Well, it’s election season, and if there is ever a time to talk politics, it is now! Our system may be flawed (its lack of proportional representation ensures many voters’ preferences are not reflected in the final makeup of Parliament) but an election is still the most direct chance we have to make a difference in who runs our government and what kinds of policies get advanced. So get out there and vote! (If you’re Canadian, that is… my friends and blog readers in the Bay Area area are off the hook. But next year, the same applies to them!)
They say that governments don’t get voted in but voted out – and examining my feelings about this election campaign, I must admit that this holds true for me. And it’s Stephen Harper I want out. NOW.
Maybe I’m naive, but I honestly can’t imagine how any truly thinking person could cast a ballot for a Conservative MP, knowing this will keep Harper in power and his policies in effect. And the prospect of a Harper majority truly scares me. Yet the reasons for my opposition to the man and everything he stands for don’t seem to be getting much mention during this campaign.
So many of his actions clearly show his desire to muzzle free expression… to hide, ignore or distort the facts in order justify his policies… his flat out contempt for the democratic process and for Canadians themselves.
Below, I list some of the things the Harper government has done that I find upsetting.
(Note: there is also a great new website called “www.shitharperdid.ca” – an easy-to-read compendium of everything dubious about Our Fearless Leader – be sure to give it a look (and forgive the slightly rude title). There are lots of things there that, even if you’re a longtime Harper foe, you probably never knew. I sure found some eye-openers.)
But meanwhile, here are the things I already was angry about.
- There was the new Environment Canada policy that scientists with federal projects could not speak directly to the press without prior approval from the government – a previously unheard-of restriction. Since media outlets often have same-day deadlines, the delay in getting this approval effectively means they don’t get heard. After all, we don’t want global warming science openly discussed, do we? Then we might have to do something serious about it.
- There was the relentless and completely fact-free opposition to Vancouver’s safe injection site. InSite is a proven success that every study confirms is benefitting some of the most desperate and vulnerable of our society – and saving lives. When the BC Supreme Court ruled that its exemption from Federal drug laws was justified in the context of a public health service, Harper’s government challenged that decision in court, while referring publicly to a non-existent “debate” over the value of InSite. There was (and is) not any such debate, as their own advisory committee has confirmed.
- There was the decision to make the “long form” census voluntary, and thus useless – a decision that will deprive Canadians of vital information used in all aspects of daily life, and one almost universally opposed by a spectrum of affected groups and interests from Bay Street to universities to religious groups to statisticians themselves. Their rationale? Imaginary opposition among the public to the intrusiveness of the census and to the penalties for non-compliance, including potential jail terms… penalties that have NEVER BEEN USED. So, why not reduce the penalties? No, they chose to block the collection of information instead. Harper doesn’t like facts – they are troublesome, uncontrollable by his office and tend to make him look bad.
- Finally, there is the bogus “tough on crime” agenda, flying in the face of every fact, every study, that shows we are in reality safer than ever and violent crime is going down, and has been for years. But no – we must build more prisons and follow the failed, expensive approach of the U.S. And if the studies and experts disagree, well, they just write their own study that fits their “facts”.
All this and people still apparently find Harper the “most competent” leader. It’s enough to make one weep. But he has never been given a majority government – enough to give one hope.
I am aware, of course, of the argument made by Conservative supporters, that “it’s the economy, stupid” – that Harper the fiscal whiz and hard-headed economically-trained bean counter has shepherded us through recessionary times relatively unscathed.
But isn’t this the same Stephen Harper who benefited from a generous surplus gained under the previous Liberal government?
And honestly, I don’t think the alternative to Harper is inevitably some sort of blundering Three-Stooges-style fiscal slapstick. The Conservatives have no exclusive claim to financial common sense. I don’t doubt that all the other parties have the knowledge and resources to keep the Canadian financial ship afloat and on course.
I do, however, oppose a fiscal policy that puts prison-building above crime prevention and social justice; and that values blatant fear-mongering over facts. Finally, Harper’s “conservatives” belie their moniker when they promise to push through a batch of pricy and discredited “tough on crime” bills.
Finally, every time Stephen Harper says “nobody wanted this election”, he’s doing his bit to defeat any interest in the voting process – and to get people to tune out and stay home. That will only help him at the ballot box. It shows contempt for our parliamentary political process and, by extension, for the Canadian people.
And that’s why I want Harper’s government OUT on May 2.