Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Star readers weigh in with their usual perspicacity as they reflect on the message of Michael Harris' new book, Party of One: Stephen Harper and Canada’s Radical Makeover, discussed previously in this blog:
Is there a despot in the House? Insight Oct. 19
As journalist Michael Harris’ book points out, Canada has already undergone a sea change under Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s secretive, dominant rule. Soon the attack ads will try to convince us that we would be mad to trust anyone other than Harper’s steady hand at the tiller.
That he is leading us straight over a waterfall, especially in areas like climate change and biological sciences denial (think of the need for research in non-petroleum areas such as water pollution or the collapse of bee colonies) doesn’t concern us nearly enough.
Nor did Harper ever ask us if we wanted a 100-fold increase across the country in hazard fuel shipments, or, for that matter, American-style gun control. He just patiently escalated the former and whittled away at the latter.
The twin tragedies of Lac-Meganic and Moncton will be as much a part of his legacy as his accidental tightfistedness with expenditure. I say accidental, because he was intending to blow the wad on 65 F-35s and indenture us to American arms maker, Lockheed Martin.
Could it be that the Republican-style fear tactics used by these Tories will scare us off for voting for progressives at both the national and municipal level?
Ron Charach, Toronto
This book brings to mind the story: if a frog is placed in boiling water it will immediately jump out; but if it is placed in cool water and the heat slowly raised, the frog will sit there and die as it cooks.
This book brings to our attention that we Canadians are that frog and that the temperature of the water is rising. It is time to jump.
David Kister, Toronto
The Harper government’s narrow political agenda acts like a deaf, dumb and blind juggernaut ruthlessly wielding its power as if we Canadians and our democratic parliamentary system of governance are simply obstacles to be overcome.
Under Mr. Harper’s leadership we have witnessed the relentless erosion of our democracy, of our civil rights, our cherished reputation for fair and open elections, our influence as leaders on the world stage and most insidious of all, our belief in ourselves as citizens and the efficacy of civil participation.
His aggressive brand of partisanship ominously appears to have no bounds, nor his willingness to constrain or silence those not in agreement with his policies or initiatives. At risk are the institutions and values that are the very heart of who we are as a nation.
We cannot be side-tracked by our political differences or our disgust with politicians behaving badly or even fear of reprisal. Our silence is the Harper government’s greatest ally.
June Osborne, Camrose, Alta.
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
It is to be hoped that the closer we move to next year's election, more and more Canadians will be wagging their fingers at Stephen Harper for his various acts of destruction in this country. For now, let's enjoy the fact that this group is doing it for us:
An organization known for its efforts to improve scientific integrity within the U.S. government is taking aim at Prime Minister Stephen Harper over policies and funding cuts that it says are detrimental to Canadian public science.The letter, signed by over 800 academic researchers working outside of Canada,
In an open letter released Tuesday, the Union of Concerned Scientists urged Mr. Harper to lift a communications protocol that prevents federal researchers from speaking with journalists without approval from Ottawa. The letter also refers to barriers that it says inhibit collaboration with colleagues in the broader scientific community.
was released jointly with the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC), the union that represents more than 15,000 scientists employed within a range of government departments and agencies. It includes a reference to a PIPSC survey, conducted in 2013, which found that 90 per cent of more than 4,000 of the federal scientists who responded felt they could not speak freely about their work.Dennis Hansell, chairman of the Department of Ocean Sciences at the University of Miami and one of the signatories, said:
“As a global scientist I need Canadians to be involved so I can get my work done too. If there’s any threat to that, that’s a problem,” said Dr. Hansell, who is in the midst of proposing a project in the Arctic that would require the co-ordination of U.S., German and Canadian research teams.Much of the world seems aware of the autocracy and fear that exists in Canada. Let's hope that sufficient numbers of Canadian voters will soon become similarly enlightened.
UPDATE: Of course the Harper regime, used to such international disparagement, said black is white:
In a statement responding to the letter, Scott French, a spokesman for Ed Holder, minister of state for science and technology, said the government has made "record investments in science, technology and innovation."As usual, everyone else is wrong, and the Harper regime leads the world in all that is sacred and holy.
With regard to the freedom of federal scientists to communicate, French said, "While ministers are the primary spokespersons for government departments; scientists have, and are readily available to share their research with Canadians," he said. He added that federal departments and agencies produce over 4,000 science publications per year, including 700 peer-reviewed articles last year alone.
I often marvel at the ability of the Prime Minister and his minions to keep a straight face as they baldly lie to all of us. At least those lies came in for some much deserved mockery yesterday in the House of Commons:
Monday, October 20, 2014
Like the vampires of fiction who cling to the darkness as they carry out their nefarious, life-depleting ravages on human prey, the Harper regime best operates in the dark, away from the light of public scrutiny as it continues to suck the vitality out of our democracy. (Sorry for the lurid metaphor, but it does seem to be dramatically apt.) While it is a topic I have written about many times on this blog, I am sure I'm in good company when I say that only by bringing as many of these deeds into the light do we stand a chance of Canadians rejecting this perversion of government.
To that end, I would like to bring to your attention the following email I received from Democracy Watch, one of several NGO's that work tirelessly to promote the principles of open and accessible government as a way of promoting democratic principles and participation. After reading the missive, I hope you will consider signing the letter it talks about. The link is contained within the following text:
Since 2012, the federal Conservative government has been claiming to have an open government plan. In fact, every independent report has shown more excessive secrecy in the federal government than any time since the so-called Access to Information law passed in 1983.
The law is so weak it really should be called the “Guide to Keeping Government Information Secret” law.
Right now Conservative Cabinet minister Tony Clement is proposing a plan to the international Open Government Partnership that will only make already public information a bit more easily accessible.
This will do nothing to end secrecy that encourages waste, abuses and corruption – the law needs to be strengthened to require more transparency, with stronger enforcement and penalties for anyone who keeps information secret that the public has a right to know!
Please click here to send your letter now calling on the federal Conservatives, and governments across Canada, to make key changes to laws to open up government and make it more accountable to you.
Minister Clement and the Conservatives are only taking comments on their proposed plan for a very limited time – please send your message by next Monday, October 20th.
And please Share this with everyone you know – see more details set out below.
And please help keep this campaign going until these key changes to open up government are won. To donate now, please click here.
All together we can make difference!
Thank you very much for your support,
Duff, Tyler, Brad and Josephine
and all the volunteers across Canada who make Democracy Watch’s successful campaigns possible
In case you missed the story of yet another Harper-led CRA threat against charities that object to the regime's policies of environmental despoliation, you can read about it here, here, or here.