Another poll released this week showed that Canadians are right up there with the Swedes and Saudis as the world’s leading back-patters on how well their countries have done. That national self-congratulation is exactly what the Conservatives hope will put Canadians in a grateful mood come voting day.
But do the facts merit such self satisfaction? We are running the largest deficits in our history. We are about to spend billions on an airplane which experts say doesn't meet Canada's defence needs. We just chartered a plane to Libya and it came back empty. And the Prime Minister has told us that, even though one of his ministers misled Parliament, it's alright because she made the right decision.
Then there is the case of the Prime Minister's recently retired Integrity Commissioner, Christiane Ouimete. During her tenure, she was asked to investigate 228 cases. She looked into seven.
The log shows that 42 of the cases involved alleged misuse of taxpayer dollars or government assets. Another 50 or so cases involved charges of what is listed as “gross mismanagement.” About 60 other allegations involved contraventions of Acts of Parliament.
After consulting with the Prime Minister's Office, she found that none of the 228 cases had merit. The Government's handling of arms length organizations -- whose job it is to act as a countervailing force on the government -- is instructive. From the Nuclear Safety Commission, to the Veterans Ombudsman, to Statistics Canada, it's clear that if the Prime Minister's line is questioned, the heads of those organizations will be replaced. The Integrity Commissioner retired after Sheila Fraser reported Ouimete wasn't doing her job. The government, however, was quite happy with her performance. She did not act as a countervailing force.
And, then there is the biggest countervailing force of all -- the Liberal Party of Canada. Gerry Nicholls, who claims to know how the Prime Minister thinks, writes that Mr. Harper wants to destroy the Liberals. Given the ads the Conservatives have been running, that does not appear to be a stretch.
It should be obvious by now that the Harper government has no respect for democratic institutions or rules. Like the governor of Wisconsin, Stephen Harper is committed to clearing a path for oligarchy. Unless we stop feeling so self satisfied, we may wake up after the next election to find that's exactly what we have.