Well, an election which “nobody wanted” but everyone needed is now on fast forward.
It was necessary because the present government had been found in contempt of the democratic process — the budget was really an excuse. It would be good to secure a government less disdainful of voters. Probably the safest way to achieve that would be through a coalition. Harper has said over and over that a coalition would be illegal and unconstitutional. He is wrong, of course. It is a perfectly legal, workable way to govern — as the Scandinavian countries of Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland have discovered. It also works for Italy, Germany, Austria, Belgium and Switzerland. It makes for a good system of checks and balances. Yet Harper has used it a as a scare tactic. He likes to use the Bloc as a boogeyman — though the other two parties did not include the Bloc in their original suggested plans. So let’s set that idea aside — except as a possibility.
Two articles in Canada’s fine magazine, Walrus, need to be considered by serious voters
One (October 2006) explains why Harper will not allow contraception for African women — nor safe abortions for those who have no options. It also explains his opposition to Insite in Vancouver’s East Side — though medical personnel have praised its benefits. But Harper has never listened to experts in any field. He fired Linda Kean rather than accept her recommendation for a nuclear power backup — the lack of which is causing much of Japan’s present nuclear disaster.
The March Walrus has a scathing report on the Harper years. It contrasts the “New Canada” with the “Old Canada” — which was respected by the world. The writer begins with the Richard Colvin information of Canada’s role in the torture of Afghan detainees.
In defiance of the Geneva Convention, Colvin was not only silenced, but threatened — and ordered not to publicize his views. Freedom of speech? Casually dismissed.
Indeed, carefully scripted answers are given out to any caucus member who might be asked an embarrassing question. The local Grandmothers for Africa group was given an audience with Mr. Day — its questions on the need for restructuring CAMR in order to get drugs more cheaply to AIDS sufferers were answered exactly as were similar questions asked by Kamloops Grannies when they approached their member.
The elimination of the long-form census caused a uproar — and rightly so. Those censuses provided evidence needed to consider changes in health and education, and made many NGOs unable to obtain much-needed government assistance. Kairos, an important ecumenical aid group, was accused of being “anti-Semitic” and refused funding. The well-respected Rights and Democracies group was torn apart and discredited. With Canada’s crime rate dropping, Mr Harper is pouring money into new prisons. (I invite you, as further pre-election reading, to dip into Jeffrey Archer’s Prison Diaries — or find his latest short stories, also written in prison.) Canada’s inability to obtain a seat in the United Nations was a reflection of the way our country has slipped in world evaluation.
We need to have a true, free and honest discussion of our nation’s (not Mr. Harper’s) needs. Perhaps proportional representation is the answer. It has been suggested. We cannot go on losing respect overseas — and at home.
Dodi Morrison is a retired educator and freelance Penticton writer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.