Canada was not meant to be just another star on the American flag
To the Expositor:
When Harper stole the reins of the federal Progressive Conservatives—a coup that he managed with the help of one Peter McKay—he ridded the party of the “Progressive” part of its name and platform and melded it along with the Reform Party into what is now the Conservative Party of Canada.
The Conservative Party, under Harper, has often been rightly compared to the American Republican party. With two Omnibus bills: the one 425 pages long and the other 457 pages, a total of 1,269 clauses used to amend 133 unrelated laws, and very little Parliamentary debate permitted, Harper’s Conservatives showed a clear disdain for and total abandonment of any commitment to Parliamentary democracy as we have known it in Canada. Rule by fiat; might is right have become the dictum of the Harper Conservative party. Ideologically driven, its principle aim is simple: to serve its primary constituency, the very wealthy and the corporate sector leadership. They have done so by dismantling decades of environmental legislation, removing any troublesome research from within government and funding only industry friendly research that these industries previously had to fund themselves. Though these corporations are sitting on larger cash reserves than ever before, we the taxpayers are now funding their research while they still do not spend their reserves on job creation initiatives.
It’s called corporate welfare. It’s funded by Canadian taxpayers. It has kept Big Oil grinning from ear to ear.
This supposedly sound fiscal manager wiped out the surplus we had when they came into office and has now strapped us with the largest public debt in Canadian history. Claiming we should have joined the US in Iraq when George W. lied as to the world as to why we should join the US in inflicting the death and destruction it did, Harper’s Conservatives have now committed Canada to war in Iraq and in all likelihood Syria after helping the US bomb Libya and leave it in the chaotic mess it is now in. Send our troops off to war, publicly praise the fallen on Remembrance Day and minimally address the needs of those who return with post-traumatic challenges.
Many in the US claim it is time to go to war in Iran, again others there say it is time to go join the war in the Ukraine. The US has just the other day declared Venezuela a threat off their shores that has to be dealt with. Will Harper simply tell us we have to follow suit?
The public discourse of US Republicans and Harper Conservatives are extremely similar. Corporate taxes are bad. Public initiatives are costly and bad. The market must be left to its own devices. Unions are bad. Marginalise anything public in favour of the privately-run, of self-interest. More deregulation. Less public oversight. More punishment. More prisons. No more annual meetings with provincial Premiers. Chastise our Supreme Court for doing the job our Constitution expects of it when its calls run contrary to our PM’s wants.
Mobilize sectors of the population which have always been there but were never mobilized into an organized political force: (i) evangelical Christians, (ii) extreme nationalists, (iii) dyed in the wool partisan Conservatives, (iv) the worried who are too busy trying to make ends meet to keep abreast of what is happening particularly when key legislative changes get no air time in either Parlaiment or the media and (v) those who have been inspired to fear the ones the government tells them to fear—whoever “that” may happen to be and if you wonder who that is this month, we’ll tell you who once either Washington or Tel Aviv tell us who.
Fear. It has been and remains an effective technique used over and over again in the US and increasingly so here under the Conservatives. And right now, under Harper, there is a common strategic concern underlying it. It is pretty much that which US intelligence analyzes is best for the US and for Israel. Right now we are told we need Bill C-51 to protect us: a Bill that four former prime ministers, ex-premiers, 100 law professors from across Canada and Louise Arbour, a former Justice of the Supreme Court—to name but a few—tell us is not in our best interest. A Bill that the experts have clearly told us can compromise and override our hard won rights and freedoms in our Canadian Charter of Rights if the ‘powers-that-be’ deem it fitting. The foundations of the Charter of Rights were set in place by John Diefenbaker a “Progressive” Conservative and entrenched by Pierre Trudeau.
Bill C-51’s reach extends far beyond the “terrorists” we are told to fear as today’s threat “to our way of life”: words stolen directly from the US playbook.
With George Orwell’s ‘1984’ fast becoming a reality in Canada, we would be well to heed Louise Arbour’s warning that while you may not see yourself as the enemy today, depending on the stand you take on certain questions, you may well be the one the state goes after tomorrow. And with your Charter Rights compromised by Bill C-51, who will be there to speak up for you?
While 30 percent of all Canadians are happy to see our Conservatives in the same camp as US Republicans, the majority of Canadians, two-thirds of us, take no joy in the comparison.
The Canada that two out of every three Canadians are looking for—whether they be Liberals, New Democrats, Greens or “orphaned Progressive Conservatives” such as Joe Clark (who can’t stand Harper)—is the Canada which was built on open and transparent parliamentary dialogue, a healthy balance between the left and the right, a social conscience, a fair distribution of wealth and a belief in a healthy balance between an effective public service and private enterprise and a good one payer public health care system as opposed to one that sees many of its citizens go without.
Canada was not meant to be just another star on the US flag. We were respected around the world as a fair country. We earned that reputation and shouldn’t let Harper’s ideological bent and dictatorial approach to government render it all meaningless. As Ken Dryden said: “I want my Canada back.”