Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Refusing To Become What The Harper Government Wants Us To Be

While Stephen Harper's trip to Israel is receiving wide domestic media coverage, coverage that I have been studiously avoiding out of deference to my at-times delicate sensibilities and constitution, the following Harper encomium strikes me as both chillingly ironic and hypocritical:

Israel is the only country in the Middle East that has rooted itself in the ideals of “freedom, democracy and the rule of law.”

Over time, ... this is the only ground “in which human rights, political stability and economic prosperity may flourish.”

Strange, this pronouncement of praise for a political principle that the Prime Minister and his cabal are working so hard to undermine here at home.

“Freedom, democracy and the rule of law” can only flourish in an open society, one in which citizens are treated with respect and given ready access to as much information as they want. Sadly, by this measure, Canada is quickly becoming a failed state under the ministrations of a government dedicated to suppression and vilification.

This process of re-engineering us into compliant, passive and unquestioning 'citizens' is ongoing, and has already been well-chronicled both in the media and the blogosphere. Nonetheless, it seems like a propitious time to offer a few salient reminders of what this administration has recently been doing to constrict the lifeblood of democracy, information, with such messianic zeal:

- Despite committing $22 million to an advertising blitz to promote the tarsands, 'Uncle Joe' Oliver, our Natural Resources Minister, has told Canadians they will not be permitted to know the details and ultimate cost until 2015 or 2016, after the campaign is over.

- Health Canada's main library has been closed, with some scientists being forced to squirrel away materials in their basements and borrow students' library cards to access university library materials.

- The Harper regime has been systematically shutting down Canada's national archives. Especially hard hit are those sources of environmental studies that provide a basis for analyzing the Harper assault on the environment. Amongst the casualties are:

the environmental research resources of the St. Andrews Biological Station in St. Andrews, New Brunswick (whose scientists Rachel Carson corresponded with when she was writing Silent Spring);

the Freshwater Institute library in Winnipeg;

the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Centre in St. John's, Newfoundland

seven of eleven libraries operated by the Department of Oceans and Fisheries, as previously noted, have been closed.

And, as noted by Andrew Nikiforuk, the government has killed research groups that depended on those libraries such as the Experimental Lakes Area, the Hazardous Materials Information Review Commission and the DFO's entire contaminants research program. The Freshwater Institute as well as the Centre for Offshore Oil, Gas and Energy Research (COOGER) has lost much of their funding and staff, too.

To continue this litany of darkness would be pointless and too depressing. Nonetheless, I continue to nurture the hope that increasing numbers of Canadians will become aware of the Harper-led assaults on fundamental democracy that are taking place, not only in the very public arena and institution of Parliament (don't get me started), but also on the publicly-funded repositories of information and analysis that are part of our rich heritage.


  1. Lorne, also please don't forget the way Israel has been treating Palestinians. Desmond Tutu of South Africa called Gaza an apartheid group of people. He further says that Gaza apartheid is worse than apartheid which existed in South Africa.

    Harper’s praise of Israel in terms of “freedom, democracy and the rule of law” is highly misleading. Then Palestinians in Israel are treated worse than animals. Then of course black Israelis who migrated from African countries to Israel to avoid persecution in their home countries face very shoddy treatment.

    Harper has upset Muslims around the world for his praise of Israel and unconditional support.

    1. Timely reminders, LD, and further testament to the perverted concept of democracy that Harper touts.

  2. "Freedom, democracy and the rule of law” can only flourish in an open society, one in which citizens are treated with respect and given ready access to as much information as they want"
    A place where those employed by government be they scientists, bureaucrats or elected representatives are able to access accurate information and discuss it with the citizens of that place without fear of repercussions. Just not in Canada eh

    1. Harper's hypocrisy is breathtaking in its scope, Rural.

  3. .. the question of our times, in Canada today.. is certainly one of our national identity.. and a related question must be.. do 'we' care.. PM Harper is trying to permanently embed the bizarre notion that he reflects (or is) our national identity and we should ensure our values, emulate his.. or lack of..

    Here's a short list for the pollsters .. and ideally the questions to the Canadian public * of all ages * would be framed in positive ways, accommodating blunt intuitive responses..

    Here's a sample or two..

    - Q - Do you care if Canada lets other countries control the development, mining/harvest & sale and delivery of our natural resources, energy, fish, lumber, grain etc .. or if the cost for that decision is the extinction of species like salmon, polar bears, caribou, eagles or killer whales because we eliminated the habitat, waters, forest etc they lived in.. or if certain regions have no safe drinkable water or useful soil, breathable air as a result?

    - Q - Do you see any value in letting partisan political parties gain further control or direct how Canada moves into the future.. in particular by their secretive use of databanks, election funds, robo & live calls, or questionable election campaigns or electoral fraud to manipulate, gain on maintain power?

    - Q - Do you care if to a great extent, Parliament and our political process is simply posturing and its the religious beliefs, greed or immorality of the Prime Minister or his complicit MP's, corporate sponsors & controllers that define policy, legislation and secret economic agreements?

    - Q - Do you care if Members of Parliament, unelected anonymous public servants ie in the PMO or many or any of the consultants hired or contracted by the Federal Government end up in jail for fraud, illegal lobbying, graft, lawsuits or have relationships with their babysitters or nannies or parliamentary pages and secretaries?

    - Q - Do you know what 'The Rapture' is? Do you know what religions believe the ultimate fall of Israel is the biblical key for good christians to rise triumphantly by the hand of god up into the rosy clouds

    - Q - Do you have better questions for your fellow Canadians, that might help improve the situation? Or do you trust folks like Tony Clement, Dean Del Mastro, Senator Gerstein, Ray Novak, Ezra Levant, or Arthur Hamilton or Julian Fantino to look after the important stuff for you ?

    1. These are very provocative questions, Salamander, that, if ever asked, would likely provoke some serious thought and discussion among Canadians. While it is safe to assume such a poll would never be commissioned by any of our 'leaders,' it could prove a potent weapon in the hands of a group dedicated to improving public policy, if it had sufficiently deep pockets to underwrite it.

    2. .. I'm not certain there is much hard cost to such a poll, Lorne

      To a certain extent, such a poll. with exceptionally well developed questions & criteria would generate its own inertia.. driving on as a Q & A reflection of true concerned Canadian spirit, identity and response..

      In their own way, the indy blog items from yourself, Mound, Beav, Lautens, Whirlpool, Owen at N Reflections, Kinsella, Simon etc.. all have driven thought, process, review and spread knowledge.. and in fairness so have some mainstream media.. as well as the unique ones like Kady and Rick Mercer etc.. or a truly heavy battlewagon like Neil Young

      In a unique progressive and unique way.. you.. and me.. are a poll.. a reflection of ideas and thoughts of real people

      I guess what I am driving at is to identify or refine what really matters to Canadians, First Nations, immigrants, the aged, the young, the workers, teachers, artists, mothers, grandparents, miners, farmers, fishermen, clerics, students & newborns..

      I truly don't give a f off to what greasy spokes-dwarts like Joe Oliver or Jenni Byrne 'think' or are told to say.. or what a fatuous self absorbed dick like Harper trots out to dweeb political weasels in Israel.. I care what the pulse and reality of this gigantic country called Canada is..

      A 'running poll' .. non partisan .. tabulating, reflecting .. observant, reactionary, abrasive, honest, simple, blunt & clear, Canadian .. could be just the nurse or doctor that Canada needs.. taking our temperature, listening to our concerns or fears, investigating & identifying pathogens and infections, treating us for.. or suggesting simple remedy for the ills of a modern society, threatened by toxic, rabid, dishonest political animals

    3. I understand that the man who has declared war on knowledge is receiving an honorary doctorate from Te Aviv University. It will be worth exactly what Harper's Master's degree from the University of Calgary is worth.

    4. You raise some very interesting possibilities here, Salamander. I think what I would like to do here is write up a post for tomorrow that takes extensively from our exchange on this topic, and invite wider commentary and discussion..

    5. Owen, I believe the Yiddish word that seems most appropriate here to to describe the worth of Harper's credentials is 'bupkis.'