fired and called a thief. When a senator is caught, he becomes an independent senator. No condemnation, no punishment. Just another day on Parliament Hill.
Jerry Tutunjian, Toronto
In 2005, Stephen Harper said that anyone in his government who acted inappropriately would suffer the consequences. We now see the Conservatives again doing back flips trying to justify the unjustifiable. In the case of Mike Duffy, there seem to be more allegations of improper conduct on a daily basis that would involve the police if it was someone other than a Conservative. If the senator had any decency he would resign from the Senate.
Chester Gregorasz, Cambridge