Monday, June 04, 2012

God On His Side

Canadians have long held that Church and State are separate entities. Pierre Trudeau and Brian Mulroney -- both Catholics -- were instrumental in legalizing abortion. Perhaps they felt, like many Catholics, that they were not bound by each and every papal pronouncement. Or perhaps they personally held to the tenets of their faith, but felt it was not their job to legislate church doctrine.

 When it comes to Stephen Harper -- particularly when it comes to environmental policy and science in general -- one has to wonder. Ray Grigg cites a previous piece by the Alberta journalist Andrew Nikiforuk:

Because the Prime Minister will not publicly discuss his religious views, Nikiforuk's conclusions are conjectural. But the Prime Minister is known to belong to an Alberta fundamentalist Protestant church that espouses "evangelical climate skepticism". Nikiforuk contends that this church holds seven tenets which "not only explain startling developments in Canada but should raise the hair on the neck of every thinking citizen regardless of their faith: 1. Disdain for the environmental movement, 2. Distrust of mainstream science in general, 3. Distrust of the mainstream media, 4. Loyalty to the party, 5. Libertarian economics as God's will (God is opposed to government regulation or taxation), 6. Misunderstanding of divine sovereignty (God won't allow us to ruin creation), 7. Unreconstructed Dominion theology (God calls on humans to subdue and rule creation)."

Given the changes in the Omnibus Budget Bill, one has to wonder if Harper labours under the misplaced faith that God will not let us befoul creation:

A mere sample is staggering: no funding for the Polar Environment Arctic Research Laboratory, the definitive and authoritative monitor of northern climate change; withdrawal of financial support for the Kluane Research Station, a 50-year project studying high-latitude ecological changes; the slashing of almost all marine pollution monitoring; and dissolution of the National Round Table on Environment and Economy, the only institution that attempts to find sustainable business options that are satisfactory to both industry and environmentalists. Despite arguing austerity, the government found an additional $8 million of scarce money for Revenue Canada to more closely monitor environmental charities to be certain excessive funds are not being used for "political" advocacy. "Nearly half of the budget implementation bill," writes [Elizabeth] May, "is directed at re-writing Canada's foundational environmental laws." This includes the Fisheries Act, the Species at Risk Act, the Navigable Waters Protection Act and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. Decisions once based on public processes guided by science now move to ministerial discretion.

President Kennedy, in his inaugural address, famously alluded to Isaiah when he declared, "God's work on earth must truly be our own." The problem is that history is full of religious zealots who claimed that God sanctioned ignorance and stupidity. It has never been God's work to burn witches or declare war on heathens. In fact, it has never been God's work to declare war of any kind -- on heathens, on science or the environment.

But, then, history was never Stephen Harper's strong suit. For him, perhaps faith trumps history. Perhaps he really believes that God is on his side.

This entry is cross posted at Eradicating Ecocide.


Anonymous said...

Or perhaps Stephen Harper actually believes himself to be that actual same deity, which is why he believes he is accountable and answerable to no one but himself.

Harper seems to be manipulating and modifying Canadian policies which seem to fit in with his own version of reality, which is frightening to say the least.

I've just finished reading a book on the comparisons between Hitler and Stalin. Let's just say, some of Stephen Harper's policies are not too dissimilar. ie restrictions of the press, manipulations of votes, labor laws tying citizens to their jobs, the gutting of scientific programs which did not fit in with political ideology.

Owen Gray said...

Harper wouldn't be the first man to claim divine stature.

One can hope that, like so many of his predecessors, history will send him to the dustbin.

Anonymous 2 said...

This is scary stuff, like Hitler's belief he was Germany incarnate before he plunged the world into war, or George Bush's "talks with God" before his disastrous invasion of Iraq. I hope it isn't true.

Owen Gray said...

Yes it is scary stuff, Anon 2 -- because Harper refuses to acknowledge any limits to his power.

That is why the 60% of Canadians who didn't vote for him -- and the 8% who are apparently changing their minds -- must object loudly.

The only way to send Harper to the dustbin is for the majority of Canadians to vote him out of office.

The Mound of Sound said...

Got Mitt Uns, indeed.

I watched Trudeau explain his abortion reform. He acted in reflection of a nation deeply and roughly equally divided over abortion. He knew he'd be castigated by both sides for seeking some middle ground and he was. Yet he chose to act on principle rather than kicking the can down the road as today's leader would.

To the Left, truth is found in demonstrated fact which is why it's never absolute. To the far Right, like our current tyro, truth is founded on belief regardless of fact which is why it is forever absolute.

Owen Gray said...

I'm always fascinated, Mound, by the Right's lack of humility. If we learn as we go, truth should unfold with time.

I suppose that, if you believe all truth was revealed on two tablets, or in an Old and New Testament -- and leave an unfolding universe out of the equation -- then everything is absolute.

It seems to me that an acquaintance with human frailty would suggest that absolutes are hard to come by.

sunsin said...

An acquaintance with human frailty is precisely why they cling to their immutable absolutes. These are very fearful people.

Owen Gray said...

That's an interesting insight, sunsin. They fear what they can't control. And life being what it is, that means most things are out of their control.

Anonymous said...

It's said. Harper is no Conservative. He is a Neo-Nazi Reformer of, his Northern Foundation Party from 1989. They said, the skinheads assisted to organize that party.

Hitler made a law, there was no other political party permitted in Germany. Only the Nazi Party was allowed. Do I think Harper would do the same, yes I would.

Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini and Harper, all have the same typo personalities. Control is paramount. The media is muzzled first. Then they take control of everything, they can get their hands on. All of them cheated, lied and deceived to win. Harper is trying to quash the robo-call investigation. I think we all know why he had to cheat to win. Over half of Canadians did not want Harper as P.M....he knew it, he cheated. Now over 2/3 and counting citizens, don't want Harper.

Harper needs to be tried for treason, and thrown into one of his stalags, for life. Harper has so many lawsuits against him, it's disgusting.

Owen Gray said...

One hopes that Canadians will finally see Stephen Harper for who he is, Anon.

The world has seen his ilk before.

kirbycairo said...

I suppose that one thing the Harpercons have learned from the political situation in the US is to stay as silent as possible about these kinds of religious opinions. However, one thing that has been curious to me is the remarkably poor job that the media has done in really bringing these to light. I know that the media is overwhelmingly pro-Harper, but it seems that in a context in which they need to sell their news, the over-riding motivation would be the need to "put bums in the seats," as they say, and these kinds of stories would be meaty enough to talk about for the sake of the attention they would garner.

The US media would certainly expose these things. But what we seen to have now in Canada is a strange amalgam of increasingly US style politics with little of the media scrutiny that goes along with it. The fact that, for example, the media has almost never talked about the incredible incompetence of Jim Flaherty as the Finance MInister of Ontario, or exposed John Baird's sexual orientation begin to look like strange gaps in a political milieu of Harper's theme of hate and anger.

I suspect that eventually these guys will become the victims of the very monster to which they have given birth - a classical narrative served up to people who have never read Euripides or Shakespeare.

Owen Gray said...

If they had read Euripides or Shakespeare, Kirby, they would display some humility.

Like the folks who believed that the housing bubble would never burst, they seem convinced that the Wheel of Fortune will never turn.