Monday, May 11, 2015

From The Bottom Up


It's no secret that Stephen Harper hates government. For almost a decade, he has worked maniacally to reduce the size and the scope of the federal government. At the same time, he has steadfastly refused to meet with the premiers. Somewhere along the line, he forgot that Canada is a federation. And, in the end, he may well have spawned a reaction he didn't foresee.

Christopher Waddell writes that the NDP victory in Alberta may point the way to a massive shift in how Canada is governed:

So, in reality, the NDP Alberta victory has created an unprecedented situation at a time when the federal government has vacated the field of policy-making. Whether it is in energy, health care, environment and climate change, social services, transportation, infrastructure or pensions (just to name a few), the field is virtually wide open for the three provinces to implement joint policies that can completely undermine or counter whatever the federal government may want to do.

Together, Ontario, Alberta and Quebec collectively are the home of 73 per cent of Canada’s population, produce 74 per cent of Canada’s gross domestic product, are responsible for 71 per cent of Canada’s energy exports, 70 per cent of all Canada’s merchandise exports and about 80 per cent of our imports by dollar value.

If the three provinces decide they want to do something together on economic policy, taxation, social policy or anything else, either the rest of the country jumps on board or is left behind. 

Quebec and Ontario have already signaled their intention to establish a cap and trade system:

A broader collective effort by the three on climate change could both make progress on the issue and soften both opposition to the pipeline and some of the damage done by the Harper government’s reputation on climate change.

Equally valuable could be the development of a national energy strategy that looks at what we produce, what we export and how we sell it, designed to ensure all three provinces maximize their returns, particularly in the US market. If Alberta, Ontario and Quebec started down this path, how long would it be before British Columbia and Newfoundland jumped on board, again despite Ottawa’s unwillingness to participate?

If the Harper government continues to block attempts to improve the Canada Pension Plan, the three provinces could respond with their own supplementary system much as Ontario is starting to do.

Not happy with the new prostitution law, mandatory minimum sentences or other changes in the Harper government’s pandering to the “tough on crime” crowd? Collectively the provinces could take the federal government to court to overturn laws they believe are detrimental to the administration of justice and the criminal justice system. On past performance, the federal government is a consistent loser whenever it is challenged this way.

Mr. Harper believes that the world is organized from the top down. Canadians could be staging a coup -- from the bottom up.


Toby said...

Interesting thesis, Owen.

What Harper likes is government that is all about him. Prancing about in front of the troops probably makes his toes curl. Allowing Premiers to share his stage is just not on.

Things were sort of okay with Harper that Quebec and Ontario were going their own way; he doesn't like them anyway. Now that Alberta is also doing this Harper could be forced to sit up and take notice. He just might see his empire crumbling, if he wasn't out prancing in front of the troops.

Owen Gray said...

I suspect that Harper really hasn't given much thought to any of the provinces, Toby.

And his neglect of them will come back to haunt him.

Mogs Moglio said...

Christopher Waddell I like it The Big Three can run Canada from within and ignore Mr. Dressup Harper...

Sorry for the lengths of the links :) Mogs

Owen Gray said...

Perhaps because of their length, I can't bring up the links, Mogs.

Pamela Mac Neil said...

As Mulcair once said about Harper "He likes the power, he doesn't like to govern." His lack of policy making, while reducing the size and scope of the federal government is a prelude to his neoliberal agenda. His policies are neoliberal in nature.Do severe financial cut backs to programs like health, so that they become almost unworkable, then privatize. Right now his neoliberal strategy is in process. Through austerity he is laying the groundwork for privatizing social programs. He needs more time. If he gets 4 more yrs, we will see him actually create his neoliberal policies of privatizing social programs. It's Probably the main reason he wants to and will do anything to stay in power, that along with his pursuit of tyranny. This was an interesting post Owen, it showed that Canadians have options provincially.

Toby said...

Mogs' links worked for me. They all show Harper in costume, three in military uniform, one with Indian war bonnet and one with cowboy hat.

Mogs Moglio said...

Well sorry Owen they are ridiculous pictures of Harper dressed in Army uniforms many of them Air Force uniforms Cowboys and First Nations Chief's headdress complete with war paint on his face. Kids usually play dress up but we now know beyond the shadow of a doubt Harper has grown up but never matured.

Do a google search on: "Stephen Harper as mr dress up" and you will find allot of them. So delete my other links.

Next do this google search:

"Stephen Harper dressed in military uniforms"

It just may give your laugh of the day maybe we can laugh Steve out of office. The heave Steve movement is gaining traction.

What about his latest stupidity? If you boycott Israel or their goods and services its going to become a "Hate Crime" not kidding.

There is no end to Steve's inanity. PS he did this because Benji ordered him to do it.


Owen Gray said...

I noted the Israel story, Mogs. The man is obsessive.

Owen Gray said...

Perhaps the problem is in my computer, Toby, not in Mog's links.

Owen Gray said...

Exactly, Pam. There are options for those who disagree with Harper's policies.

Dana said...

One of the handiest free www tools ever created.

Just enter the eternally long url you have and this little program will shorten it up.

The Mound of Sound said...

It's not government he hates, Owen, it's liberal democracy. He despises representative democracy restrained by the principles of liberalism. The very essence of liberal democracy is the protection of indivdual rights as against the government. The instruments of this are a consitution, some bill of rights and freedoms and an independent judiciary. Harper hates the Charter. He loathes the Supreme Court.

Harper is fine with illiberal democracy where you get to vote and it doesn't matter. That's the very sort of government he imposes on us - slightly despotic; secretive, manipulative and utterly unaccountable.

Owen Gray said...

And while he's destroying our democratic institutions, Mound, he trumpets his patriotism.

Owen Gray said...

Thanks, Dana. Who says you can't learn something everyday?

Scotian said...

1st point, MoS is in my view exactly right about Harper.

2nd point, this was a part of what I meant when I said Harper is a threat to the long term survival of Canada as a nation, even more so than the Quebecois Separatists were. We are, despite what so very many still do not grasp, a very loose knit Confederation. We are far less tightly controlled centrally than most nations. Therefore when you have a central government doing all it can to undermine the powers of that central authority and abrogating its role within the Confederation approach to governing Canada you risk dissolution by the more powerful Provinces going their own way or teaming up and initiating "national policy" from their end forcing the rest over time to tag along, despite the rest of the nation's citizens getting no vote, no say on such policy, as opposed to when it is done by the federal state. That goes to an important point at the heart of the legitimacy of power and authority within a governing system, ESPECIALLY a democratic one, and while yes dry and technical stuff still is rather fundamentally important.

To be honest Owen this post of yours scares me more than a little precisely for that second point I laid out.

Owen Gray said...

I understand your concern, Scotian. And I'm sure that John A. Macdoanld would share it.

Macdonald understood how a federation could fall apart. He'd been watching the United States do that. That's why he insisted on the overall authority of the federal government.

Harper claims he is a Conservative. But Macdonald wouldn't recognize him. Unfortuately, Harper has no use for history and the lessons it teaches.

Scotian said...

One of the main reasons I stay commenting at your blog Owen is that you DO understand my concerns and see them for what they truly are, something I find not so many do these days, especially those too concerned with naked partisanship to understand the fears of a person whose first partisanship is the process itself. Your clear understanding of history, especially our history also helps in no small part. I get so tired at times trying to get people to understand WHY process issues are so important, that while not as "sexy" as things like abortion, socon policy wars, and so forth, that they are in some fairly key ways even more important. For if you do not have a healthy stable process/system in which to have these discussions/disagreements, where the legitimacy of the process assures that there will be acceptance of an outcome even by those that disagree with the result but because it went through a fair process accept it, you do not have a stable system of government itself, at least not one that can be fairly considered any form of democratic one.

I fully agree with you on how Macdonald would view Harper and his tribe, it is after all why I have never called them Tories, always CPCers or Harperites, because I KNOW the difference. When it comes to process issues I am in many ways a old school Tory/conservative (I am a true mix of old Toryism, Liberal, and old NDP values overall, part of what makes me a swing unaligned centrist), believing that we must make such changes with thought and care, not willy-nilly (which is also why I support ranked ballot over PR as a first step in changing voting practices). I was good with Trudeau's repatriation and Charter because he made sure to send it through the Provincial legislatures as well as his own Parliament, and because I recognized the need to protect the citizen from the near unlimited authority the federal government had over our basic rights and freedoms, as witnessed by the 1970 use of the War Measures Act.

Indeed, for most of the last decade I have been saying near daily prayers of thanks to PET for this action because it has been the only true protection we have had from the clear preference of the Harper government to fundamentally redesign Canada into a very different nation for he and his to rule without end. You, like I, an old enough to remember that before the Charter rights could be stripped away from any citizen by legislative fiat without real recourse anywhere, and given what you have seen from the Harper government just what do you think we would have had if THOSE rules were still the powers of a majority government, as opposed to what we have today?

It was because I grew up watching these things that I learned to place such value of process issues before all else, too bad more people my age missed that, we might have prevented this horror from happening if they had.

Owen Gray said...

With Harper it's an old story, Scotian: The end justifies the means.

He cares only about outcomes and nothing for the means by which they are reached.

Scotian said...

I do not entirely agree Owen, I think he does care about the means, in as much as those mean are to be as damaging, as corrosive, and as able to be the political equivalent of salting the scorched earth as possible. Harper could not be as dangerous were he not understanding what he is trying to destroy, that is in no small part why I find him so incredibly dangerous and an "at all costs" objective for a decade now. Aside from that I agree with you about ends and means with Harper.

Owen Gray said...

I agree that Harper is absolutely focused on his "mission," as he sees it, Scotian.

What makes him different is his commitment to that mission. Opposition parties, the courts -- as far as he is concerned, nothing and no one will get in his way.

Mogs Moglio said...

"The end justifies the means."

Owen and Scotian my literature teacher taught us not to use a cliche in writing. But with the Harper reform alliance cons sometimes we can be at a loss of words. So we resort to that. I am not judging you Owen far from it I enjoy your blog that is why I keep revisiting.

Scotian sounds like you are from the same generation as myself and had allot of similar experiences and realizations. Cheers brothers Cheers.

Mogs Moglio

Toby said...

It really is all about Harper. If Harper were to suddenly be removed (politically, medical, whatever) his plans and the CPC would fall apart. There is no one else able to step into his shoes. My guess is that most of the CPC has no idea what he is up to.

Owen Gray said...

It sounds like Jason Kenny is more than willing to try and fill Harper's shoes, Toby. Whether or not he's capable of doing that is an open question.

Toby said...

Yes, Owen, Jason Kenny would like to be PM. He is sly enough as a Harper henchman but it is doubtful that he could hold the CPC together. Furthermore, Kenny shows no sign of understanding or believing in Harper's attack on process. In short, Kenny has been too busy playing whack-a-mole to study Harper. Remember, Kenny dropped out of college.