It is my bittersweet duty to report that I can now safely retire this Web site, catsforharper.ca. Tonight, the Liberal Party sailed to a resounding victory, earning a solid majority in Parliament.
Now let’s see what Mr. Trudeau does about Bill C-51, about the CBC, about two-tier citizenship, about the voting rights of expatriates, about the TPP, about Canadian scientists, about the long-form census, about Canada Post, about the handling of refugees, and about a whole host of other issues that were the reason why I was so hoping to see a change in government. I have high hopes. I hope sincerely that Mr. Trudeau will not disappoint us.
As to Mr. Harper, Tom Mulcair said it best: “Despite our many differences on policy, and on the way politics should be conducted, I thank Mr. Harper for his service to our country.”
And now it is time for the final tally: now that he’s retiring from his job as Prime Minister, Mr. Harper should adopt 152.25 cats.
The Harper government prides itself on being the fiscally responsible party. So in these days of deficit budgets and bad economic numbers, they should be saving every penny, right? And they certainly try to do just that, even at the cost of shutting down a globally unique research project, the Experimental Lakes Area, to save some 2 million dollars annually.
Which makes it all the more surprising when you learn that they sent 8 million of our hard-earned tax dollars, that is, enough money to run the ELA project for four years… to Washington DC, to the International Republican Institute, a nominally nonpartisan organization that nonetheless has close ties to the US Republican Party as it operates abroad, with the stated goal of “advancing freedom and democracy worldwide”. I mean, this firmly belongs in the “you gotta be kidding me” category.
OK, I suppose it could have been worse (though not much worse)… Harper could have sent our money directly to the Republican Party’s coffers.
Thanks to Mr. Harper, my Canadian passport is worth less than the passport of Canadians born in this country with no ties to foreign lands.
That is because Mr. Harper decreed that Canadians convicted of certain crimes can have their citizenship revoked.
Never mind Canadians born abroad… apparently, Mr. Harper believes that even Canadians born in this country can be exiled to the land of their parents under the right circumstances.
But if it’s only terrorists, why should I be concerned? Well… remember, at one point, Nelson Mandela was considered a terrorist (and a commie to boot). Being a “terrorist” is often a politically charged accusation. In any case, we have perfectly adequate laws dealing with crimes such as planning or executing politically motivated murders or other acts of destruction. Does this country really need to bring back a barbaric practice more readily associated with past regimes like the Tsars’ Russia, of sending undesirable people into exile?
And the ridiculousness reaches Kafkaesque levels when you learn that the government does not need to prove its case that a person is a citizen of another country. Rather, the accused has to prove that he is not.
If Mr. Harper really believes that this is the way Canada should operate, I am beginning to wonder if he is actually fit to take care of any kittycats.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation should be Canada’s pride and joy. It should be ranked as one of the world’s great public broadcasters, such as the BBC. Instead, Harper’s government has been treating the CBC as a bastard child. When they are not cutting funding, they are doing their best to undermine the CBC’s journalistic independence. Meanwhile, it is painfully clear that they’d like nothing better than for the CBC to just go away.
A good example of how the CBC has been dumbed down over the years is CBC Radio 2. Once a high quality arts and culture network, Radio 2 in recent years has been unsuccessfully competing with commercial radio stations broadcasting pop music for a significant part of the day.
To be sure, they still allocate a set number of hours for “classical music”. As if “classical music” was just another genre like hip-hop or country! This more than anything demonstrates the philistine nature of the people behind these decisions: their failure to realize that “classical music” encompasses nearly all the musical history of humanity, and that an educated listener would gladly hear an eclectic mix of classical and popular, of ancient and modern music… which is what the CBC of decades past used to provide, in the form of programs like the late Jürgen Gothe’s unforgettable Disc Drive.
And then I have not even mentioned the demise of the CBC Radio Orchestra…
When the Harper government decided in 2012 to defund Canada’s Experimental Lakes Area research project, a globally unique research facility studying an entire freshwater ecosystem, it drew international condemnation from the scientific community. The almost vile pettiness of the government was amply demonstrated when they began dismantling cabins on the site, with no advance notification and no regard for the personal property of participating scientists stored there.
The ELA project survived, with non-governmental funding. Canada’s reputation, however, suffered and the Harper government’s contempt for science became even clearer than before.
Nothing demonstrates the Harper government’s contempt for real facts and impartial analysis more than their attitude towards scientists in the employ of the Federal Government.
While technically, being their employer, it is within the government’s rights to tell scientists what they can or cannot tell the public or the press, the extent to which Mr. Harper tries to control the message is frightening.
This is yet another example of the Harper government creating lasting damage, fundamentally underlying the integrity and trustworthiness of our government institutions. When a government scientist speaks to the public the next time about a politically controversial topic such as the changing climate (which really shouldn’t be politically controversial, but that’s a story for another day) you feel compelled to wonder: is the scientist telling the real story, or is he simply delivering a message of his political masters?
It should not be this way. Science has only one real currency: its integrity. And government should not be trying to shape the facts; it should shape policy to match the facts.
Many years ago, I became one of the lucky recipients of the “long form” census from Statistics Canada. When I read through the 20-some pages of questions, I became concerned: there were too many questions of a personal nature, and I did not feel that my anonymity was adequately protected by the census procedure. My concern was fueled, in part, by the fact that I just finished reading Edwyn Black’s book, IBM and the Holocaust, which detailed how the Nazi state used census information collected by way of IBM tabulating machines to quickly locate and round up Jews in occupied territories.
Indeed, I became sufficiently worried that I wrote a letter, addressed to the then Chief Statistician, Ivan Fellegi, expressing my concerns. Much to my surprise, I received a phone call a few days later from a senior employee at Statistics Canada, who politely listened to my concerns and seemed genuinely interested.
I was hoping for some reform that might alleviate my concerns. Never did I dream that one day, Canada will have a government that will disastrously undermine the statistical integrity of Canada’s census by replacing the mandatory long from census with a voluntary variety.
This is one of several acts of this government that show the depths of their scientific illiteracy and indeed, their hostility to proper science. And the damage is lasting; even if a future government restores the mandatory long form census, valuable and important data have been lost for good.
A government that shows such contempt towards scientific integrity does not deserve to govern. Perhaps minding cats is a more appropriate vocation for Mr. Harper and his colleagues.
Here is another one of the Harper government’s unforgivable sins: the abuse of omnibus bills.
Bills in a legislature are called omnibus bills when they contain unrelated pieces of legislation. Tacking on such unrelated clauses to a bill are common in the US Congress, but lest we forget, the US Congress differs from Canada’s parliament in two very important respects: First, there is no party discipline and second, the executive is independently elected and has veto power.
These checks and balances are absent from Canada’s parliament. This is why the Harper government’s inclination to use omnibus bills as a matter of routine is so troubling. Particularly insidious are omnibus budget bills. For instance, the latest budget bill, which included provisions about creating a Parliament Hill police force, dealt with suspected terrorists’ passports, and the records of the defunct Long Gun Registry.
While not illegal, this practice should be considered exceptional, used only in the rarest of cases. I hope that the next government will recognize this and refrain from the practice of putting expediency ahead of the basic principles of parliamentary democracy.
A few days ago, in defense of his government’s decision to limit health care to refugee claimants, Mr. Harper described his policy as being supported by most new, existing, and, ahem, old stock Canadians.
Just what exactly did he mean? As an immigrant, a naturalized Canadian who became a citizen a mere 24 years ago, what do I qualify as? Am I a new Canadian? An existing Canadian? Surely not “old stock”? Or could it be that it’s not how long you have been a citizen of this country but where you come from, what your background happens to be, or heaven forbid, the color of your skin that determines who is “old stock”?
This looks like yet another wonderful example of just how divisive Mr. Harper and his Conservative Party have become. To most of us Canadians, there is only one kind of Canadian. Not to Mr. Harper: and that is why I sincerely hope that after October 19, Mr. Harper will have a lot more time on his hands that he can devote to helping shelter cats.
Sorry, Donald Sutherland. Move over, Wayne Gretzky. Not to mention another 1.4 million Canadians who are living abroad and who are no longer allowed to vote. Step aside please… don’t hold up the line.
It’s not the worst sin of the Harper government, to be sure. There are legitimate reasons to deny the vote to those who do not live with the consequences. Some countries allow expats to vote; others do not.
Nonetheless, why now? Was this a serious concern, expat votes skewing Canadian election results?
Or is this just another example of a prime minister for whom Canadians living abroad are not “old stock” enough to be allowed to vote?