When it comes to evaluating the recently announced federal surplus, it's wise to remember that Stephen Harper has been waging a decade long war on facts. Chris Turner writes:
The crux of the matter is that experts, especially in technical and scientific fields, are beholden not to short-term policy goals but to verifiable facts. And Harper’s Conservatives have demonstrated time and again that they are more than happy to ignore, manipulate, even eliminate problematic facts to get what they want.
This is one of Harper’s most distinctive and potentially lasting fingerprints on the country after a decade in power — a dismissive smear across the government’s fact-finding apparatus that has substantially diminished its ability to tell Canadians who they are, what’s happening in their country, and how their government’s policies are affecting their lives and their world.
The elimination of the long form census and Mr. Harper's omnibus budget bills have destroyed this country's ability to make wise decisions:
Killing the long-form census is perhaps the less comprehensible measure. It was an act of willful self-blindness in which the Conservatives deliberately chose to gather much less information — of lower quality — about what is happening in the country to figure out how to run it. It only makes any kind of sense in light of Harper’s stated distaste for those meddling eggheads who “commit sociology” and other sorts of egregious liberal artistry using the data gathered by the census. If you’re tired of dodging reports showing that your crime bill won’t reduce crime and your economic policies don’t improve the economy, why not simply compromise all the numbers feeding them?
The 2012 omnibus budget bills were a more full-throated articulation of the anti-expert agenda. They hacked and slashed through government-funded laboratories and science programs, as well as rewriting more than 70 separate pieces of legislation in a radical diminishment of Canada’s environmental stewardship program. The reworked Fisheries Act now no longer protects more than 80 per cent of the freshwater species of fish facing extinction it used to cover. The Navigable Waters Protection Act, which once guarded millions of bodies of water from reckless development, now applies to less than 200. (The “Idle No More” movement among Canada’s First Nations began as a direct response to the enormous reduction in protection of indigenous rights this represented.)
Harper rose to power on the backs of the ignorant and the disaffected. His aim is to ensure that all citizens stay that way. As long as they don't have "just the facts, ma'am," he can always skate past the finish line.