Tuesday, June 21, 2011

And So It Begins

True to its prime directive -- that the private sector can do anything better than government -- the Harper regime announced yesterday that it will close down Audit Services Canada, which -- according to The Globe and Mail --"bills itself as having 'a fifty year record of helping to improve public sector accountability and operations.'" What the announcement means is that 92 government auditors across Canada will lose their jobs and be replaced with an unspecified number of private contractors.

It's interesting -- and deeply revealing -- that the first job cuts made by this government  are to government auditors. This is the government which,  just two weeks ago, revealed that there was no paper trail to accompany G8 and G20 security costs. When John Baird and Tony Clement admitted to that "oversight," their defense was that they needed to expedite arrangements -- even those costs associated with Mr. Clement's riding.

And, yes, that would be the same Tony Clement who announced the death of Statistics Canada's long form census.  This is the same government which refused to offer complete cost estimates for its purchase of F35 jets and new federal prisons. This is the same government which insisted that reports on Afghan prisoners  not  be made in the usual way -- by memos to various government departments.

Perhaps Environment Minister Peter Kent will soon tell us that the government is trying to save trees. Stranger pronouncements have emerged from other ministers. But a pretty clear pattern has emerged over the last five years: This is a government which wants to leave no paper trails.

Evidence -- facts -- are this government's enemy. They undermine almost all of its policies. This is a government based on certain theological assumptions -- that unfettered markets are sacred; that social policy is an individual choice, not a communitarian one; that foreign policy is only credible if you can intimidate your rivals with hard power -- and that it's time to return to the strong and stable 1950's.

Never mind that the 1950's were neither strong nor stable. Never mind that they were dominated by paranoia and prejudice. For this Prime Minister --  born in 1959 -- they were a Golden Age. And so the march backwards begins.


Gaianicity said...

As the Harper government moves backward, the results of his policies impinge on the future. For example, his present support of the tar sands--the most destructive project on Earth--will accelerate humanity's race to a 4-degree C world. In that event, Britain's Tyndall Centre estimates that only one in 20 will survive.

Apparently Harper believes he will be one of the 20.

At what point does stupidity become criminal?

Owen Gray said...

An excellent question. But one has to assume -- given Bruce Carson's rise as one of Mr. Harper's fixers and the new "tough on crime" agenda -- that this government defines crime as what others do.

Gaianicity said...

As Harper moves back to the fifties, unfortunately the world moves forward trying to cope with the consequences of his policies.

For example,the international community several times has voted his environment policy the worst in the world. He has consistently worked to prevent the success of international climate negotiations. This son of an Imperial Oil executive, has provided billions of dollars of taxpayers' money to support Alberta's Tar Sands--the most destructive development on Earth. Rivers have been polluted, carbon emissions have soared, the health of aboriginals has been ignored, Ontario's economy, tied to our petrodollar, has suffered massive job losses, renewable energy development has been forestalled.

More than any other individual on the planet, he has led the charge towards a 4 degree C world. Britain's Tyndall Centre estimates that such a world will support at maximum 500 million people.

At what point does stupidity become criminal?

London barrister Polly Higgins wants Ecocide to be recognized by the UN as the fifth Crime against Peace, under the of the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. http://www.thisisecocide.com/

Harper sees Earth as a place where resources are available for commercial exploitation. He either ignores or rejects his role as a steward of Earth with a duty of care to protect it. For Polly Higgins, this is a sacred trust and Ecocide is a law of strict liability. What counts is not what you intend by your actions, but rather their consequences.

If Higgins proposal is accepted by the General Assembly, in all probability Harper would find himself as a defendant before the International Criminal Court.

I suspect many Canadians would say the sooner the better.

Owen Gray said...

I'm glad you mentioned the Higgins proposal. It sets up an entirely different yardstick by which to measure government accountability.

Harper claims that he stands for government accountability. He has failed on that score, even by his own definition.