In his brilliant essay, 1984 in 2012, Allan Gregg delineates how much Stephen Harper's Party -- for that's what it is -- learned from Orwell. The Harperites, he writes, have systematically sought to destroy reason by working overtime to suppress information: First they nixed the long form census, then the gun registry, and in their budget they cut the custodians of information:
- First up were those toilet counting, privacy violators at Stats Canada – 1⁄2 (not 6 per cent, but 50 per cent) of employees were warned that their jobs were at risk.
- 20 per cent of the workforce at the Library and Archives of Canada were put on notice.
- CBC was told that it could live with a 10-per-cent reduction in their budgetary allocation.
- In what was described as the “lobotomization of the parks system” (G&M – May 21, 2012), 30 per cent of the operating budget of Parks Canada was cut, eliminating 638 positions; 70 per cent of whom would be scientists and social scientists.
- The National Roundtable on the Environment, the First Nations Statistical Institute, the National Council on Welfare and the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Science were, in Orwell’s parlance, “vaporized”; saving a grand total of $7.5 million.
- The Experimental Lakes Area, a research station that produced critical evidence that helped stop acid rain 3 decades ago and has been responsible for some of our most groundbreaking research on water quality was to be shut down. Savings? $2 million. The northernmost lab in Eureka, Nunavut awaits the same fate.
- The unit in charge of monitoring emissions from power plants, furnaces, boiler and other sources is to be abolished in order to save $600,000.
- And against the advice of 625 fisheries scientists and four former federal Fisheries Ministers – saying it is scientifically impossible to do — regulatory oversight of the fisheries was limited to stock that are of “human value."
I have spent my entire professional life as a researcher, dedicated to understanding the relationship between cause and effect. And I have to tell you, I’ve begun to see some troubling trends. It seems as though our government’s use of evidence and facts as the bases of policy is declining, and in their place, dogma, whim and political expediency are on the rise. And even more troubling …. Canadians seem to be buying it.
His point is unmistakable.We are willing passengers on the voyage to tyranny. As long as we allow the Harper government to keep us in the dark, we risk losing our democracy.