It is the default position of the Stephen Harper government. If you encounter dissent, you demonize. If you are crossed, you take the low road and fight back. Seek enemies. They keep supporters energized and help you raise money.
Now it’s been caught and has retreated to another well-known default position — ignore.
Five weeks after Stephen Harper won his majority government in 2011, Maclean’s magazine ran a story asking experts to name Canada’s best prime ministers. Harper ranked 11th on the list.
Stephen Azzi, a Carleton University historian who co-authored the Maclean’s piece, says he doubts very much Harper would have budged on the list if their survey were conducted today. “All of the prime ministers we consider successful have some major accomplishment they can point to – Harper doesn’t have that,” he explains. “His accomplishment first of all is winning power and staying in power and then there are a series of minor things that his supporters like. But it will be hard for future generations to remember him for these things.”
National Observer – Is Harper the worst prime minister in history? PART TWO
“Brian Mulroney was an appalling prime minister, appalling. But if I had to pick one prime minister over the other [between Harper and Mulroney], I would pick Mulroney.”
– Stevie Cameron, author of On the Take, the 1994 bestseller about corruption during the Mulroney years.
It’s unconstitutional in Canada to charge someone with a crime if the offence was not illegal at the time it was committed, technically called an ex post facto law. Unfortunately, the framers of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms never anticipated the Harper government, which has found a loophole on that principle.
Under Prime Minister Stephen Harper, actions that were illegal can now be made legal when the law is politically inconvenient.
Finance critics and MPs from both the NDP and Liberal parties blasted the federal government’s 2015 budget, taking aim at everything from long-gun registry record destruction to employment statistics.
Liberal finance critic Scott Brison had harsh words about the government’s elimination of the long-gun registry, which formed part of the Harper government’s latest ‘omnibus’ Bill C-59, ‘An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on April 21, 2015 and other measures’.
“The most egregious thing the Conservatives do in this bill is retroactively changing the law to make something that was illegal at the time legal,” Brison said. “But the Conservatives won’t speak out against this because they’re all whipped — they don’t have the will to defend the rule of law in this case.”
When it comes to the controversial practice of curtailing parliamentary debate, opposition parties say Conservatives have hit the century mark.
On Wednesday, 141 Tory MPs voted to pass a time allocation motion on Bill C-59, a 167-page, omnibus budget implementation bill that also contains unprecedented amendments to retroactively rewrite access to information laws.
Time allocation allows the government to limit the length of debate on a bill so that it can be passed at a quicker pace. Opponents of the practice deride it as anti-democratic.
HARPER TAKES FROM YOU AND GIVES TO HIS FRIENDS
The country has a looming housing problem that is going to require action from all levels of government, according to a new report from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. The study says the long, steady decline in federal subsidies for social housing has left provinces, territories and municipalities struggling against market forces that are making it increasingly difficult for low- and modest-income renters.
“With 850,000 lower-rent units lost in the last decade, our rental sector is ill prepared for any downturn in the housing market,” Brad Woodside, the president of the FCM, says in the introduction to the study. “One in five renters pays more than 50 per cent of their income on housing.”
As the Harper government was tightening its belt to wipe out the federal deficit, officials at Canada House in London, England, spared no expense on a splashy re-opening fit for a queen.
Internal invoices for the Feb. 19 posh event on Trafalgar Square show taxpayers were billed more than $200,000 for a few hours of wine-sipping, beef-eating and plaque-unveiling, as well as a set of complimentary keys for Queen Elizabeth II, the guest of honour, and Prince Philip.
SCIENCE AND ENVIRONMENT
Speaking Up For Science – Part of National Rock Collection To be Dumped – Is This A Concern? Probably.
The excellent folks at Blacklocks Reporter are reporting that the geological Survey of Canada is throwing away part of its mineral and soil collection. “The Canadian Geological Survey said it will dump tons of minerals and soil samples carefully collected for scientific research”
Now, I am not a geologist so I contacted one who used to work for the GSC and asked “is this a concern?” His answer? “Yes”
A recently retired Fisheries and Oceans Canada biologist says the muzzling of federal government scientists is worse than anyone can imagine. Steve Campana, known for his expertise on everything from great white sharks to porbeagles and Arctic trout, says the atmosphere working for the federal government is toxic.
The Halifax-based scientist, who only agreed to talk to CBC after he retired from the department, says federal scientists have been working in a climate of fear. “I am concerned about the bigger policy issues that are essentially leading to a death spiral for government science,” he said in an exclusive interview.
“I see that is going to be a huge problem in the coming years. We are at the point where the vast majority of our senior scientists are in the process of leaving now disgusted as I am with the way things have gone, and I don’t think there is any way for it to be recovered.”
The Harper government now says Canada will reduce its carbon emissions by 30 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030, likely one of the least – if not the least – ambitious target of any advanced industrial country. Of supreme importance, nothing in the announcement referred to bitumen oil, which was the fastest-growing source of GHGs in Canada before the oil price collapse. For years, the Harper government promised regulations on bitumen oil, only to produce nothing. That nothing will now continue
A new report on marine conservation efforts says Canada is severely lacking in the quantity and quality of its protection for ocean ecosystems.
In a report released Monday, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society points to flaws in Canada’s marine protected areas — zones intended to conserve aquatic species and habitats under various provincial and federal legislation.
CPAWS says only 0.11 per cent of Canada’s ocean territory is fully closed to what it calls extractive activities such as fishing and oil and gas development. The report says that in the United States and the United Kingdom the area is closer to 10 per cent.
LAW? WHAT LAW?
Medical marijuana patients will now be able to consume marijuana — and not just smoke it — as well as use other extracts and derivatives, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled today. The unanimous ruling against the federal government expands the definition of medical marijuana beyond the “dried” form.
Health Minister Rona Ambrose says she is “outraged” by the Supreme Court of Canada decision that expands the definition of medical marijuana beyond dried leaves, to include cannabis oils, teas, brownies and other forms of the drug.
In a unanimous decision Thursday, the Supreme Court ruled that users should not be restricted to only using the dried form of the drug. They said the current rules prevent people with a legitimate need for medical marijuana from choosing a method of ingestion that avoids the potential harms of smoking it.
The federal government has lost a bid to thwart a court challenge aimed at compelling Prime Minister Stephen Harper to fill Senate vacancies. Federal Court Justice Sean Harrington rejected Thursday the government’s motion to have the case dismissed.
The case was launched by Vancouver lawyer Aniz Alani, who maintains the unfilled vacancies are unconstitutional, leaving provinces under-represented and the Senate less able to carry out its constitutional role as the chamber of sober second thought. He is asking the court to declare that Senate vacancies must be filled within a reasonable time.
Harper has not appointed a senator since March 2013 — when the scandal over improper expenses claimed by some senators began to engulf his government.
The Harper government’s controversial anti-terrorism bill violates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Canada has ratified, according to legal analysis by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the world’s largest security-oriented intergovernmental organization.
The Vienna-based group, which Canada joined in 1973, found that Section 16 of Bill C-51, which contain amendments to the Criminal Code outlawing “advocating or promoting the commission of terrorism,” places a number of direct restrictions on freedom of expression.
HARPER’S FRIENDS AND ENEMIES
The Canadian government is refusing to make public the assessments it conducts to determine whether Ottawa’s $15-billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia is compatible with foreign policy or poses a risk to the civilian population in a country notorious for human-rights abuses.
The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal awarded a First Nations child advocate $20,000 after determining an official in the office of the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs “retaliated” against her over a human rights complaint against the department. The tribunal released its decision in the case of Cindy Blackstock on Friday.
Blackstock is the president of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society which, along with the Assembly of First Nations, launched a human rights complaint in 2007 alleging the federal Aboriginal Affairs department discriminates against First Nations children on the basis of race and national ethnic origin by underfunding child-welfare services on reserves.
In days of yore, kings and queens festooned the castle gates with the severed heads of miscreants who had been executed as a lesson to others who would dare question their authority.
Metaphorically speaking, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has put his own, contemporary stamp on the medieval practice by only reappointing prison ombudsman Howard Sapers to a one-year term. By cutting short what ought to have been a long career, Harper has sent a resounding message to anyone interested in Sapers’ job: Clear-eyed, courageous prison reformers need not apply.
Crockatt, the MP for Calgary Centre, issued a news release Friday urging the new NDP government and Nenshi to access federal infrastructure dollars for the city and province that “are sitting unused.”
She said that while other provinces “have shovels in the ground” for projects funded from Ottawa’s Building Canada fund, Alberta has not given a list of priorities to the federal government.
But Nenshi, who is in Edmonton for the Federation of Canadian Municipalities annual conference, said he asked a room of big-city mayors whether their municipalities had received any funding from the program and none had but Edmonton.