Sunday, February 27, 2011

As We Sleep

Canadians keep saying they don't want an election. And the Prime Minister says he doesn't want one either, because things are going so well. We are a pretty lethargic and smug nation. Jeffrey Simpson writes in Saturday's Globe and Mail that

Another poll released this week showed that Canadians are right up there with the Swedes and Saudis as the world’s leading back-patters on how well their countries have done. That national self-congratulation is exactly what the Conservatives hope will put Canadians in a grateful mood come voting day.

But do the facts merit such self satisfaction? We are running the largest deficits in our history. We are about to spend billions on an airplane which experts say doesn't meet Canada's defence needs. We just chartered a plane to Libya and it came back empty. And the Prime Minister has told us that, even though one of his ministers misled Parliament,  it's alright because she made the right decision.

Then there is the case of the Prime Minister's recently retired Integrity Commissioner, Christiane Ouimete. During her tenure, she was asked to investigate 228 cases. She looked into seven.

The log shows that 42 of the cases involved alleged misuse of taxpayer dollars or government assets. Another 50 or so cases involved charges of what is listed as “gross mismanagement.” About 60 other allegations involved contraventions of Acts of Parliament.

After consulting with the Prime Minister's Office, she found that none of the 228 cases had merit. The Government's handling of arms length organizations -- whose job it is to act as a countervailing force on the government -- is instructive. From the Nuclear Safety Commission, to the Veterans Ombudsman, to Statistics Canada, it's clear that if the Prime Minister's line is questioned, the heads of those organizations will be replaced. The Integrity Commissioner retired after Sheila Fraser reported Ouimete wasn't doing her job. The government, however, was quite happy with her performance. She did not act as a countervailing force.

And, then there is the biggest countervailing force of all -- the Liberal Party of Canada. Gerry Nicholls, who claims to know how the Prime Minister thinks, writes that Mr. Harper wants to destroy the Liberals. Given the ads the Conservatives have been running, that does not appear to be a stretch.

It should be obvious by now that the Harper government has no respect for democratic institutions or rules. Like the governor of Wisconsin, Stephen Harper is committed to clearing a path for oligarchy. Unless we stop feeling so self satisfied, we may wake up after the next election to find that's exactly what we have.


ck said...

I hear you. Such misinformation passed and willingly believed. Furthermore, folks stubbornly wish to kept misinformed-they don't want to be educated.

Yesterday, I was listening to Tommy Schnurmacher's Friday Political panel. You should've heard some of the dumb reasoning of some of those callers. Callers defending their misinformedness. Two examples that stuck in my head were "Didi", a regular caller, who always whines about wanting English to take over Quebec again. Anyway, she said she was going to vote Conservative, because the (federal) Liberals didn't do enough to strike down Bill 101 and for Anglos in Quebec. The Liberal pundit, correctly, explained to her that it was up to her to take that up with the provincial gov't--not a federal matter. Furthermore, "Didi" claimed the Conservatives were the 'most honest' and 'had most integrity' and 'didn't care about what one MP did' The Liberal pundit also asked her how she felt about 2 unelected senators being involved in the illegal election spending in 2006--"Didi" wouldn't answer and Tommy, showing his Harpercon bias, protected her.

Another caller, forget his name, also said he was voting Conservative, because he's afraid of the 'evul coalition' and hadn't forgiven the Liberals in 2008 for hobbling that coalition together. I fear that Harper can get his majority largely in part because of the coalition fear.

What folks fail to realize is that Harper's Economic Action plan, however flawed, was thanks largely in part to that coalition. Were it not for them, there would've been no stimulus.

An elderly volunteer where I worked overheard a conversation between a coworker and myself in the cafeteria when we said we survived because of the safeguards Paul Martin had put into place. The volunteer interjected and called us liars. The coworker had a laptop and attempted to google the info to prove we were correct to the volunteer, the volunteer ran. He might as well have been covering his ears, singing "Doo wah diddy diddy!" at the top of his lungs.

Just last night, John Ibbitson penned a column about how great a Harper majority would be for the country!

The column was flawed, to say the least. If one took the time to read Lawrence Martin's Harperland, they would see this.

A myth going around with the cut in per vote subsidies and the like is because of Harper's desire to be rid of the Bloc Quebecois. The reality is, as Gerry Nicholls, Lawrence Martin in Harperland and yourself have pointed out is to be rid of the Liberals. According to Nicholls, Harper believes their demise is the best way for his neo-con Utopia to be realised--no centrist party. According to Martin, it's also about revenge, mainly against Trudeau and Chretien.

Once the Liberals are gone, The Bloc, as well as Quebec, remain insignificant to Harper--just a bunch of ol' leftie, soshalist Frenchies--could also provide the 'wining' conditions for a sovereignty referendum. Something I'm sure has not slipped the mind of Gilles Duceppe.

Here in lies one flaw in Ibbitson's argument--he says the Liberals can rebuild. Wrong! The Liberals would be decimated.

As for those Conservative voters--I wonder if it's not simply a case of they don't believe an Oligarchy would take place, but rather, that is exactly what they want to have happen.

I've noticed that many of these conservative supporters would give Oda a free ride. If she had been a Liberal, they would be screaming for her head on a silver platter. Likewise, if the Cons were responsible for an ADSCAM type of scandal, they would not only forgive right away--they would push for critics, to, well, shut-up!

Owen Gray said...

You know, ck, when I read what folks are saying -- on CJAD and other places -- it echoes what I used to hear when I was a kid growing up in Montreal.

Sometimes I wonder if, despite the Quiet Revolution -- at least in English Montreal -- much has changed.

From Laurier on down, it was clear that Quebec's best interests were always served by the Liberal Party. The party was far from perfect; and it could be ruthless.But Liberals understood Quebec and the rest and Canada.The Conservatives don't understand Quebec; and the BQ doesn't understand the rest of Canada.

Whatever their flaws, the fact remains that the Liberals can accomodate the whole country. The Harperites and the BQ can't or won't.

ck said...

You're probably right about much of Anglo Quebec. They did and do benefit from many of the programs born out of the Quiet Revolution, but they slam them. Hypocritical, eh?

Funny, how we see folks in the Middle-East all taking to the streets, fighting for democracy. In those few countries where there are elections held, folks go to the polls under the threat of life and limb.

Yet, Canadians tend to prove ungrateful by not exercising this right. I remembered when Ignatieff in the fall of 2009 said "Your time is up..." to Harper, the reaction of Canadians was quite vehement and they didn't want to take 5 minutes out of their day to fight while there are others in the world risking their lives for this right. Judging by polling numbers since then, the Liberals never recovered from that.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I've heard it all before "but, but, I'm not inspired!" Practically, they want their leaders performing death defying circus acts.

Somehow, those protesters in the Middle-East, I don't think they're necessarily looking for that great leader; that Inspiring leader. They're basically looking for democracy.

I remembered a Conservative by-election placard in the riding of Hochelaga. The slogan read "de l'action, pas d'election!" I don't believe it was copywriting stupidity for an instant. If Harper were to get that precious majority; what if he did take away free elections? Would the voters notice?

Another thing to remember--Hitler never called subsequent elections following his own.

Owen Gray said...

Elections are still unpredictable. And when they're unpredictable, when something is really on the line -- as in the two Quebec referendums -- people will get energized.

My hope is that, in the next federal election, Canadians will recognize that a lot is on the line.