Sunday, September 09, 2012

Gregg On Harperland

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."

Gregg writes,

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.


The Mound of Sound said...

From the day he came to power, Harper has been practising Stalinist government. It began when he muzzled the armed forces and public service, forcing even the media to go through political minders (commissars) in the PMO who decided what questions could be asked and then filtered the responses to comport with Harper policy.

Going back to Zacardelli, Harper corrupted the RCMP. With the mid-election Ralph Goodale sham scandal, the RCMP commissioner gave Harper the leg up he needed to win his first minority.

Like the RCMP, Harper has transformed the armed forces and the public service into his personal political agencies. When they are permitted to speak to Canadians, it's Stephen Harper's words that come from their mouths.

When MacKay got caught on his helicopter fishing trip, his compliant minions in the officer corps launched a witch hunt to come up with dirt on opposition MPs. That is just one of a number of partisan political acts performed for the benefit of the Harper regime.

When Canada hosted a climate change conference, government scientists permitted to attend were accompanied by "minders" who monitored who they spoke with and what they said. That's straight out of the North Korean playbook.

In opposition,Harper berated the Libs for supposed secrecy, noting that information is power and accusing the government of using that power against the Canadian public. There has never been a government remotely as secretive, unaccountable and deceitful as the current regime.

I suspect Harper knows his days are numbered which is why he is so blatant in shoving policies and initiatives down our throats. If only he faced the opposition that hounded Mulroney so effectively. No such luck.

Owen Gray said...

Your second to last paragraph is a cogent summary of everything that goes before it, Mound.

And you're right. Harper's only succeeded because he faced such an incompetent opposition.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Gregg, one could read between the lines of your piece and conclude that Mr. Harper should be tried for treason..

Nahhh.... too far-fetched.

Owen Gray said...

I'm sure that thought has crossed the minds of many Canadians, Anon.

Anonymous said...

Harper believes passionately that the government is an obstacle to freedom and that it needs to be reduced to the night watchman state where it has very limited impact of the lives of citizens. He feels that this will allow the true producers of society to flourish and reduce waste.
If we are to oppose this Tea Party ideology we need to do two things. First, we need to avoid demonizing as this plays to Harper's ideology of hate. Second, we need to decide what kind of Canada do we want. We need a grand narrative of what Canada stands for. Harper clearly has his grand narrative but the disparate groups that oppose him only have visceral loathing and will never win an election.

Owen Gray said...

I agree that there is -- out in the country -- a visceral loathing of Harper. But Harper has brought that on himself.

And now his own -- in the form of three of his appointed senators -- have turned on him.