On September 19, I asked wmtc readers to finish this sentence: "We don't want another Harper Government because..."
Here are our answers so far.
[I omitted banter, and occasionally edited comments for grammar or sense. And thank you all so much for your contributions.]
L-girl: We don't want another Harper government because we want people of conscience who refused to participate in the invasion and occupation of Iraq to be able to stay in Canada.
PeterC: The SPP and harmonizing our food inspectors with the rest of North America. Then laughing about it with the rest of his party.
James: He's already fixed the date of Federal elections... How long before he takes a page from his pal Dubya's book and starts fixing the elections themselves?
Stephanie: No more militarization.
PeterC: First deficit in many years. Conservative track record at managing the economy poorly. I think those fit under poor economic management no matter what sweater vest says.
Lizt: No more downing everything to the Provinces, selling off our federal buildings, and dissolving Canada as we know it.
Ryan: "Kyoto is a money-sucking socialist scheme" - Steve
Canrane: Cutting the court challenges program (at a grand total of 300 million, or something like that) because we need to tighten our purse strings...yet we somehow have money for 20+ billion (*billion*) for military spending.
West End Bob: We want an immigration policy with rules and parameters, rather than one based on the whims of the Immigration Minister, Diane Finley in this case.
PeterC: Ritz's insensitivity to the families of whom the conservative policy of "producer inspect" has killed the loved ones.
The selection of campaign teams and managers who would insult Aboriginals with "drunken incest" comments, say comments from a dead soldier's father are politically motivated and otherwise drag us down in the the bully mentality.
I think this fits in a "MEAN" category.
Dale Landry: Here's a good one. He'll send me to jail.
Canrane: Hurting Canada's standing internationally by unilaterally reversing decades of standard operating procedure (and this crosses party lines. He's flying in the face of what was done even during Brian Mulroney's time).
For example, unequivocally siding with Israel during the Lebanon conflict, heavy-handed dealings with China to the point where we lose what little leverage we may have had, obstructionism in UN talks on everything from climate change to asbestos, failing to appeal on behalf of Canadians on death row in foreign countries, only appealing on the behalf of Canadians on death row in *certain* countries and thus exposing us to criticisms of hypocrisy...
Lisa: Axing funding to the Court Challenges Program.
What the hell is the point in having a Charter of Rights if people can't afford the lawyers!
Save the Court Challenges Program of Canada
[Dupe included for emphasis and link!]
JakeNCC: He will continue to gut arts and culture funding including the CBC. Who needs news and culture from a Canadian perspective when we can now watch FOX this and FOX that.
Impudent Strumpet: I'd kind of like a government that doesn't completely disregard me based on my demographics.
Jen: Insite*. Or lack thereof.
* In all possible meanings and spellings of the word.
Scott M: Harper changed the policy of asking for clemency for EVERY person sentenced to the death penalty, choosing instead to not ask for clemency from countries who have a "fair system".
Of course any country we ask for clemency from now, understandably, takes it as a diplomatic insult to be asked and considers us to have a double standard.
Harper has subsequently taken away our moral authority to request that our citizens not be murdered overseas as a result of EITHER a fair OR unfair justice system.
DeanG: He's caused people in other countries to think of Canada as allied with the US right wing exemplified by Bush and thus caused people to think less of Canada: Diminished Canada's international reputation.
Redsock: On June 3, the House of Commons passed a resolution stating that Iraq war resisters from the US should be allowed to stay legally in Canada.
However, Harper has given the finger to democracy. He has chosen to behave as a dictator, believing that his opinion rules above all others, willfully ignoring the wishes of Parliament and a clear majority of the Canadian people.
JakeNCC: If Harper had been prime minister in 2003 we would to this day have our soldiers dying in Iraq. He's never met an American war he didn't want to support with Canadian blood.
He has a hard-on for America and wishes to Americanize our country at every level.
Impudent Strumpet: I'd also prefer a government that doesn't interrogate or fire people for doing their jobs as required by law.
Scott M: Here's an economic one: Harper committed to NOT tax income trusts. Then, in his first year, he did a 180 saying that if they didn't tax income trusts major corporations like Bell Canada would get out of paying corporate taxes by converting to income trusts.
This, of course, is true but ignores that most people pay taxes when the distributions of the income trusts are removed from their RRIF/RRSP etc, resulting in MILLIONS of dollars of revenue.
So yeah, he stopped Bell Canada from becoming an income trust. Bell, who still needed to change it's corporate structure, was instead bought by a pension plan and turned private.
Now, Bell is not paying any taxes at all. The pension plan doesn't pay them either.
Oh, and don't forget, billions of dollars of equity was blown away by the markets when the taxes were announced. Who got affected? The senior citizens who bought income trusts in the last two years, egged on by Stephen Harper actively promoting them while promising he'd never tax them.
L-girl: Because $100/month - taxable - does not provide child care.
David Heap: Because of the obscene amounts they spent on military recruitment (the Canadian Forces seem to own all the bus shelter ad space in our city...). This includes making the best-funded federal youth training program a series of free "cadet camps" for teens (younger than recruitment age) to learn how much fun it is to be a soldier.
Not to mention the vast amounts spent on PR to "sell the war" in Afghanistan to a skeptical public.
L-girl: Because we don't want reproductive freedom chipped away by stealth, as bills supposedly about justice actually redefine a fetus as a legal human being. See C-484 and C-537.
Kim_in_TO: Because Harper doesn't care about cities - the economic engines of the country. Didn't he basically tell cities to go to hell? And he wonders why he doesn't have any support in Toronto...
John F: Under Harper, Canada has stopped insisting that people it extradites not be subjected to the death penalty. If he gets a majority, I think the government will start flying trial balloons about bringing back the death penalty in Canada.
Kim_in_TO: Because if Harper had his way, gays wouldn't be allowed to marry.
Mister Anchovy: My old pal Candy Minx posted the following quote from Harper back at my place, and I think it sums things up: "The establishment came down with a constitutional package which they put to a national referendum. The package included distinct society status for Quebec and some other changes, including some that would just horrify you, putting universal Medicare in our constitution, and feminist rights, and a whole bunch of other things."
- Conservative leader Stephen Harper, then vice-president of the National Citizens Coalition, in a June 1997 Montreal meeting of the Council for National Policy, a right-wing American think tank.
It seems some people think he's changed. Let's not be lulled into a false sense of security just because he's run an impotent minority government for a couple years.
Kim_in_TO: Because he has already stated that he will run the government as a dictatorship - oops, I mean "majority", even if he doesn't get a majority. This is essentially what he has been doing all along (note the refusal to honour the majority House vote on the war resisters), so we shouldn't have any doubts.
Jen: Because he puts in ministers who don't have even a basic handle on the areas they cover, then muzzle the ministers so Canadians can't hear how under-qualified they are (until they speak at some organization, like say, the Canadian Medical Association).
Lisa: We don't want another Harper government because Harper et al try to capitalize on the politics of fear, and, are apparently PROUDLY irrational:
"Prime Minister Stephen Harper has dismissed empirical evidence that crime rates are actually falling, suggesting that emotion is a more telling barometer. Harper has cast those who point to statistics to oppose elements of the Tory law-and-order agenda as apologists for criminals.
"(They) try to pacify Canadians with statistics," he told party supporters in January.
"Your personal experiences and impressions are wrong, they say; crime is really not a problem. These apologists remind me of the scene from the Wizard of Oz when the wizard says, 'Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain."'
Sarah Gates: I don't want you guys to have another Harper Government because I don't want there to be ANY nations that enable my pathetic excuse for a government the way Harper likes to. If we're going to be the total assholes on the global block, we shouldn't have back up.
James: [snip from longer comment] Your personal experiences and impressions are wrong, they say
That's why science exists: because people's personal experiences and impressions are often wrong, and the only way to know what's really going on is to tests your impressions against reality to find out if they are actually right or not.
Harper (like Bush and like McCain) favours the "decisive, from the gut" style of decision making. And with our Arctic waters ice-free, this is not the time to to hand leadership to someone who trusts his intestines' decision-making abilities over scientific study.
Nicholas: The Conservative Party runs candidates that make fun of people's deaths and wish for their opponents to die; thinks that all Natives are disruptors and alcoholics; believes that gay people support promiscuity, drug use and prostitution...oh and that abortion should be banned, concealed weapons should be allowed and hate-crimes be abolished.
Kim_in_TO: Because Harper talks about transparency, but instead muzzles the press - restricting and decreasing reporters' access to politicians.
David Heap: Because he puts in ministers who don't have even a basic handle on the areas they cover
And Parliamentary Assistants, i.e., MPs who are supposed help ministers with their portfolios. Specifically (just for a few examples) his 2006 appointments included:
A P.A. for status of women who is a man.
A P.A. for La francophonie who doesn't speak French.
A P.A. for Fisheries from landlocked Saskatchewan.
So much willful incompetence adds up to deliberate slaps in the face for the many many constituencies which don't matter to Harper's government.
Mason: ...this beautiful country has taken decades and spent billions of dollars instigating policies and procedures encouraging the development of unique Canadian arts, broadcast and influence to protect itself from a cultural invasion from the United States and to throw that all away with the election of a mini-me George Bush and conservative party would rip at the very core of this country's foundation: Peace, Order and Good Government!
M@: The Harper government worked to reclassify lakes to enable private companies to turn them into tar sands tailing ponds.
As if our lakes -- and our fresh water supply -- weren't under enough pressure from pollution.
I'm not sure to what extent they have succeeded at this. The futures of many of the 16 lakes were in doubt, but I haven't seen anything about this in the media since the story originally broke.
M@: Harper provided a handbook to his MPs explaining how they could disrupt the work of parliamentary committees.
L-girl: Because his government will erode women's rights by stealth.
Stephanie: Because this Government is way too closely aligned with that other Conservative Government that brought us Free Trade during the era of Reaganomics.
Harper and his cronies are lining up at the trough smacking their lips at the promise of $$$.
Impudent Strumpet: Correct me if I'm wrong, I don't know a lot about economics, but if I'm reading this right he seems to think that the economy will collapse if you don't believe in it.
Also, speaking as an ordinary working person, I don't much appreciate being told what I do and don't want to see by someone who is never exposed to ordinary people.
L-girl: Because, although his 2006 campaign was all about government transparency and accountability, he governs the same way he campaigns: by stealth.
M@: One big reason here, and it has a lot of sub-reasons but I think it's worth describing in detail.
The appointment of Michael Fortier to the senate is one of the major reasons I would not vote for Harper in this or any election.
First, it was a cynical move to try to increase Quebec representation in his cabinet, despite having very few qualified MPs in Quebec.
Second, it broke a promise he made in 2005, that he would not appoint any senators without first enacting senate reform.
Third, he appointed Fortier as the Minister of Public Works. This is the very same ministry where the Liberal sponsorship scandal happened. And Harper's response was to appoint a minister who does not answer to parliament, and in fact never has to address parliament.
While we're on the topic -- like Harper's fixed election date law, his proposed senate reform actually does nothing; we would need a constitutional change to get any real senate reform, and no one is dumb enough to try that right now. But any reform Harper might propose just shows how cynically Harper used the existing system when it suited him.
(Side note: when I received a flyer from my (CPC) MP about the CPC plans for senate reform, I wrote his office, demanding to know whether they were serious, in light of the Fortier affair, or whether their pre-campaign had turned into some kind of satirical Dadaist art project. Turns out they were serious -- I hounded him till he answered and will keep the letter until he's out of office.)
M@: Another one -- also from Harper's first day in office: the courting of David Emerson.
Again, Harper contradicted his previous stand against floor-crossers (although of course he never said he'd forbid it or anything). However, to court someone from the opposition to join your party -- before they had even taken their seat in the new parliament -- is outright opportunism and a complete lack of ethics.
It has also led to the citizens of Emerson's ridings being all but unrepresented in the last parliament, because Emerson ended up being so afraid of them that he refused to meet with them and rarely was in his riding office.
A clear and complete lack of honesty and ethics on all sides. What's more, it shows how little confidence Harper had in his caucus, when he was forced to go outside it -- twice -- to find people qualified to be ministers. And people like Rona Ambrose just showed him how right he was.
M.: ...because if this election is won by borrowing from the Republican playbook, we may never have another that isn't.
M@: Yet another reason: Harper's attempts to thwart elected opposition MPs in representing the citizens who elected them.
An MP in British Columbia issued a news release telling the citizens of an NDP riding that they should go to an unelected CPC representative to get their issues brought up in parliament.
Harper isn't interested in parliament, and he's willing to subvert the will of the people at every turn if it gets him what he wants.
M@: In 2006, the CPC cut funding for Status of Women Canada.
The government rewrote the statement of purpose for the organization, too, and removed the word "equality" from the updated statement.
A shameful attitude of contempt for women is pervasive in this government. To think the minister responsible for SWC at the time was a woman!
M@: The CPC is using the RCMP as its election campaign bodyguards -- not just for candidates' safety, as is the RCMP's mandate, but to control the access of reporters to those candidates as well.
With the many problems in the RCMP on display these days (corruption, tasers, refusal to testify to parliament, etc), a responsible government would be working to rein in the organization and reform it so that it has an appropriate mandate, and fulfills it on the behalf of Canadians.
This government is using the federal police force as a private security force.
Winston Churchill once said that the truth is so precious, it must travel with a bodyguard of lies. With this government, the lies are so important they must travel with true bodyguards.
Lisa: "because if this election is won by borrowing from the Republican playbook, we may never have another that isn't" is one of my biggest fears. Attack ads, weird focus on leaders, wedge issues, insane and insaner partisanship and hardened ideological perspectives...this is why, as much as I would like to see the Cons dumped, I am not really enjoying this election.
We don't want another Harper government because we don't want this negative shift in how politics is done here to become permanent. This ideological narrowness and partisanship is limiting intelligent dialogue, and more practically, Harper seems hellbent on eliminating political choices!
Uniting the right may have been a good strategic move, but I totally mourn the loss of the Progressive Conservatives, not because I'm on the left and uniting the right has worked against us, but because I actually appreciated the PCs. I kills me that Joe Clark feels politically homeless. And now that they've taken care of the Progressive Conservatives, all they apparently care about is decimating the Liberal Party.
That's their vision?? Is that all they've got? We hate the Liberals, that's our platform.
I know a lot of the Canadian left won't be crying many tears if the Liberals fall apart, but this radically fast dismantling of our traditional political parties is unsettling me!
Lisa: I'm going to cheat and post a list I totally stole from a Globe and Mail comment (of all places!) a few months ago, but still worth mentioning:
FIRED the president of CNSC
FIRED the president of the Wheat Board
FIRED the ambassador to the Environment
FIRED the Ethic Commissioner
FIRED the Law Commissioner
FIRED the Director General of Elections Canada
FIRED the Information Commissioner
FIRED the Defense Ombudsman
FIRED the Language Commissioner
FIRED the Immigration Board president
FIRED the Chief Electoral Officer
FIRED the National Science adviser"
If you look into the backstories of all of these examples, they are all ultimately: partisan, partisan, assuming all bureaucrats are as partisan as you, ideology, partisan...SCARY!
Deb Prothero: Harper has abused the future right or ability of parliamentarians to communicate effectively with their constituents by overusing and abusing the 10% flyers with partisan messages to the extent that Canadians are outraged and will expect the next government to curtail their use.
Deb Prothero: Harper deliberately lies to the electorate repeating these lies directly to Canadians even though they have been refuted by the opposition parties and the media.
Deb Prothero: Harper has refused to respect the process of a Canadian election by putting forth any plan for discussion.