Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Stephen Harper - He's Not Here For You

But of course I state the obvious here, don't I? Nonetheless, for those who like regular and ongoing illustrations of the fact that the Prime Minister and his acolytes are in the thrall of 'special interests,' one need look no further than a report in today's Toronto Star.

Currently, non-financial businesses are sitting on over $600 billion in cash reserves, thanks to a very favourable tax regime from the Harperites and similarly obeisant and compliant provincial governments. At the same time, however, these 'masters of the universe,' reluctant to spend their largess on research and development, new equipment purchases, or just about anything else, have gotten new incentive to hoard and count their cash:

The Conservative government says the National Research Council is now “open for business” and will refocus on large-scale projects “directed by and for” Canadian industry — a change some scientists call a mistake.

Part of the mandate of the NRC is to work with and help support industry, but what is new here is the fact that it appears this will now essentially be its exclusive mandate, dictated by the 'needs' of industry.

While one understands that it is difficult for the current government regime, looking as it does with grave suspicion upon critical and nuanced thinking, to comprehend, the words of Nobel laureate John Polanyi, who says that steering the NRC away from basic research is misguided, need to be heard:

“One should structure things so (scientists) have the freedom and responsibility to provide ideas to industry, not just receive commands,” ...

Queen’s University professor and Canada Research Chair in Environmental Change, John Smol, explains it this way:

“I look at science as a pyramid. At the bottom you have all this basic fundamental research and at the top you have the applied. But you can’t have the applied without the basic,” he said.

Smol goes so far as to see something quite sinister in the Harper decision to make the NRC the handmaiden of the corporate agenda:

Smol, a lakes ecosystem expert, believes the decision to recast the NRC is part of a Conservative pattern of cutting funding for basic science in favour of applied research that will generate a profit.

“What you find in environmental research are things that will cost industry money,” he says. In a recent study, Smol showed that lakes near Alberta’s oil sands are filled with contaminants.

One assumes that with its new orders, the National Research Council will not anytime soon be conducting such embarrassing studies that could hamper the ever-stronger march of corporate dominance.

Another victory for the Harperites. Another loss for the non-corporate citizens of Canada.


  1. And when they are thrown out of office, Lorne, they will make lucrative salaries as members of corporate boards.

  2. Already so well-versed in the corporate ethos, Owen, I am sure they will prove to be invaluable board members.

  3. Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Neoconservatism: This entire “hard right” movement is a crock. It is not a religious evangelist movement, OR a Christian moral movement.

    It is a corporate movement.

    From Emily Dee:

    1. I agree completely, Nadine. It is just that the Harper Conservatives promote that corporate agenda with the religious zeal of the 'true believer' who takes everything on faith. Just secular fanatics, I guess.