An ongoing conversation between “Gabe” an islander and a political junkie, and “Youth” a young, hesitant newcomer to the weird, whacky and often disturbing world of Canadian politics. Gabe attempts to explain the current situation with the federal government and other political disorders.
Youth: So, now that we’ve had a little over a year of a “strong, stable majority Conservative government”, how do you think Stephen Harper’s government is doing?
Gabe: You say “strong and stable”. I say “repressive and regressive”. And, truth be told, I’m still trying to sort out how less than 25 per cent of all the eligible voters in this country can elect a “majority” government.
Youth: Now, c’mon, aside from a bunch of Robocalls and a few voter eligibility issues, the election was legitimate, so maybe you should just accept that we have a majority Conservative government for the next few years.
Gabe: Legitimate? Possibly. Representative of the will of the people? Nope. That won’t happen until we get some functioning version of a representational electoral system, and I’m fairly confident that the Regressive Reform Ideological Con-servatives don’t see this as a high priority item.
They’re happy with the “first past the post” system we have now. They fear any representational system might lead to the dreaded and frightful coalition – the fearsome beast they used to threaten the politically gullible with if they did not vote for a “strong, stable majority Conservative government”.
Youth: Fine, so maybe we should start talking about adopting a system of representational voting, but why are you referring to this government as regressive and repressive?
Gabe: Been listening to the news lately? These guys have spent the better part of their first year as a majority government closing down programs that promote independent thinking, pressing legislation that would allow them to spy on your activities on the Internet, gagging scientists, closing down research stations, ramming through an omnibus budget that will make changes in more than 60 other areas and generally finding ways to gut any program that doesn’t fit with their myopic, aggressive, intolerant, conservative ideology.
Youth: But if all this is happening, why isn’t there a greater outcry? Why don’t Canadians react more collectively and more insistently?
Gabe: Because the truth is, we still have it better than most other countries on the planet.
The problem is that we don’t see that we are losing our very “Canadian-ness” bit by bit, and this is the dilemma. This approach used to be called “death by a thousand cuts” and it works in the political arena because people often don’t see the connection between a series of individual acts.
Youth: What do you mean death by a thousand cuts?
Gabe: It’s also called “creeping normalcy”. It refers to the way a major negative change, which happens slowly in many unnoticed increments, is not perceived as objectionable or connected.
Youth: So you’re saying that this government is making major negative changes to the way our country is run and we’re not seeing them as either major or harmful?
Youth: So what do you think is the ultimate goal of this government if they really do have an overall strategy?
Gabe: Simple. Harper’s goal is to reduce the role of government, particularly the federal government, opening the field for more corporate and free trade economic opportunities. He is, after all, an economist.
He has pulled Canada out of Kyoto and has weakened the power of government in environmental reviews. He is slashing the size of the federal government and has closed or is weakening other federal government programs. He has labelled environmental and conservation groups as enemies of Canada. He has consciously and methodically diminished our democracy by consolidating power in the Prime Minister’s Office, and consistently curtails debate in Parliament.
He does his best to ignore the facts presented by Kevin Page, the Parliamentary financial watchdog, regarding the F-5 jet purchase and the viability of the Old Age Security program and he is in the process of re-designing the Employment Insurance program to make it subservient to his conservative, economic ideology.
During the first four years of his rule, he silenced fourteen agencies, ombudsmen and commissions because they got in his way. The National Union of Public and General Employees stated in June 2010 that “the motive behind this attack is an attempt by the Harper government to impose a social-conservative agenda on public policy priorities without any public discussion or accountability”.
Youth: So you’re saying that the goal of this government is to become smaller and less powerful?
Gabe: In one way, yes. Harper sees the government as having far too much influence in the economy and society.
Youth: Isn’t this a good thing?
Gabe: Only if you believe in rule by corporations and the survival of the richest.
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