Sunday, October 11, 2015

A Change For The Worse

The polls tell us that 70% of us want change -- change as a counter weight to the change Stephen Harper has delivered in the past ten years. If you think not much has changed, Carol Goar reminds you of exactly what this prime minister has "accomplished:"

  • A decade ago, it would have been unthinkable for members of Parliament to spurn their constituents. Now, for half of parliamentarians, it is normal.

  • When the Conservatives took power, no one could have imagined the cancellation of the mandatory full-length census, the single best source of information about how the nation is changing and how the government is meeting these challenges. Now it is gone.

  • Before 2006 no Canadian prime minister — indeed no head of government in the Commonwealth — had ever been found in contempt of Parliament. It has happened twice on Harper’s watch. The Speaker of the House of Commons ruled that the government lied to Parliament and refused to release public documents. These actions contravene the principles on which responsible government is built.

  • Never has a prime minister attacked the chief justice of the Supreme Court, the personification of Canada’s strong, independent judiciary. Harper broke ranks, challenging Beverley McLachlin and by extension the rule of law.

  • Every prime minister for the past century has broadened the right to vote — to women, ethnic minorities, First Nations, Canadians living abroad, individuals with disabilities and homeless people. Harper attempted — with partial success — to reverse the process, disenfranchising thousands of voters with his Fair Elections Law.

  • For 58 years, no prime minister cavilled about providing life-saving medicine to refugee claimants awaiting their hearings. It was a mark of a decent nation. Harper slashed the Interim Federal Health Program “to defend the interests of Canadian taxpayers.”

  • Before Harper took power, Canadians were not a fearful people. We did not obsess over criminals in our communities, terrorists infiltrating our borders, bogus refugees exploiting our generosity or foreign wars threatening our security. We took reasonable precautions and got on with life. We trusted our fellow-citizens and gave refugee claimants a fair hearing. Now all of that is gone — dismissed as hopelessly na├»ve and unworldly.

  • Nor were we a xenophobic people. We weren’t unnerved by kirpans or offended by niqabs. We didn’t use terms such as “barbaric cultural practices.” We didn’t regard outsiders as a threat; immigrants and their families as a burden; or refugees as potential terrorists. We took pride in our reputation as one of the world’s few successful pluralistic societies.

  • If Harper's objective was to make history, he has, indeed, done that. But it's not the kind of history we -- or he -- should be proud of:

    No prime minister has treated Canada’s Charter of Rights as an inconvenience he could ignore, challenge or test at taxpayers’ expense. No prime minister has sicced federal tax auditors on charities that protect the environment, speak for the poor, or fight for freedom of expression. No prime minister has stripped judges of their discretion to sentence lawbreakers. No prime minister has treated Canadian citizenship as a benefit that can be revoked at will by the government. No prime minister has forbidden federal scientists to share their findings with their international peers or the public.

    There's a big difference between a change for the better and a change for the worse.


    Lorne said...

    Canadians cannot claim anything other than willful ignorance if they pretend that the Harper regime has delivered, to use the word of the ranting Earl Cowan, 'good government', Owen. The information is there. May voters act on it accordingly.

    Owen Gray said...

    The Harper government has tried to suppress all kinds of information, Lorne. But, as we go to the polls, we should remember Chico Marx's quip, "Well, who you gonna believe? Me or your own eyes?

    Mogs Moglio said...

    Owen, Pam, Sound, Rural, Toby, Scotian, et al it is a time to give thanks for what we have is that que si or que no?

    Que si I wish to thank you all for participating in Owen's blog you too Owen where we can express our thoughts and feelings about the empire Harper is attempting to fortress around us. We still have family friends and loved ones do we not? It is still a blessing to be "Canadian" is it not?

    Yes, yes we have to turn this page of history and be gone with the Harper Government, how dare he rename our government , the Canadian Government after himself? How rude and self flagellating is that for his pompous small ego that is bloated out of all proportion, eh?

    I am grateful to be alive I am grateful to be Canadian I want Harper gone gone gone and you?

    Owen Gray said...

    Happy Thanksgiving, Mogs. Northern Reflections is not just about my reflections. It is a compendium of other peoples' thoughts as well. Best wishes to all.

    William Laidlaw said...

    I would suggest that the open acceptance of 'new' Canadians was a phenomenon of the second half of the last century only, and even then honoured more in the breach than the observance - for example - remember the posters of constable Camel Dung?

    Owen Gray said...

    I agree, William. There was the Komagata maru incident, the refusal to accept Jewish refugees from Europe. Our history is full of that kind of prejudice. What is most notable about the Harper government is its dogged attempt to turn back the clock.

    Rural said...

    Mogs said "Owen, Pam, Sound, Rural, Toby, Scotian, et al it is a time to give thanks for what we have is that que si or que no?'
    Mogs, there seems to be a small gathering of us here that think alike, I will admit to feeling an affinity to you all despite having never met. Perhaps when this is all over we can arrange for a meet up to celebrate the removal of the Harper dictatorship, my rural property about 2 hours NW of T.O. is always open for folks who enjoy nature and open discussions!

    Mogs Moglio said...

    Happy Thanksgiving to you as well and your immediate family also through this blog your extended family.

    Owen I must confess I learned in 1985 what real thanksgiving was really all about. I woke up to the startling scientific fact that the Earth I prefer to misspell I take the h capitalize it and put it in front where it belongs Heart our Earth is the heart of the universe. [IMHO] Now all nonsense aside since Galileo none have found a planet this hospitable to our life forms. There are no planets that match the Earth's majesty beauty and diversity of life forms. Period. When are people going to get it? We already live in paradise why are you destroying it? Oh I forgot paper with faces and numbers is quite more important than life itself.

    Cheerio Harper...

    Thank-you Owen for this Reflection blog ;)


    Owen Gray said...

    Earth is the only planet that can put up with us, Mogs -- and, if we continue to treat it with disrespect, it won't put up with us much longer. Something to think about on Thanksgiving.

    lungta said...

    i think
    if you include residential schools, the destruction of the sundance and potlatch ceremonies (as barbaric cultural practices)and the general treatment of the aboriginal peoples with starvation and forced removals
    you are going to have to admit
    we are and have been since our inception
    a very xenophobic country
    deluded by our self image of "inclusiveness" and "equality"
    the foreign workers policy has displaced 1000's of born canadian workers
    and not added much to put out our smoldering xenophobic fires either
    we haven't come very far in 150 years
    and yes dump harper
    i at least want my disillusions back
    and a peace keeping military would be nice....bomb runs in syria?
    and science and accurate censuses not spying and .....oh forgive me
    i moved on to christmas list mode

    Owen Gray said...

    We have never been paragons of virtue, lungta. But at least -- despite our failings -- we used to have a public conscience. This government clearly has none and is not interested in having one.

    Lulymay said...

    Oh, Owen, you remember that old saying... "the last perfect man was nailed to the cross" and I have to admit, I'm scared of needles, never mind nails! Of course we're not perfect, but we have the capability to learn and let live, given that we give good consideration to education and the ability of all working folks to put a roof over their heads and some food on the table. I learned a long time ago in a sociology class that, whether rightly or wrongly, we tend to fear other cultures not the people themselves. At least until we allow ourselves to meet these people and understand their culture, and that it is not really threatening at all. Then we're off and running as a community and a country again, but most of all as a functioning human race. Lastly, I thoroughly object to anyone purporting to be a leader in my country suggesting that I should learn and think otherwise.

    Happy Thanksgiving to all and know that I thoroughly enjoy this blog and all the contributors. Cheers!

    Owen Gray said...

    We are the authors of our own misery, Lulymay. And, when we choose to remain ignorant, we can expect a lot of misery. Happy Thanksgiving.

    Mogs Moglio said...

    Rural hang on to that thought and this is the most pleasant laid back blog we can visit. To you and your family enjoy the best thanksgiving ever. I am grateful for the blessings I have received on this small planet I call Heart okay Owen chide me eh?

    I strongly believe we can and will move forward out of the seeming despair we are engulfed in. To build stairs one only needs two stringers [okay three or more if it is very wide]and several risers and treads. We can do that as a human family can we? Yes I know we can, Rural you have begun to put the tread and risers on Owens stringers...

    Let us continue to build a human family we can all be proud of.