the harper attack on canadian democracy, the long version

Why are we protesting on January 23? Here's the long answer.

Most of us who oppose Stephen Harper's prorogation of Parliament know that this is not the first time the Prime Minister has thumbed his nose at democracy. My own passion, US war resisters in Canada, has been up against it for years. The House of Commons passed a motion calling on the government to stop deporting war resisters and to allow them to stay in Canada, then reaffirmed it with a second majority vote - and both times the Harper government ignored the will of the majority. It's maddening, and it's wrong. In April 2005, as leader of the Opposition, Harper said, "The Prime Minister has the moral obligation to respect the will of Parliament." Indeed, he does.

Of course the war resisters issue is but one example of many. No one can remember every instance - unless we're keeping track. Lucky for us someone was.

Redsock found this amazing post from the Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament Facebook group (now 195,000 strong!). A member commenting as "Defend Parliament" posted a jaw-dropping collection of news stories documenting "The Harper Attack on Canadian Democracy".

What follows is most (but not all!) of "Defend Parliament"'s list. Many thanks to redsock for putting this together, and a million thanks to "Defend Parliament" for stellar citizen journalism!

As you scroll through or read this list, ask yourself this: Have I done everything I can to help make January 23 a success? Is there anything else I can do to help spread the word? NoProrogue.ca.

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How Harper controls the spin
Zeal to manage message sees journalists shunned, bureaucrats, cabinet ministers routinely muzzled. Public appearances by cabinet ministers – whether it's a speech or an interview – are carefully staged, starting with a "message event proposal" vetted by the Privy Council Office, the bureaucratic wing of the Prime Minister's Office (PMO).

PM slaps muzzle on military brass

Hillier, Sr.Officials Muzzled by PMO

Mums the word: Harper tells MPs to keep mouths shut

Tories tighten muzzle on PS [Public Service] for campaign

Former chief justice of Canada accuses PM of trying to "muzzle" the judiciary

'Muzzle' Placed On Federal Scientists

Tories muzzle environmental scientist

Minister stops book talk by Environment Canada scientist

Mum's the word till message vetted
No federal cabinet minister speaks to a journalist, gives a speech or makes a policy announcement until a "message event proposal" has been vetted by a wing of the Prime Minister's Office.

Harper lawsuit smacks of authoritarian state: prof

Holland shocked by Conservative comments on media

Harper government whips Tories into line with secret handbook

Information Commissioner Robert Marleau told The Hill Times recently that the Harper government has been quietly drafting about 25 government policies that impact on the rights of officers of Parliament, and that it has been happening without their knowledge or input.

Conservative headquarters scripting calls to radio shows

Canada slips in 'press freedom' rankings

Torture probe delayed; Tories deny gagging witness

Lawyers seek to gag witnesses in Afghan prisoner inquiry

Has Canada entered a 'Bush-like vortex'?
Richard Colvin's torture allegations suggest civil servants aren't writing down what the government doesn't want recorded

PMO issued instructions on denying abuse in '07 -- Former NATO official says response to reports was 'scripted' in Ottawa

Tories attack credibility of diplomat who blew whistle on torture

Attack on senior diplomat signals demise of independent public service: experts
"If we don't have a public service that speaks truth to power we might as well have everything run out of the Prime Minister’s Office."

Diplomats told to keep quiet on torture allegations, sources say

Former ambassadors condemn Ottawa's attack on diplomat
Response to Colvin's detainee testimony discourages honest reports, letter says

Public service in crisis over Colvin
The Harper government's attack on a senior diplomat could be the final blow in the unravelling of Canada's once-sacred tradition of an independent, non-partisan public service, warn experts

Afghan detainee watchdog warns of Tory 'chilling effect'
Departing military commission chief's comments come as Harper government digs in its heels in face of parliamentary order to turn over confidential files

Feds refuse legal funding to whistleblower diplomat

Feds tried to order nuclear regulator to bend rules

Conservatives stop funding for learning organization

Ottawa is cutting off public input into climate-change policy

Tory candidate dumped for frank TV comments: Mused riding wouldn't get infrastructure cash because it's Liberal-held

Gov't program wants job applicants' views on Tory budget

Insults, discourtesy and disrespect mark Harper team's behaviour:
Targets have included AIDS activists, Nobel Prize winners and Road to Avonlea star

PM Never Too Busy For a Photo OP
Summoning hordes of photographers to document your every move following a massive humanitarian disaster, and then not letting reporters ask questions seems very disingenuous, and a little ridiculous. The intent is obviously to make Mr. Harper look Prime Ministerial, but I think if the public knew the context behind the images they were seeing they would feel exactly the opposite.

What's Wrong With This Picture
The PMO is sending out a steady stream of publicity photos in the hope they will be used in newspapers and blogs across the country. But photojournalists believe Harper's handlers are going too far in trying to control his image


Watchdog blasts Tories for secrecy obsession: Information chief challenges Ottawa to ease 'stranglehold'

Watchdog alarmed by Harper's information clampdown
Canada's information watchdog says the public knows less than ever about what its government is doing

Government secrecy 'grim,' watchdog says

Ottawa nixes bid to expand transparency

Tories blasted for secrecy on stimulus cash

Ottawa seeks secrecy in Tamil migrant case


Siddiqui: Harper acting like an elected dictator

Gomery slams Harper for ignoring him
The man who investigated the sponsorship scandal says Prime Minister Stephen Harper seems to have abandoned any commitment he once had to transparent government in favour of a top-down style that centralizes power in his own hands.

Gomery slams increasing power of PM's office

Failure to decentralize PMO power poses danger to democracy: Gomery


Ottawa moves to block detainee-transfer hearings [2008]

Redactions hamper Afghan detainee probe [2009]
Unreadable documents make meaningful inquiry 'almost impossible' and reflect government efforts to keep record a secret

Ottawa won't release Afghan documents
Harper government says it will not comply with Opposition motion passed by Parliament

Tories to ignore vote on releasing prisoner reports

Parliament in showdown with Harper government over Afghan documents

Tories refuse to release uncensored documents on Afghan detainees

Tories force shutdown of hearing on torture [2009]
Opposition blasts boycott as whistleblower readies rebuttal to Ottawa today

Ritz avoids listeria joke questions at agriculture debate

Promised listeriosis probe still lacks investigator

Harper government withholds listeriosis notes

Did lag in releasing listeriosis notes break law?

Tories opened patronage doors before election: CP
Harper, who railed against Liberal patronage in the 2006 election, later failed to deliver on a campaign pledge to put an independent commission in charge of vetting cabinet appointments. He angrily shelved the idea after opposition MPs refused to ratify his nomination of Gwyn Morgan, a Calgary oil baron who is also a friend of the prime minister, as the commission chair.

Prentice defends use of government jet
An analysis of federal air travel by a French-language television network found that 15 ministers had used the private plane 72 times after four years in office, including 31 trips that did not appear to meet government criteria for use of the plane.

Tories stall on Liberal request for jet passengers
The Harper government says it is unable to provide the names of passengers who have flown on its fleet of Challenger executive jets since 2006 because it would take longer than a month-and-a-half to assemble the list.


People don't care about Afghan detainee issue: Harper

PM's former adviser accused of peddling access to corridors of power

PM ignores fixed-election date law

Conservatives confusing public on 'in and out' financing says Prof. MacIvor

RCMP raids Tory party headquarters
The Conservatives insist the transactions were legal but Elections Canada disagrees and rival parties have labeled the scheme outright fraud

Tories overspent on election by $1M: warrant

Tory dissenters 'idiots, turds'
Workers on the campaign of a Conservative MP who declined to participate in the in-and-out advertising scheme in the 2006 election were denounced as "idiots" and a "bunch of turds" by senior party officials, who wanted to "put the fear of God" into them for not taking part in the contentious TV and radio purchases.

Tory MP admits he broke elections law

Tory MP derides jobless as 'no-good bastards'
MPs' comments on unemployed, abortion show party's 'meanness,' opposition critics say

Finley under fire for 'lucrative' jobless comment
Conservative government has no interest in increasing Employment Insurance payments and making it "lucrative" for jobless workers to sit around the house

"In terms of the unemployed... don't feel particularly bad for many of these people. They don't feel bad about it themselves, as long as they're receiving generous social assistance and unemployment insurance."
Stephen Harper, Speech to the [American] Council for National Policy, June 1997

PM's Jewish pitch hits a new low, critics say Tory flyer suggests Liberals are anti-Semitic

"... new book made the claim that former Conservative MP Chuck Cadman was essentially offered financial inducements [a $1 million life insurance policy] by Conservative party officials to vote down the Liberal government's 2005 budget ... Chuck Cadman's widow [a current Conservative MP] has said her late husband told her about the offer. Two other family members say Cadman told them the same thing ..."
Quoted from "Dion, Harper clash over Cadman allegations"

PM's cutback plan: Choke rival parties

NDP considers legal action after Tories tape private meeting

Recreational stimulus favours Tory ridings

Tory ridings get more stimulus money

Stimulus funds forget high jobless areas

Lobbying czar probes firm with ties to Tories

Raitt accused of expense abuse: She improperly approved her London trip, Port Authority's former chair says

Why were port authority board minutes altered?
Documents approved in December 2008 differ greatly from those rewritten and approved six months later, Star examination finds

Raitt under fire for calling cancer, isotope crisis 'sexy

Tories overstate cost of Liberal EI plan: budget office

Tory attack on carbon tax is dishonest: economist

Harper won't rule out carbon tax

Tories outspent Liberals on consultants
The Conservative government spent almost $1 billion on consultants in its first two years in office – nearly double what the Liberals spent in a similar time period

PM's pal gets government job
Appointment to board of directors is geologist's third posting to be criticized for favouritism

Tory MP who led anti-drug campaign charged with cocaine possession

Tories spend 5 times more on ads than H1N1 prevention

Tories reject fast-tracking of sentencing bill
Conservatives rejected a bid Thursday to expedite a key piece of their tough-on-crime agenda, even as they continued to bash Liberal senators for holding up the legislation

Canada quietly asks EPA to weaken anti-pollution measures

Ethics czar to investigate Tory logos on cheques

Taxpayers on hook for $1.7-million as PMO rolls out video
Extra funding requested to help bolster Stephen Harper's communications support services

Tories spend $108,000 on 1-hour event
The Conservative government spent more than $100,000 staging a one-hour event in June to provide an update on its economic recovery program

John Baird won't let truth blunt a good barb
For second consecutive day, Transport Minister misquotes Liberal defence critic in fending off criticism on Afghan detainee torture allegations

Climate walkout 'certainly happened'
Despite minister's denial, email confirms incident

Flaherty's deficit plan: Take an axe and cut deep
'I've done it before,' in Harris-era Ontario

Tory suspended for comments about dead soldier's father is back on job

Harper was in on the ground floor of coalition building
Ironically, it was Stephen Harper who first brought the option of vaulting to power from the benches of the official Opposition to the fore in the early days of Paul Martin's 2004 minority regime. Even before the presentation of Martin's Speech from the Throne, Harper had sought out his two opposition rivals to lay the groundwork of an alliance to unseat the Liberals.

Bloc part of secret coalition plot in 2000 with Canadian Alliance

Tory aide tried to scuttle Hanukkah event: organizer

Harper zigzags on economy
For the past three months, the only thing consistent about Prime Minister Stephen Harper's position on the economy has been its inconsistency


"Canada appears content to become a second-tier socialistic country, boasting ever more loudly about its economy and social services to mask its second-rate status..."
Stephen Harper, National Post editorial, 2000

"It may not be true, but it's legendary that if you're like all Americans, you know almost nothing except for your own country, which makes you probably knowledgeable about one more country than most Canadians."
Stephen Harper, Speech to the [American] Council for National Policy, June 1997

"Canada is a Northern European welfare state in the worst sense of the term, and very proud of it."
Stephen Harper, Speech to the [American] Council for National Policy, June 1997

"Whether Canada ends up as one national government or two national governments or several national governments, or some other kind of arrangement is, quite frankly, secondary in my opinion ..."
Stephen Harper, Speech to the Colin Brown Memorial Dinner, National Citizens Coalition, 1994

"If Ottawa giveth, then Ottawa can taketh away ... This is one more reason why Westerners, but Albertans in particular, need to think hard about their future in this country. After sober reflection, Albertans should decide that it is time to seek a new relationship with Canada ... Having hit a wall, the next logical step is not to bang our heads against it. It is to take the bricks and begin building another home – a stronger and much more autonomous Alberta. It is time to look at Quebec and to learn. What Albertans should take from this example is to become 'maitres chez nous'."
Stephen Harper, National Post, December 8, 2000

"You've got to remember that west of Winnipeg the ridings the Liberals hold are dominated by people who are either recent Asian immigrants or recent migrants from eastern Canada: people who live in ghettoes and who are not integrated into western Canadian society."
Stephen Harper, The Report newsmagazine, January 22, 2001

"I think in Atlantic Canada ... there is a culture of defeat that we have to overcome. ... Atlantic Canada's culture of defeat will be hard to overcome as long as Atlantic Canada is actually physically trailing the rest of the country."
Stephen Harper, New Brunswick Telegraph Journal, May 29, 2002



RCMP raids Tory party headquarters
The Conservatives insist the transactions were legal but Elections Canada disagrees and rival parties have labeled the scheme outright fraud

Tories oppose Bloc motion supporting Elections Canada


PM's 'bizarre' report card under attack
Critics charge that not only are his claims that he and the Conservatives saved the economy meaningless, his pattern of disdain for Parliament reached new levels when he upstaged his finance minister and delivered the [economic] update while overseas.


April 27, 2007
Reports confirm Canada's complicity in Afghan state torture

November 15, 2007
'Credible' case of torture found in Afghanistan

Transfer of detainees is complicity in torture

Conservatives 'fume' about blunder
Their blades remain sheathed but astonished Conservatives are quietly fuming about the tactical blunder they fear could toss them into opposition. And the blame seems to be landing on the prime minister's doorstep.

Harper to blame for political crisis

Canadian Leader Shuts Parliament
Canada's parliamentary opposition reacted with outrage on Thursday after Prime Minister Stephen Harper shut down the legislature until Jan. 26, seeking to forestall a no-confidence vote that he was sure to lose ...



Canada contradicts climate change consensus at Commonwealth

Canada falling behind U.S. in clean-energy efforts: experts

No faith in Harper on climate

Harper lies low in Copenhagen

Prentice hints there may be 'special breaks' for tarsands

Ontario and Quebec slam Ottawa on climate

Prentice delivers Canada's unpopular position
Harper leaves it to his Environment Minister to present plenary session

Harper lays low, Prentice addresses UN in Copenhagen

Groups declare Canada world's biggest environmental offender at climate talks

Canada's a joke at climate talks



Canada handed over innocent Afghans to torture: diplomat


Tories attack credibility of diplomat who blew whistle on torture

Canada generals deny ignoring Afghan abuse warnings
Generals say crucial reports did not mention torture "Ludicrous" to say most detainees abused – general


PMO issued instructions on denying abuse in '07
Former NATO official says response to reports was 'scripted' in Ottawa

Diplomats told to keep quiet on torture allegations, sources say

Many detainees were just farmers, Afghan official says

Detainee ties to insurgency could not always be established: Afghan agency

Canadians warned early that Afghan detainees faced torture

EU diplomat backs claims on torture
Canadian's warnings on Afghan detainees reflected common view, says his European colleague

Dutch raised concerns over conditions in 2006: Netherlands suggested a separate facility

Coalition allies faulted Canada over handling of detainees
Complaint was lodged over secretive approach on captures as early as summer of 2006

Red Cross warned Canada of Afghan prison abuse

Afghans rejected Canadian-captured prisoners for 'insufficient evidence'

Hillier accused of 'trivializing' torture at detainees hearing

The record and the falsehoods: The government's insistence it knew nothing about the torture of Afghan detainees becomes more and more tenuous

Canada defended Afghan 'human-rights abuser,' memos allege

Canada kept feared Afghan governor in power despite rep as 'human-rights abuser'


Government denies liability in torture cases despite report

Tories reject call for Afghan torture inquiry
No proof detainees were tortured, defence minister says


Proof of detainee abuse exists, despite MacKay's denials

Ex-ambassadors condemn gov't on detainee issue

Warnings on detainees were e-mailed to MacKay's office

MacKay's office got Red Cross warnings about Afghan treatment

Documents confirm whistleblower's emails were sent to then-Foreign Affairs minister Peter MacKay's office

Why was Harper so blind to abuse?


Natynczyk makes major reversal on detainee story


Harper government changes tune on Afghan prisoner issue
MacKay says Tories were aware of concerns and began to act shortly after taking office

Heavily-censored Afghan abuse memos released
Documents confirm whistleblower's emails were sent to then-Foreign Affairs minister Peter MacKay's office


Parliament in showdown with Harper government over Afghan documents

Ottawa won't release Afghan documents
Harper government says it will not comply with Opposition motion passed by Parliament, setting stage for legal battle

Tories to ignore vote on releasing prisoner reports

Tories refuse to release uncensored documents on Afghan detainees

Conservative boycott shuts down Afghan detainee hearing

Tories force shutdown of hearing on torture
Opposition blasts boycott as whistleblower readies rebuttal to Ottawa today



PM suspends Parliament


Democracy diminished, accountability avoided
By suspending Parliament, Stephen Harper allows the governing party to elude the detainee issue, a move that undermines the democratic rights of the people

Prorogation redux: Harper in contempt of Parliament
His request to shut down the House again undermines Canada's democratic institutions

The Economist vents spleen on PM's decision to prorogue
"His officials faced grilling by parliamentary committees over whether they misled the House of Commons in denying knowledge that detainees handed over to the local authorities by Canadian troops in Afghanistan were being tortured. The government would also have come under fire for its lack of policies to curb Canada's abundant carbon emissions."

'Harper goes prorogue,' The Economist laments
"Never mind what his spin doctors say: Mr. Harper's move looks like naked self-interest," says the editorial. The editorial likens Canadian ministers to hapless former U.S. president Gerald Ford, "who could not walk and chew gum at the same time."

Afghans violating detainee-transfer agreement
A number of insurgents handed over to Afghan police can't be accounted for, despite Ottawa's assertion transfer


CBC Report on Conservatives' leaked "dirty tricks manual"
Only days after filibustering several committees, a leaked document seems to prove the Conservative government has been deliberately wrecking havoc. ... Spring of 2007: a Conservative manual to purposely and deliberately disrupt and make the government committees dysfunctional. ...

The Harper government has failed to help a number of Canadian citizens in trouble outside the country.

The Harper government resorted to dirty tricks to try to dismantle the Canadian Wheat Board.

101 Reasons not to vote for the Conservative Party (video)


Message from Defend Parliament:
I've been saving these links for a few years and finally found a forum to paste them. I've organized them in a logical way, which I hope shows a persistent pattern of attack on Canada's democratic institutions, of which the latest prorogation is only the latest example. The scale of this attack is truly frightening! As you can see from the sheer volume of HEADLINES and LINKS alone (with very little content) that fear for our democracy should not be limited to a few paranoid types or to anyone of a particular political persuasion but to anyone that cares about living in a free society. ...

Conservatives and supporters often try to blame the Liberals before them, or someone else. ... But it wasn't until the Conservative government was in power than problems began to surface (and it was the Conservatives who did nothing about the problems) Fact: General Rick Hillier, acting on his own or not as the case may be, signed a deeply flawed agreement to turn over detainees to the Afghan authorities in December 2005, during an election campaign. The Conservatives were elected a month later. Instances of mistreatment were reported by Richard Colvin to his superiors, first in May 2006, and well into 2007.


"The first principle of a democracy is that the Prime Minister is supposed to be able to face this House of Commons any day on a vote. This government now has the deliberate policy of avoiding a vote. This is a violation of the most fundamental constitutional principle of our democracy."
Stephen Harper as Leader of the Opposition, attacking the Martin government, May 3, 2005

"When a government starts trying to cancel dissent or avoid dissent is frankly when it's rapidly losing its moral authority to govern."
Stephen Harper, Canadian Press, April 18, 2005

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