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Hurrying toward dictatorship

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Our so-called leaders speak
With words they try to jail ya —
They subjugate the meek
But it’s the rhetoric of failure

–The Police, Spirits in the Material World

This week I heard the KW Symphony and Jeans’n’Classics play the music of Sting and The Police. That was fantastic.

I also read a lot of political columns about the federal Conservative government is up to. That was the opposite of fantastic.

Earlier in their majority mandate, pundits wondered, why the rush? Why push so many bills through, and why impose time allocation on all of them?

Now that their agenda is becoming clearer, I think we know:

The Harper revolution has never been about abortion or gay rights. This prime minister has little interest in social conservatism.

Rather, the revolution is economic. It is aimed at eliminating regulations—particularly environmental regulations—that interfere in profit-making. It is aimed at reducing wages (which is why the Conservatives take swipes at unions whenever possible). It is aimed at scaling back any social programs—from Old Age Security to Employment Insurance — that help keep wages up.

–Thomas Walkom, Stephen Harper’s stealthy war against wages and the environment

Not quite what they campaigned on, eh? And even though true believers may applaud the efforts to plunder the natural world—they seem to feel that, with fervent enough belief in the capitalist system, one can overcome those pesky biological needs for clean water, air, and food—I’m not sure they’d be as happy about efforts to impoverish them.

So, the Conservatives really have to get all this done as quickly as possible, stifling debate wherever they can, before opposition can really mobilize. Before most people even notice.

Let’s see how many different outrages we heard about—just this week!

1 Denying medical coverage to refugees

2 Working to increase crime rates by cutting rehabilation programs and encouraging prison overcrowding

When the emphasis moves away from corrections toward more and harsher punishment of both the physical and psychological variety, recidivism rates will increase and real correction will become more difficult. That will likely mean more crime over the long haul in a country that, apart from the United States (which is in a league by itself), has one of the highest incarceration rates in the world.

— Jeffrey Simpson, Globe and Mail

3 Rejecting all amendments to the new Copyright Act

This is—believe it or not—a largely good piece of legislation, except for a problematic clause on digital locks. Why not consider amending that?  Far as we can tell, only because the opposition parties brought them forward. I mean, God forbid opposition members actually get to do anything for us in return for our tax dollars.

None of [the defeated] amendments were radical or undermined the goals of the legislation. There is much to like in Bill C-11 but the defeat of provisions designed to improve access for the blind, preserve fair dealing, enhance education, and open the door to innovative services hardly seems like something to celebrate.

— Michael Geist

4 Admitted to dismantling an Environmental advisory group because it recommended a carbon tax

The fact is, a carbon tax is the best way to deal with climate change, so any group serious about it has to advocate for one. The Conservatives have, of course, demonized carbon taxes, so they can’t impose them now. So instead they are trying a “regulatory” approach, Communist style, which as we see, doesn’t work. Canada’s carbon emissions just keep going up. Do they care? Apparently, no.

So that’s four pretty big things in one week—but none are the biggest thing. Not by a long shot. No, the biggest thing, quite literally, is the 420-page Omnibus Bill supposedly to “implement the budget”, but in fact, doing a whole lot of other things as well.

(Which, of course, they immediately imposed time allocation on. Why would anyone need any extra time at all to review 420 pages of confusingly worded new laws?)

This bill, among so other things:

  • Repeals the Fair Wage act.  [You didn’t want a fair wage, did ya?]
  • Repeals the Environmental Assessment act.
  • Makes some kind of changes to EI. We’re not sure what, really. We’ll tell you eventually, after this bill is passed. Trust us. It will be great.
    (Rick Mercer: “How can the gov say we will find out what is in the budget after the budget is voted on? Does that work on other planets?”)
  • Re-writes the Fisheries Act, the Species at Risk Act, and the Navigable Waters Protection Act.

There’s a ton of environmental law changes in here. The thrust of most, from what I can tell, is to get rid of informed government bodies who currently regulate these matters, and move them to uninformed Harper Cabinet to decide . I’m serious.

Writer Richard Poplak wonders why Canadians aren’t angrier about this. Why we aren’t mobilizing.

There’s a bill, called C-38. It’s driven to Parliament on forklifts retrofitted for maximum stealth. This bill, similar at 420 pages in weight and heft to a small pony, is delivered to dead-eyed MPs, behind whom stands the chief whip, taser in hand. The drool-drenched backbenchers nod in unison, and put the bill back on the forklifts for rubber-stamping further down the line.

By not making this the issue of our generation, by not linking this with other efforts calling for responsible governance and respect for democratic institutions–and by not understanding that this trend is not just local, but global–Canadians are rolling over and playing dead.

And why is that?

Well, maybe we’re just a little exhausted from the constant barrage of appalling behavior from our federal government.
Maybe we’re overwhelmed. We just don’t know which of the many outrages to go after first.
Maybe we don’t know how to protest. What would actually work?
Maybe we’re just sick of whole thing. We’ve tuned out. It’s nice out. We have gardening to do.

Unfortunately, that is exactly what Stephen Harper wants.

Speak out against Harper’s budget (NDP)
Harper is ending environmental protection (Liberal)
Environmental Devastation Act (Green Party)
Black Out Speak Out (Environmental groups)
Apologize to the rest of the world

2 thoughts on “Hurrying toward dictatorship

  1. You’ve provided a great summary of disturbing news/events here. trying not to be overwhelmed, yeltnuh

  2. I think one key reason why most CDNs are oblivious to this (and more) is that coverage of what happens in Ottawa isn’t front and centre. Most people barely follow politics at the best of times (e.g. during an election). Ottawa is really far away for most Canadians – they probably pay more attention to local politics (including provincial). In the UK – there’s only one parliament, and I get the sense that there’s a much stronger national media focus and just a general awareness of what’s going on among the general public.

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