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COMMENTARY · 17th April 2011
Al Lehmann
In the Conservative tradition of attack ads, it’s time they got a little of their own back. Although Prime Minister Harper wishes to sell himself to the Canadian electorate as a responsible, competent manager, he has been anything but. Rather he has governed from the standpoint of a paranoid control-freak, ideologically hidebound and willing to go to nearly any lengths to retain his power.

Pick nearly any chunk from the political issue pie. Harper shows himself a dismal failure time after time. On-line journalist Kathleen O’Hara illustrated these failures particularly vividly in a January 5th, 2011, article HERE at

Harper has run one of the most secretive Canadian governments in history, putting the lie to his claim to wish to manage “transparently.” Rather than allow Canada’s alleged participation in the torture of Afghan prisoners be investigated, he prorogued parliament in 2009. Canada’s Information Commissioner found the Conservative government to be extremely uncooperative with Access to Information requests.

Harper tries to promote his party as being one of integrity, squeaky clean. Yet it is his party that has been investigated for systematic attempts to hide questionable national campaign expenses from the 2006 election. The RCMP is also investigating alleged corruption in the awarding of the contract to renovate Parliament Hill’s West Block in 2008, as well as the possibility of illegally leaked cabinet information leading to insider stock market trading.

Harper’s stand on various issues to do with climate change shows him to be essentially a shill for the petroleum industry. His government has consistently impeded international negotiations on the climate change issue; other nations look upon us with annoyed contempt. Meanwhile, he continues to promote expansion of tar sands production. Environment Canada scientists have been muzzled. They have had their websites closed down, and the role the National Science Advisor has been dropped.

Harper wants to spend more than $9 billion on expanding Canada’s prison system, while closing down rehabilitation programs. His government has meanwhile cut back the budget to Grants for the Victims of Crime Initiative. Although Canada’s population is aging and crime rates are down, it seems Harper sees civil enemies everywhere. According to CBC’s The Fifth Estate, at least 20 government departments involve themselves with “national security,” besides CSIS and the RCMP. Even Freud was wise enough to advise mistrust for anyone in whom the urge to punish is strong.

These priorities seem part of the overall package designed to limit, if not eliminate, dissent in this country. What other government in Canadian history blithely spent more than a billion dollars to provide “security” for an international economic meeting? “Security” meant equipping police with military-grade weaponry for tens of thousands of police, and all too often it was used for the physical detainment and/or sexual harassment of more or less benign protestors (or people who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time).

Harper pretends that his government is representative of the ideals of democracy. However, his own MP’s are prevented from speaking out publicly except through managed “talking points.” His government has refused to cooperate with parliamentary committees, and staff members that were once accountable to parliament committees are now prevented from testifying before them. Rather than MP’s, unelected staff in the Prime Minister’s Office are largely responsible for policy decisions. Harper’s government has been held in contempt of parliament for refusing to share information with the elected members of the House of Commons, Canada’s sovereign decision-making power.

Harper imagines himself a competent money manager, but for whom? His HST promotion transfers an increasing tax burden to consumers. Corporations will enjoy a further tax cut, one that is projected to cost the Federal government $5.6 billion annually. So-called “trickle-down economics” are supposed to result in jobs and economic growth. But as in the US, they have resulted in the bloated fortunes of a minority upper class, and the stagnant, if not declining fortunes of the rest of us.

Harper’s decision to purchase new fighter jets for the Canadian armed forces included a “no-bid” contract for Lockheed-Martin at a projected overall cost at estimates as high as $21 billion. What responsible purchaser for any organization does not take bids for massive contracts like this one?!

Canadians deserve more than bland assurances of fiscal probity as motivation to return Harper to power. Indeed, given his irresponsible position on taxation and awarding of government contracts, Harper should be punished at the polls on this issue alone. Given the other dimensions of his government’s poor performance and misbehavior, Canadians would be fools to re-elect Harper.

True, there are still plenty of John Galt wannabe’s trying to manifest Ayn Rand’s cloud cuckoo-land both provincially and nationally in Canada. It’s difficult not to notice, however, that the closer governments come to dismantling their own role in society through lowering taxes and deregulating, the more catastrophic the social damage becomes—economic collapses, mass bankruptcies, higher unemployment, and ever more violent repression such as in Toronto at the G-8 summit.

It is to be hoped that the majority of Canadians are not fools, and that they will not give Harper the majority he so desperately craves. Even limited power has corrupted Harper. It is difficult to imagine what further power would do to him, and to the country.

Harper has shown himself to be militaristic, secretive, fiscally irresponsible, anti-democratic, anti-science, and elitist (in that he supports corporate power and influence at the expense of the common citizen). He does not deserve to remain prime minister of this nation.
Comment by fbreker on 9th January 2012
My vote is to rename Canada Harperland. With his "Ontario" majority well behind, he needs to look ahead to rigging the next election. My guess is electronic voting and Harper is dictator for life. The only probable option would be a military coup ( highly unlikely ) or the next best - split the country west of Ontario, no loss there. Sorry to be cynical, but that is how I see it.
Getting rid of Harper
Comment by Me on 9th January 2012
Whoo, someone else actually notices that Harper is corrupt and a big mistake....but why do Canadians still vote for him? Smarten up Canada Harper is not the lesser evil!!
Comment by Stacey Tyers on 19th April 2011
It is listed as a commentary as opposed to news.

Kind of like a letter to the editor or a guest columnist.
Comment by rod pelletier on 18th April 2011
Dear Mr. Lehmann and Mr. Merv Ritchie,

I understand that the discussion of politics and who should run the country, province, region and locality is as great a topic of conversation in this country as the NHL, but we must be careful as to how we approach this subject when we use a news medium to put forth our opinion. I want you to know that I am a staunch believer in freedom of speech regardless of what is said and whose feelings get hurt but what makes this country unique and different than our southerly nieghbours is that to the most part our news is unbiased and as factual as possible without personal opinion(this was the original intention) rather than using the news medium to support ones opinion or agenda.
I suggest maybe a public forum within this website where people can go and vent, or speak there mind, or have debates about sensitive issues such as these.
A little less personal agenda and or opinion and a little more unbiased, factual GOOD news would be much appreciated and could maybe make a positive difference around here.


It's only a Democracy Until a Majority Government Wins!
Comment by Jennifer Lewis on 18th April 2011
The past has told us that majority governments don't listen to the voting public and the policies put into place under the dictatorship rule, thus discouranging younger people to vote or want to be apart of the process.

For example:

GST, Brian Mulroney
NAFTA, Brian Mulroney
Charolettetown Accord, Brain Mulroney

Sponorship Scandel, Jean Chertien
Long Gun Registry, Jean Chertien

I don't know all the details of the above policies but I do know they were and remain unpopular by the voting public. I am worried about a majority government for Canada and the unpopular expensive policies a majority government would look like to me and my family's quality of life.
Democracy Costs Money
Comment by Stacey Tyers on 18th April 2011
Out voting system is fractured. When the majority of parliament is NOT governing the country there is a problem.

Democracy, is a saving grace. It can be costly when the one in power refuses to allow it to happen. We need to remind ALL politicians they work for us, and if a particular leader forgets that repeatedly and is charged with contempt of parliament, we as Canadians need to sit up and take notice.

This went BEYOND party lines, the fact that all three opposition parties could agree on one thing, this is NOT working for our country, says party lines were set aside to look at the betterment of the people who live here.
Harpers response
Comment by Sandy on 18th April 2011
"A junior staff member made that decision and I was not aware of it." If he doesn't know what his staff members are doing, how can he run the country? I am not voting for a liar.
Stop voting for the Harper Conservatives
Comment by Karen Dedosenco on 18th April 2011
Stop voting for the Harper Conservatives and we won't be going to the polls every two years.

Harper is so hell bent on obtaining that majority that he won't stop manipulating the system. He has been claiming that this election was brought on by the opposition but he is the one in contempt of Parliament, he is the one who has been spewing out campaign ads months before the election was called, he was the one with such a limp budget that no one could support it and he was the one who refused to work with the other parties to come to a mutually agreeable compromise.

Until this country can rid themselves of this dictator we will continue to waste time an money on a fractured Parliament.
toss em out?
Comment by billbraam on 18th April 2011
Ok, to start with I'm quite peeved to have to vote once again as the paliamentary sandbox squabbling gets put to a 300 miilion dollar vote once again. It seems like every election and no matter who is in power we hear the same sort of negative retoric directed at the outgoing prime minister. Wouldn't matter if Mother Teresa was prime minister and someone would find some terrible fault with her. Good grief, can these people we send to Ottawa this time please all just get along and make this great country that we are all too spoiled to notice exists and maybe just maybe save the next election for at at least four years. Thank you
Correction Al
Comment by Barry English on 18th April 2011
a “no-bid” contract for Lockheed-Martin at a projected overall cost at estimates as high as $21 billion
Kevin Page, the parlimentary budget officer has projected the costs of these planes at 30 billion, and military experts in the US where they planes will be made suggest they could be more, up to a high of 115 billion. Also, the planes purchased will come without engines of all things.

Can anyone imagine buying a new car or truck, and having to push it out of the showroom? Can anyone with forethought imagine voting for Harper.?
voting day
Comment by Bryan Notheisz on 17th April 2011
So, am I okay in guessing you are not voting Conservative??
The great thing about Canada is that we can all have our opinion, and get to cast a vote which ever way we like.
Call me stupid, but I'll be voting Conservative, considering the other choices.
bang on assessment
Comment by ron savard on 17th April 2011
You hit the nail on the head Mr. Lehman and let us all hope that the electorate is not as blinded by the rhetoric of the charlatan prime minister as they have been in the past.