LETTERS: Educate yourself before the next vote

If you think that the vote doesn’t matter and all politicians are the same, get off your duff and educate yourself.

I applaud Mark Billesberger and Dianne Varga for their letters about the creeping destruction of Canada’s central institutions and traditions under the autocratic reign of Stephen Harper – assisted by a compliant caucus.

From environmental regulations to scientific research, facilities and libraries to our Supreme Court, to Parliament itself, Harper’s contempt for  Canada and our democratic system is very clear.

Perhaps you feel such alarm is exaggerated; if so, read even part of Michael Harris’s recent book Party of One (in library). As opposed to Bill C-51, the danger we need protection from is home-grown,  residing in the Prime Minister’s Office.

Party of One is very readable, but horrifying in the chapter by chapter documentation of key attacks Harper’s government has made on our institutions and anyone who dares to disagree with the Harper agenda or who simply is no longer useful to him.

This is a PM who was cited for contempt of Parliament; who has changed his story on so many issues so often that a spinning top has nothing on him; who has said when he was still in the Reform Party that he wants to get rid of Medicare, the RCMP and the CBC; and who lauded veterans’ sacrifices for Canada in one speech then dismissed in another speech any responsibility of the government for those veterans’ future care.

As Preston Manning said to Michael Harris, it has been his experience that “Stephen doesn’t think words mean much.”  He appears to care even less about factual truth, a strange stance for a supposedly devout Christian.

The opening chapter on Harper’s rise to power is particularly damning.  In 1997, he gave a (supposedly secret) speech to an extreme Republican organization, the Council on National Policy. The description he gives of the Canadian parliamentary system,  institutions and other parties is contemptuous in the extreme. He also said that the party in power has absolute control over bills passed and policies adopted.

These pages (29-33) were, to me, a clear explanation of Harper’s agenda for the past eight years: eg. the muzzling of his own ministers; truncated  discussion of bills in the house and refusal to amend even with massive country-wide opposition; huge and piecemeal omnibus; and refusal to meet with the provincial premiers, much less the media.

As former PMs, career civil servants and current MPs have said, Harper is well on his way to destroying Canada as a parliamentary democracy with an  opposition whose role is taken seriously.

If you think that the vote doesn’t matter and all politicians are the same, get off your duff and educate yourself about Canada under Harper’s control (literally).

Otherwise, you may well wake up one morning to find you no longer recognize your country and that most of the institutions that make us, in John Ralston Saul’s words, “a fair country” are gone such as Medicare, a public, non-corporate broadcaster (CBC), support for the vulnerable including injured veterans and regulations against mass destruction of our essential natural environment.

Eva Durance

Penticton

 

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