Well, Canada's 41st election is well underway, we've seen the ads, listened to the catch phrases, been inundated with polls, perhaps watched a debate or two, and you may even have tuned in to the CBC's series of Peter Mansbridge interviews one on one with each of the leaders, which inspired this particular blog post.
In today's interview, Stephen Harper said we need to examine his record. I thought, ok, why not give it a shot. Now, being an ordinary guy, I don't have a team of researchers to do my bidding, so I have to rely on search engines, memory, newspapers, magazines and the sort. By no means is this the definitive chronological be-all end-all examination of the Harper record, just what one man could come up with.
It's a fairly disjointed look at things, as I didn't attempt to get into details on dates, just some kind of look at what has been done, and I guess what we could expect a lot more of with a Stephen Harper majority government. I'm not going to add editorial comment, actions speak louder than words.
The Harper Record
Told Canadians in 2008 there was no threat of recession
Told Canadians Conservatives would never run a deficit
Racked up the biggest deficit in Canadian History, eclipsing the 38 Billion Mulroney Conservative deficit.
Claimed credit for Canada riding out a global economic mess even though the regulations that allowed for it were enacted by Paul Martin, a Liberal, who left Harper with a 14 billion dollar surplus in 2006
Guaranteed Canadians his government would never tax income trusts, then immediately placed a tax on income trusts.
Trumpets his party's support for our armed forces and veterans, but doesn't back it up with action. Canada's Veteran's Ombudsman went public with the shockingly poor treatment of Canada's veterans at the hand of the very organizations tasked with protecting and caring for them. The Harper Government does not believe in criticism, so they removed him from his post. Now veterans can be stripped of their dignity and no one has to know.
Probably very few people remember the story of Douglas Tipple. The Harper record is filled with plenty of questionable judgements, this is another example and this one cost us millions. I'd try to explain but it's easier to refer you to the link to one of many sordid stories.
We know Stephen Harper thinks the gun registry is some kind of evil Canada can't stand for. Unfortunately for the High Ranking RCMP official Chief Superintendent Marty Cheliak it didn't pay to endorse it. He was removed from his post because he wasn't french enough (or so was the excuse du jour).
Even though we've maintained a high quality census throughout our history, and that the manditory long form census had never resulted in anyone being charged or going to jail, Stephen Harper claimed there was a landslide of opposition to the "intrusive" form and against the advice of the world's top experts mounted an all out effort to rid us of this incredibly important tool. This resulted in the resignation of Munir Sheikh, head of Statistics Canada, widely regarded as among the world's top experts in the gathering and analysis of vital statistics. Maybe today this isn't a big deal to you, but 10 years from now, when a hospital is desperately needed in your riding, it will be built 40 miles away in the riding of a government member because the information that used to dictate how and where services were delivered depended crucially on the information that used to come from the long form census.
The list of firings, appointments not renewed, and positions phased out just goes on and on, with the central theme being, if you say anything critical of the government, you're gone. If you're lucky, you're gone, this government also has a particular penchant for trying to discredit anyone who disagrees. Either they do the worst job in history of hiring/appointing people to run our institutions, or they have a policy of stifiling dissent. Maybe both, but I don't think so.
Well, you say, perhaps it may all be a huge coincidence. At least we all have rights. The Harper government would prefer you keep your rights to yourself. Closure of Canadian Human Rights Commission offices will hurt Canadians. The three offices slated for closure; Vancouver, Toronto and Halifax received 70 per cent of all signed complaints to the CHRC in 2008.
Thank goodness we can trust them economically, right? Independent Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page had his budget slashed after revealing the true costs of the Afghan war and disputing the government's economic and fiscal projections. In September 2010 he announced he will not seek reappointment in 2013. An experiment in “transparency and accountability” that was doomed from the beginning. PBO Page most recently alerted Canadians the costs of F35 fighter jets as stated aren't even close to being right.
If you try to protect Canadians, and it ends up an embarrassment for the Harper government, you get what whistle-blower biologist/public employee, Luc Pomerleau got. Fired for leaking a government memo proposing to allow the meat industry to handle its own inspections. The head of the Food Inspection Agency, Carole Swan, fired Mr. Pomerleau, ignoring the fact that the proposed plan potentially threatened public safety. Shortly after food safety was hammered home when several Canadians died of listeriosis from tainted meat from a Canadian plant.
I couldn't possibly list all of the similar stories, all of which happened since Stephen Harper came to power. I'd invite you to use your search engine and spend some time looking into the myriad of incidents where someone has been critical and has been fired, muzzled, or worse.
I'm pretty sure if you read blogs you know a lot of the Harper record yourself.
When his government was about to fall on a confidence motion he convinced the Governer General to prorogue parliament, shutting down the house for nefarious purposes and killing all legislation in progress.
Harper's record shows he runs away at the slightest sign of trouble. When it became apparent the Afghan Detainee documents were going to be made public, they obviously were important enough for this man to, once again, avoid the scrutiny of the Canadian public by ordering up an unprecedented second proroguation of parliment.
Stephen Harper promised to reform the senate and put an end to partisan porkbarrelling in the upper chamber and at first opportuity he stacked it with ridiculous party fundraisers and hacks. He then used these appointed hacks to set a precident in Canadian history. Killing a bill passed in the elected house of commons.
When examining the record you have to ask exactly how it is Mr. Harper delivered on his solemn promise to clean up government. Did he do it by employing a 5 time convicted felon to work as his top advisor? Did he do it by make absolutely ridiculous allegations to RCMP about a cabinet minister in his own government, allowing her to be decimated until the truth came out it was all a lie and then refused to say her name let alone apoligize? Did he do it by employing, then appointing to the senate, men facing charges of fraud for a con game that resulted in over a million of your tax dollars being stolen in a scheme that, in day to day life, would be the same as you putting an empty envelope in the ATM and withdrawing a large sum of cash. The list just goes on and on and shockingly on.
I could add more, aside from the scandal-a-day we get now, but I'm sure you can find plenty, even if you just read the links in the blog you get the idea.
Whenever confronted, it is always a lie, someone else's fault, they refuse to talk about it, hide behind procedure, or turn it back to the same messages intended to somehow scare someone or everyone. One thing I will make very clear on the Harper record. The government did not fall because the majority of parliament rejected the conservative budget. The budget brought forward was never voted on. The reason we are having an election on May 2nd is due to a finding by speaker Peter Milliken that, for the first time in history, the Government of Canada was found to be in contempt of parliament, the most serious charge a government can face domestically. In light of the speaker's ruling, Opposition Leader Michael Ignatieff brought forward a motion of non-confidence in the Conservative Government of Stephen Harper, which was voted on by all members of the house, resulting in a loss for Mr. Harper and the opportunity to judge.
As Mr. Harper said. Judge them on their record. While by no means is this all of their record, look into it and ask yourself if these people are the ones you want to run your affairs and over the course of a mandate, potentially spend a quarter trillion of your tax dollars.
It's your choice. Get informed and get to the polls. Know the big picture.
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Mark McCaw ~ twitter's @bigpicguy
Author of "Insights Inside a Mind" ~ blogging the big picture