Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Some Disturbing Signs

I won't for a moment pretend that I am not glad to see Justin Trudeau's Liberals as our new government. But as happened with a vice-principal we teachers once welcomed with open arms as a relief from the previous administration, my early hopes for real change and integrity of purpose are being steadily eroded.

Let's start with Stephane Dion, our foreign affairs minister. As pointed out yesterday in a post by The Mound, he has quickly condemned the appointment of Canadian Michael Lynk as the United Nation's Special Rapporteur on human rights in Palestine following pressure brought to bear against him on apparently groundless accusations of being biased against Israel. So much for any hopes that Canada would take a more balanced, less reflexively supportive approach to Israel.

Then there is Dion's refusal to reconsider the Saudi arms deal, despite that country's abysmal human-rights record and terrible incursion in Yemen as it leads a coalition to stop the Shiite rebels known as Houthis. This has led to massive starvation resulting in the malnutrition and deaths of about 1.3 million children, including little Udai, who succumbed at the age of five months:

There are growing disappointments domestically as well. One of them, as The Star's Carol Goar points, is the failure to act expeditiously in ending the Harper-initiated CRA witch hunts against charities:
Trudeau pledged to “end the political harassment of charities” by the Canada Revenue Agency — not wind it down gradually, not keep hounding charities that ran afoul of the previous Conservative government to preserve the independence of the agency’s charities directorate.

Revenue Minister Diane Lebouthillier quietly changed the plan. She allowed the 24 ongoing audits to take their course in case “serious deficiencies” were found. When they were completed, she would end CRA’s political activities auditing program. The affected charities — which include Oxfam Canada, Environmental Defence and Canada Without Poverty — remain on tenterhooks.
As well, Tim Harper points out a reversal of a stance the Liberals took while in opposition:
When the former Conservative government agreed to hand over private banking information of Canadians to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, the Liberals led the growing chorus of indignation.

Their opposition started meekly but built. They tried to amend the law, which they portrayed as a loss of sovereignty and an unnecessary bow to American pressure. They accused Conservatives of breaching Canadians’ charter rights and unconstitutionally discriminating against Canadians based on their country of origin.
Now that they are the government, however, the Liberals are singing from a different hymn book:
Then they went silent. Then they were elected and now they defend the agreement they once vilified.

The first 155,000 information slips on Canadians with U.S. roots were shipped to the IRS on schedule last Sept. 30, in the middle of the election campaign when Washington told the Canada Revenue Agency it was not eligible to ask for an extension of the order.
And Canada's much-vilified temporary foreign workers program is getting new life under our new administration. Thomas Walkom reports
Justin Trudeau’s Liberals are tiptoeing back into the minefield that is Canada’s temporary foreign workers program.

They are doing so carefully. This month’s decision to relax the rules for seasonal industries wishing to hire cheap foreign labour was not publicly announced.

Instead, the information — that such industries will be able to hire unlimited numbers of temporary foreign workers for up to 180 days a year — seeped out through the media.
This move, of course, will simply facilitate and extend low-paying jobs that Canadians refuse to do instead of allowing pressure for better wages to mount on employers in fish-processing, child care (nannies in particular), and Canadian resorts.

There have been other disappointments as well, one of which I wrote about recently pertaining to Chrystia Freeland's thinly veiled enthusiasm for CETA, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement. Disingenuously, the International Trade Minister extolled its benefits while ignoring the severe challenges it will pose to both our sovereignty and our workforce.

There is much that the Liberals have thus far accomplished; perhaps our proudest moment in recent history has been our remarkable achievement of bringing over so many Syrian refugees in such a short period of time, an achievement that has won world-wide admiration. But doubtless there is more disillusionment in store for Canadians as they rediscover ours is a world that too often inflicts both political and personal disenchantment upon even the most optimistic.

When all is said and done, our final evaluation of this government's first term in office will have to revolve around whether its accomplishments outweigh those disappointments.


  1. You pretty well outlined what has also disappointed me with the liberals Lorne. Some of them are of real concern such as supporting the conservative motion by approving the Anti-BDS, the handing over of Canadians private banking info to the IRS and the worst one I think is the deal with the Saudi's. The destruction and death the Saudis are inflicting in Yemen should stop any country from doing deals with them.Also their support of Anti- BDS and sending Canadians banking info to the IRS is a violation of Canadians freedom of speech rights in the former and in the latter a violation of Canadians privacy rights. It seems when it comes to pleasing a foreign power like Israel and The US, this accommadating takes precedents over Canadians rights.There seems to be a pattern showing that Canadian rights are not a priority in the liberals decision making.We still have Bill C-51, CETA and the TPP to be dealt with. All of these involve Canadian rights in a major way. I no longer feel secure that our government when negotiating these deals, will not allow our rights and sovereignty to be violated.

    1. I think that all of us can benefit from taking a respectful but critical approach to our new government, Pamela. As with the previous regime, the Trudeau Liberals have to be consistently held to account. To do anything less is to invite abuses equal to or worse than what we all experienced under the Harper cabal.

  2. As Harper sought to emulate the Republicans, Trudeau seems intent on morphing the Liberals into something akin to the Democrats. His unqualified support of Israel, his backing for Saudi Arabia, support of the Tories' BDS motion, the continuation of the surveillance state, globalized trade, pipeline projects, continued persecution of charities and a laughable promise to slash GHG emissions while rapidly expanding the petro-state remind me of Obama at the moment of his election and how he would up perpetuating, even expanding a lot of the worst of Bush/Cheney in the following eight years. Neoliberalism's hold on Canada is safe with the Liberals at the wheel and the NDP still sulking in the backseat.

    1. One wonders where realistic change is to be found, Mound. I know that the Green Party has a different approach, but I fear that their fringe status is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future.

  3. Pamela and your self have summed it up well Lorne, Government.... ALL governments must all be held to account for their actions and not only at the ballot box every 4 years. I do hope the Libs 'smarten up ' on the above issues!

    1. Once they get over this prolonged 'honeymoon phase,' Rural, I hope people hold the Liberals as accountable as they did the Harper regime. It seems like public awareness and reaction gives us our best chance to have an impact between elections.