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Harper’s record

2011 April 16

I don’t identify with any particular political party, and despite generally having more in common philosophically with the left than the right, I will readily acknowledge bad ideas from the left and good ideas from the right.

That said, over the last five years I’ve routinely been flabbergasted by one disheartening, counterproductive Conservative move after another. Unfortunately, my memory sometimes fails me when put on the spot. So I sat down and made this list to remind myself (and you) why today’s Conservatives are, frankly, unbearable. I also included all the good things I could think of, in the interest of fairness.

I know beat me to the punch, but they only tell you one awful thing at a time, so it’s hard to get an overall sense of things, and the tone is a little too lefty for me; sometimes their reasoning is kinda specious. Another list can’t hurt.

Now, as a future public health practitioner, perhaps it behooves me to be a little more diplomatic when writing on the Internet. I can only request that the future excuse the following (fully referenced) screed as merely a youthful indiscretion. Thanks, future!

Awful things

– Abandoned the mandatory long-form census, gutting the utility of data that is crucial to plan efficient services, flatly denying that this was a problem, falsely claiming the endorsement of one of the world’s best-respected national statistics agencies, and prompting the resignation of its head in protest. (Globe and Mail)

– Specifically withheld funding for safe abortion in the midst of an effort to improve international maternal health, despite that unsafe abortion is a major cause of maternal mortality internationally, implying a double standard for health care for Canadians vs. others. (CBC)

– Pursued mandatory minimum sentencing to supposedly deal with crime, despite clear evidence that this will not work and will cost a huge amount of money. (Globe and Mail)

– Made Canada Israel’s best friend even as the latter continued to illegally settle disputed territory and took increasingly indefensible measures in its conflict with Palestine, accusing any critics of Israel (including the Liberals) of being anti-Semitic. The head of B’nai Brith applauded him for not being an honest broker. (CBC)

– Did more to hold back international progress on climate change than almost any other country in the world. (MacLean’s)

– Clamped down on the public’s access to information about the government, reducing media access and introducing new restrictions on public statements by government-employed scientists. (The Tyee, and this is the only really lefty news outlet I’ll include among these links)

– Repeatedly threatened Canada’s only supervised drug injection site with closure, turning a blind eye to the very strong evidence of its effectiveness. (MacLean’s — this article is mostly about the RCMP but page 3 discusses the Conservatives’ approach)

– Opposed same-sex marriage. (CBC)

– Dragged heels on reforming a bill meant to make medicines more affordable for poor countries; finally killed the Bill — after the House passed it — by pushing Conservative senators to stall discussion of the Bill until government fell. UAEM and partners have been working on this issue for years. (Ottawa Citizen)

– Generally took an inflammatory anti-refugee stance and introduced legislation to make it harder for people to claim refugee status. (Canadian Council for Refugees open letter)

– Shut down Parliament, twice. (Economist)

Good things

– They allocated a big pot of money for global health research. (Canada’s Grand Challenges)

– They apologized to the First Nations, for the first time, for the Canadian government’s attempted genocide by residential schools, and the resultant intergenerational trauma that contributes substantially to social dysfunction to this day. (Globe and Mail)

– I suppose you can make the argument from democracy: lots of Canadians really do subscribe to the awful social ideology implied above, and those people should have just as much a say in our government as me. The Conservatives faithfully represent this segment of society.

– They claim to be better for the economy, but I’m not convinced that that’s true. Will the Conservatives really create the most jobs and make life the easiest for the working-class who, understandably, are concerned about their financial situation? Well, I’ve repeatedly heard that the strong banking regulation that supposedly helped Canada weather the economic downturn were primarily put in place by the previous Liberal government. And between the fighter jets and the vast numbers of extra prisoners they aim to create, the claim to be spending money wisely doesn’t hold water with me. As for whether any other party is better, though, I have to reserve judgment.

There are tons of other issues I haven’t even touched on, because I don’t know as much about them. What have I missed?

In any case, if you, like me, want nothing more from this election than to limit Conservative power, despite Canada’s regrettably distorting first-past-the-post electoral system, here’s a good place to start: This map of the closest ridings will tell you how to most effectively use your anti-Conservative vote if you live in one, or your political donation if you don’t.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. 2011 April 17 13:57

    Here’s a comprehensive article detailing how Harper has silenced many advocacy organizations and other dissenting voices.

    At the end of the article is a list of seventy-nine community organizations, agencies, NGOs, research bodies and programs which have been cancelled, or whose funding has been cut or dramatically decreased.

  2. Ben Gordes permalink
    2011 April 19 09:43

    More than a few things missing here, although I cannot provide links to these items.
    1. Contempt of Parliament – the first government to fall from this motion in Canadian history. Why did this happen? Not the nasty lefties. The minority government refused to share documents and information with the house of representatives. So it’s not just a media blackout, it’s an ideological blackout. In this case 65% of the house weren’t allowed to know what the other 35% were doing. That’s a BIG deal.
    2. Extended failing Afghan mission.
    3. Ongoing cover-up and shut-down parliamentary democracy to prevent release of the facts surrounding the Afghani citizens we knowingly handed over to be tortured.
    4. A massive defence spending plan while austerity measures for anyone else who depends on them.
    5. A Harper Government Minister inserted ‘NOT’ into a parliamentary-approved funding grant to stymie funding for a charity group. Can you beat that? That’s an old high school trick.
    6. Drastically reducing family immigration approvals. Can you imagine if your family couldn’t come and help raise your kids, or if you couldn’t look after your parents when they are older? This would seriously affect the mental health and stability of anyone trying to make a life somewhere new. What? Do we only want those alleged economic opportunists the neo-cons are always complaining about? Who else would immigrate under these circumstances?
    7. In and Out Scandal where Conservative Party illegally funneled one million dollars of public money to help the 2006 campaign. Four leading Conservative figures face jail time. Two of those implicated are sitting Senators, appointed by Stephen Harper.
    8. Harper has stacked the Senate with one-eyed Conservatives, entirely abandoning a long-held tradition of balanced appointments.
    9. Harper has scuppered government watchdogs such as Democracy Watch, whose chairman resigned, along with most long-term staffers, after Conservative stooges were appointed to their boards. These fascists (look it up, that’s what they are) then ignored the group’s mandate and muted all criticism directed at the Canadian government. This, perhaps more than anything, is the most scary, underhanded strategy. Just as the census provided ugly numbers of poverty etc, so watchdogs remind people what their government is supposed to be doing. Do you think the RCMP has the wits and manpower for this job? No.

    So there you go. There’s a few more things to investigate. There’s good reason to drop the ‘left’ and ‘right’ discussion here. Canada’s semi-functioning democracy is under real threat from the Conservatives.

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