Saturday, December 8, 2012

Sins Of The Harper Government: Ministerial Incompetence, Secrecy, and Contempt For Democracy

For anyone who needs a quick primer over the damage being done to Canada and its citizens by the Harper regime, I recommend the following:

In the F-35 fiasco, truth is the first casualty, a stinging indictment not only of the government lies surrounding the true projected costs of the F-35 fighter jets, but also of the incompetence of the teflon Defense Minister, Peter McKay.

Freedom of expression is more than an international issue, in which Star Public Editor Kathy English laments the sad state of our Freedom of Information Act as obstructed by Mr. Hartper et al.

How Harper exploits Canadians’ ignorance of parliamentary democracy, in which Frances Russell explores the debasement of democracy under Harper, and cites other Parliamentary jurisdictions with models that would throttle the near-dictatorial powers the Prime Minister currently wields.

If knowledge is power, it is time we all begin arming ourselves with the facts.


  1. First of all, the F-35 issue is hardly a debacle. Problematic yes, but hardly as bad as the progressive bloggers are making it out to be. The facts are thus: Canada is in desperate need of a new fighter, period. The CF-18's we currently operate will soon become unsafe to fly - at all. Harper is if nothing else, razor focused on the economy. The F-35 was originally intended for marketing to most NATO countries, and if they adopted it, would find themselves in need of parts and service. By buying into the fighter, Harper positions Canada to be able to compete on these manufacturing and servicing contracts, thus providing jobs, and income for Canadians, helping the economy. The problem: the F-35 was basically designed to meet the needs of the US Navy, the USMC, AND the US Army. As such, it tries to do everything, and succeeds in doing pretty much nothing. The RCAF would much rather buy the F-22 - a much better fighter, but, the export of the F-22 is banned by Congress. And while the cost of the F-35 is prohibitive, failing to get SOMETHING to replace the CF-18's will leave Canada's airspace effectively undefended. Harper's mistake therefore was the stubborn backing of the F-35 without the due consideration of alternatives, and not the impulse to replace the CF-18's. Mitigating this error is the fact that NOTHING has yet been purchased. The money has not yet been spent. Harper shouldn't have mislead parliament, but as far as political scandal goes, that manner of obfuscation is minor, especially when NO MONEY HAS CHANGED HANDS. On the other hand, what will absolutely sink the opposition is the debacle that will ensue if the opposition succeeds in halting the replacement of the CF-18's. If we don't replace them, they put the pilot's lives at unnecessary risk - there's the possibility of structural failure. That's a euphemism for "wing falls off mid-flight!"

    1. Thank you for your comment, Anon. I am largely in agreement with you say, but I don't think there are many who are arguing about not replacing the F-18's, but are very concerned about the blinkered vision of the government in, as you state, its 'stubborn backing of the F-35 without due consideration of alternatives.

      I do disagree with your characterization of Harper's misleading of of Parliament as minor; in steadfastly insisting, against all evidence to the contrary, that the cost of the F-35s was as they stated, the regidme showed its contempt not only for Parliament in particular but the people in general. Surely in a democracy, we deserve and can achieve much better than that.

    2. "I don't think there are many who are arguing about not replacing the F-18's"

      To the Liberal's credit, I'm reasonably certain that Marc Garneau would replace the CF-18's with SOMETHING, not necessarily the F-35. I can't same the same for Thomas Mulcair.

      And it's not like a military procurement contract hasn't been flushed before, as Chretien did with the Sea King helicopter replacement.

      "concerned about the blinkered vision of the government"

      I must confess, there's something that I can't put my finger on about the F-35. The more this bird becomes an albatross, and the more I'm wondering if there's something fishy about the interplay between the Air Force bigwigs at NDHQ, DND HQ its self, and Parliament Hill. Something about the process which we aren't being told, which goes beyond pure economic concern. I would have thought that certainly once the true cost was known that the Tories would simply announce a more comprehensive procurement process, and then possibly just stack the requirements in favor of the F-35.

      But it certainly seems suspicious, why do they have to have the F-35, and not consider any alternative so badly...? I'm not a believer in an overall hidden Tory agenda that some of the Progressive Bloggers believe in, but when it comes to this, what conclusion is possible other than, there's something we aren't being told...?

      "I do disagree with your characterization of Harper's misleading of of Parliament as minor"

      You're right. I should have characterized it as, "not quite as serious as the Progressive Bloggers make it out to be, and not quite as serious as cancelling a helicopter contract which cost Canadian lives."

      Still, there's room for improvement to be sure. And I must admit that if this is the hill that Harper wants to die on, it seems like a very small one to me. Not for contracts that may or may not come to fruition...

  2. Second, I find it quite risible that the political left would think its self qualified to lecture anybody on freedom of expression.

    Considering the nature of what Dr. Farrell actually presented that night, the left's protest only manages to make its self more odious. Indeed, Dr. Farrell makes a very convincing case that there is a "boy crisis," and the left's response is to label it hate-speech.

    I would invite the left to view the presentation for themselves, if only I believe that they had the intestinal fortitude to get passed their own biases.

    1. I shall check out your links here, Anon, and respond later.

    2. I read the Michael Coren piece, Anon, and clearly the effort to suppress his message is offensive, since he apparently was not promoting hatred or violating our laws. However, your suggestion that 'the left' has no moral authority upon which to opine on freedom of expression suggests a false distinction. I hardly regard The Star's Kathy English as the left simply because she points out the suppression of information practised by Harper and company. A criticism of the anti-democratic practices of Mr. Harper does not place one on the left of the political spectrum; all it does is place one amongst the many critics of Mr. Harper.

      As well, I believe that our tendency to pigeonhole and then dismiss people as either left or right, as I suggested to you in an earlier response, is largely attributable to the polarization that has accelerated under the Harper regime. With a government intolerant of differing viewpoints, is it any wonder that the people have become infected by the same taint?

  3. Third, concerning the apparent contempt that the Harper regime has for democracy.

    Well, if the Prime Minister sets the tone, then one should think that it falls to the left to set the opposite tone. The twin cases of Dalton McGuinty and Rob Ford clearly shows that contempt for democracy is hardly the sole domain of the right.

    This does not excuse Harper's expansive reading of parliamentary rules of procedures. This does say that the left should not be trying to beat him in a race to the bottom.

    Indeed, what good is democracy if you cannot beat the right at the ballot box, and so must resort to trying to out-censor, and out law-fare the right? Is it by these tactics that you want to win?

    Harper may well have an overall net negative effect on Canadian democracy, the left does its self no favors by taking up that particular gauntlet.

    1. I completely agree with you here, Anon, although I am not sure that the McGuinty government could really be considered 'left'. In any event, violations of the traditions, spirit, or letters of democracy need to be repudiated no matter what part of the political spectrum commits them.