When historians eventually get around to rendering judgement on the Harper Government, they will point to many things. They will certainly cite the gutting of Statistics Canada. Jeffrey Simpson writes:
In the summer of 2010, more than 200 institutions and individuals asked Stephen Harper’s government not to eliminate the long-form census.
They represented a Who’s Who of experts in statistics. All sorts of groups, from B’nai Brith to business associations and trade unions, argued that the long-form census, which required some, but only some, citizens by law to answer questions for Statistics Canada, was essential for presenting the most accurate statistical profile of Canadians.
To no avail. The Prime Minister had made up his mind. His hapless minister, Tony Clement, had to toe the line. He did so in such a way as to misstate the true views of the head of Statistics Canada, who resigned in protest.
But perhaps, more than anything else, the judgement of history will hinge on the Fair Elections Act and how -- once again -- the government paid no heed to its critics:
As Prof. Paul Thomas of the University of Manitoba (and a member of the Elections Canada advisory board) pointed out in a paper he wrote about the proposed changes, Britain’s electoral commission was extensively consulted before changes to the law. Here, Mr. Poilievre said he spent an hour with Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand before drafting the bill. Obviously, he did not highly value Mr. Mayrand’s analysis during their brief meeting, since the Chief Electoral Officer just dumped all over important parts of the bill before the parliamentary committee.
Up to this point, there is no one piece of legislation which better defines the Harperites. And there is no better spokesman for them than Pierre Poilievre:
This is how the government is proceeding, led by Minister for Democratic Reform Pierre Poilievre, a young man who leaped into the cabinet principally for his leather-lunged abilities at partisan verbal jousting. Anyone who believes Mr. Poilievre can act on just about anything without the interests of the Conservative Party at heart has not been observing his career thus far. Unbridled partisanship has its place in politics, one supposes, but not for updating elections law.
The Harperites have never been concerned with governing. Their objective has always been to rig the system in their favour. And, when historians eventually take their measure, my bet is that the present government will be in the running for the worst government in Canadian history.