Friday, October 04, 2013

Consumers First. Really?

John Ivison recently reported that the Harper government is going to announce a "Consumers First" agenda in the upcoming throne speech. Rick Smith writes that, if there is one person the Harper government hasn't stood up for, it's the consumer:

Guided by the idea that Ottawa needs to get out of the way of business, Harper has been trumpeting the mantra of red-tape cutting since first elected in 2006.
What this has really meant are cuts to safety inspections and costly adherence to the wisdom of deregulation. Hardly the building blocks of a “consumers first” agenda.

The Harper years are riddled with examples of business making victims of consumers:

Take food safety. Who could forget Canada’s largest-ever beef recall last fall. People across the country became sick from the E. coli outbreak after consuming tainted meat produced at a federally regulated facility in Brooks, Alberta. The government’s own post-mortem of the XL Foods Ltd. recall shone the light on a food-safety system that had failed.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency failed to notice during routine inspections that the plant had not properly implemented or regularly updated its own plan to control risks. The massive facility — 430,000 square feet in total — slaughtered between 3,800 and 4,000 cattle daily.

The beef recall came months after the Conservative government tabled a budget that cut $56 million from the food agency’s operating resources over a three-year period.

And there is the matter of rail safety:

Though more the inheritors than the architects of Canada's reckless rail-safety deregulation, the Harper Conservatives ignored repeated warnings about the folly of allowing the railway industry to police itself.

A Canada Safety Council report issued in 2007 called the deregulated industry "a disaster waiting to happen" and criticized the government's abrogation of its responsibility to public safety and the environment.

And disaster did strike, when aging rail cars with inaccurately labeled hazardous materials exploded in Lac M├ęgantic, Quebec claiming 47 lives, eviscerating the core of the town at immeasurable cost to the community and at a monetary cost of close to a billion dollars.

With their single-minded focus on getting oil to market, Canada has seen massive increases in the amount of oil being shipped by rail — from 500 carloads in 2009, to a projected 140,000 this year. The Harper government is apparently content to continue to expose Canadians and our environment to unnecessary risk.

Mr. Harper is desperate to take the focus off his wayward senators and the sputtering economy. So, like the practised magician he is, he will try to create a diversion.

Will we sit through this act again?


Anonymous said...

Harper may be a practiced magician, but he's not a very good one. He has impressed his simple base and those in the audience who were not paying attention.

But now more and more people are paying attention to the inept performance. They are beginning to leave the theatre, and some are even asking for a refund.

A another poorly executed trick will certainly entertain the base, but the larger audience is getting bored and restless.

Owen Gray said...

It's even possible that some of the audience are stuffing their pockets with rancid vegetables, Anon.

And they're getting ready to throw them.

Anonymous said...

We see Harper permitting American Police to operate, on our Canadian soil. We see Harper is working on bringing our cost of living, to the Americans cost of living. Obama is trying to have his Health Plan, in line with Canada's Health Plan. However, we do know Harper is chopping away at our plan.

Then there was the article on, Harper and Obama's NAU. Mexico too, was to be in the NAU. The three amigos had many secret meetings, on this issue. I believe it is Mexico's crime rate of, their uncontrolled drug cartels murders and violence, could be the reason Mexico wasn't mentioned this time.

Owen Gray said...

It's a sure bet that there's a lot Harper doesn't want us to know, Anon.

The less we know, the longer he gets to stay in office.

Feverish said...

Perhaps our sub-prime minister is simply employing another tactic in his quest.

After calling for the abolishment of the senate and downsizing of government he is now padding the case for these goals by making them such a joke that the CDN people will see the logic of his truly noble task: To make Canada unrecognizable when he is finished with his mandate.

Owen Gray said...

Just as Hitler used his own troops to attack Germany from Poland, Feverish, Harper has declared war on the Senate by appointing people who practice Upper Chamber malfeasance.

It's all an inside job.