"A Citizen"s Eye View"

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Why Harper-Con Values are Distinctly Un-Canadian (Part Two)

Actions Speak Louder than Words:

In the first part of this article, I focused on two key facets of the Harper "persona" and how they shaped his party's values. With absolute power over a party that is Conservative in name only, I highlighted the fact that  when Harper mentions Conservative Values, he is really referring to his own.  I also talked about Harper's devout Evangelical faith and how the Harper-Con values are firmly rooted in right-wing Christian Fundamentalism. Of course, I had to contrast the Harper-Con  against the Canadian Values I grew up with and why the two are absolutely nothing alike.

As I mentioned in Part One, Canadians are generally considered to be a pretty "stoic" lot. It comes with our harsh extremes of climate I suppose. One can't change the weather so one might as well make the best of it. Also born of that stoicism is our "live and let live" attitude toward life and those with whom we share the planet. As such, we tend to be a very egalitarian bunch. It's cool to be, think, look like or believe in anything we desire. It's even cool to share in and partake of our diverse range of human experiences. It is very un-cool however, to force anyone to think, live or be anything or anyone they don't want to be such  as the social order the Harper-Cons seem hell-bent on inflicting upon our country. That in a nut shell is oppression. And nothing awakens us from our stoic existence to dizzying heights of unequaled passion, like the glorious fight against oppression....that and a hard fought game of hockey of course.

So because of our attitude towards life and our "Earth-Mates", Canadians tend to have a good reputation through out the world as being good citizens not just of Canada, but of  the global community as well. And we put such stock in being good citizens and maintaining good relations with almost everyone, that these concepts are introduced and reinforced in our schools. We try to "teach" what it is to be a good citizen. And central to the concept, is "ethics".

The Canadian concept of ethical behaviour is really nothing new. Many of our most treasured values can be found in the Ten Commandments. Don't lie, don't cheat, don't steal, don't kill and don't covet your neighbor's ass. So noble have we come to think of these basic tenets, that they have become measurements or guide posts for our existences. Whether we succeed or fail in our endeavors is not as important as how we go about achieving them.  Or in the Hockey sense, "it's not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game".

Now all of this is of course, a glorious generalization. Not all Canadians would agree with or adhere to the notions I have just expressed. But I think that if we were hard-pressed to describe our National Value Set to say... a race of aliens, they would look pretty similar to what I've described. They are the noble ideals that we aspire to and try to teach our children to embrace.

Now all of this brings me back to Stephen Harper and his values as opposed to those of the average Canadian . Leave us not forget that the Prime Minister asserts that the Conservative and therefore his values are Canadian values. This is where the actions of Stephen Harper and his subordinates comes into play.

We tend not to like liars in this country. It goes against one of the basic tenets of our way of life. Lying is a human failing to be sure, an easy fall back for any person who finds themselves in a tight squeeze with no other way out in sight. But telling the truth no matter what, is one of those noble attributes we all aspire to. It makes us better people and better citizens. It's an enlightened plateau we never stop trying to achieve.

Now the Harper-Cons, if you will recall, were not long ago, found to be in contempt of Parliament. It's what caused the 41st Canadian General Election. But what did this contempt look like? What did it consist of? Well for one thing, it involved money as most conflicts do. The Government of Harper failed to divulge to total cost of certain aspects of it's budget and expected the members of the House of Commons to vote on it. They did not say, all the figures were not there, they merely tabled the budget as it was and expected it to be passed. And when it was found out that there were some significant figures missing, The Government of Harper continued to refuse to divulge these numbers sighting Cabinet Privilege. So was this lying then? Is it inherently dishonest to give only half of a story and expect that others will perceive it to be the whole truth?

And this brings us to the famous "Not Girl", Bev Oda. International aid agency "Kairos" had it's funding denied by Stephen Harper via Cabinet Minister Oda. It appeared that a memo had been initially issued stating that Kairos had qualified for funding, but mysteriously, the hand written word "not" was inserted into the sentence that changed the agency's funding status from "approved" to "not approved". At first, Ms. Oda told Parliament she had no idea who doctored the already signed document. It later was revealed that She not only knew who doctored the document, she authorized them to do so. Bev Oda  lied outright to Parliament, and with the full support of Stephen Harper.

In the end, the Prime Minister asserted that the Contempt of Parliament was a political move by the opposition parties who out voted him, and by the Speaker of the House who was a Liberal. Even if the most cynical political observer were to believe this, it does not take away from the fact that the Government of Harper lied both through omission and by commission. And this is only one example of the Harper-Cons dishonest handling of affairs. It does not even touch on the Afghan detainee issue, the G8/G20 fiasco nor the true burden on the environment of Harper's love child, the Alberta Tar Sands.

But what about cheating? Well one only needs to look at the fact that four top Harper-Cons are under investigation regarding the mis-allocation of advertising funds during  the 2006 election. This is being referred to as the "in and out" scandal. Again, Harper contends that this is a simple administrative misunderstanding. But most involved in this scheme to divert money to the Conservative national ad campaign in 2006 believe it seemed underhanded and verging on fraudulent. One of the most powerful propaganda weapons in Harper's 365 days a year campaign is his television ads. And in 2006, he found a way to be able to spend more money than the other parties on television ads during the campaign, which is expressly against the rules as laid out by Elections Canada. Whether it had a discernible impact upon the election or not, Harper cheated.

And stealing. Tony Clement, one of the most senior Minister's in Harper's inner circle was able to redirect $50,000,000 to his own riding that was supposed to be money allocated for either G8 infrastructure money or Border security enhancements. The vast majority of the money went into projects that had nothing to do with the G8 and Mr. Clement's riding is several hundred miles away from the nearest border. And there is no paper trail which seems to indicate a knowing "contravention" of the rules. This was taxpayers money that was deliberately and underhandedly redirected to Mr. Clement's home riding. In effect, it was stolen.

And while we're on the subject of theft, how about Michael Sona's attempted theft of an Elections Canada ballot box from a special poll at Guelph University. It was only the quick actions of an Elections Canada scrutineer that prevented the theft. Mr. Sona, Communications Director for the local Conservative candidate was never arrested or charged in this attempted theft.

So in summary, given the examples of Harper-Cons lying, cheating and stealing, and let us not forget, Stephen Harper is the New Conservative Party, the actions of his party have frequently been unethical and bordering on, if not out right, illegal. And the above is a mere handful of the "too numerous to list in one place" transgressions. So the actions of the Harper-Cons demonstrates a value set that is far from the noble Canadian values that have evolved over the years. They are not setting the example of what it means to be ethical in all things and  unlike the "it's how you play the game" attitude we attempt to teach our children in an effort to pass on our legacy of good Canadian values and ethical behaviour, the Government of Harper espouses a "the ends justifies the means" philosophy. And their behaviour is anything but ethical and thereby, completely out of sync with the traditional values that Canadians hold dear. 

In Part Three (and hopefully last part) of this run-on blog post , I will examine The Harper-Cons bullying behaviour and why their many transgressions don't stick to them.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Why Stephen Harper's Values are Distinctly un-Canadian

Stephen Harper has repeatedly made the claim that Conservative Values are Canadian Values.  

In itself, this seems like a fairly harmless statement, typically political in nature that should probably be instantly dismissed as such.  If it had been made by any other political party, speaking about themselves at any other point in our history, this would be true. But this was Stephen Harper speaking these words and their meaning has far greater implications, beyond mere political rhetoric.

For one thing, Harper controls his party with an iron fist. He sets the tone, he sets the agenda and he sets the speech. Every single party member conforms to this strategy. If they can't, they don't speak, if they speak and contradict the party line, heaven help them. More than one man or woman has found their careers in ruin for doing so. 

To control his party, Harper has employed a cadre of non elected Zealots, euphemistically referred to as "political entrepreneurs". These are the boys in short pants. He has stocked the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) with these henchmen and has given them unprecedented powers. Dimitri Soudas for example, Harper's former Director of Communications and a top adviser had in the past, been given the task of announcing Government Policy on National TV.  This was not an elected official, he was a mere employee, yet he enjoyed greater access to the Prime Minister and possessed "clout" far beyond any Parliamentarian sitting in the House of Commons. This remains true of ANY of the zealots in the PMO, that they have far greater power and control over our country than any of our elected officials, yet they are nothing more than "hired hands" 

So with a short leash tightly around the neck of his party, whenever we hear Stephen Harper utter the word "Conservative" , we should be hearing "I" or "me" or "my" as in,  "my values are Canadian values" .

And lets not forget, this party that Mr. Harper has a choke hold on, is Conservative in name only. They are, in reality, the Reform/Alliance party that usurped the Conservative name from the mortally wounded  PCs in 2003. There is very little in this New Conservative party that resembles the Progressive Conservatives of days gone by.This collection of Neo-Cons would likely consider John Diefenbaker or Robert Stanfield to have been Socialists.

So Stephen Harper is flaunting his values as being Canadian. So because they are his values, they are his party's and his Zealot's values. But what are Harper's values? Whenever the word comes up, which is often, it's usually connected with the word Family.

When the phrase "Family Values" comes up in the United States, at least in the political sense, it refers to ultra-conservative, right-wing fundamental Christian values. Groups espousing to be supporters of Family Values in the good old U.S. of A.  are also known to be well financed, powerful, intolerant and often racist according to various civil liberties groups. And for some reason, there is a connection between these right-wing groups and "Tea",  though what this connection is, remains unclear to the writer.

So In Canada , when Stephen Harper talks about Family Values, he is definitely on the same wavelength as his American cousins. Both he and his party have received support, both financial and otherwise from these ultraconservative groups south of the border. And we also know Harper to be a staunch Evangelical Christian. So when he makes any reference what-so-ever regarding the subject of values, we should know that Harper is referring to the Evangelical variety and that they have been well financed by folks outside of our borders.

So what are these Evangelical Christian Values? Well, for one thing, we know them to be adamantly pro-life. Which is not surprising in itself, but they aren't content with just Evangelicals being pro-life. Everybody has to be pro life. Which means that women's reproductive rights are non-existent in Harper's Canada.

In fact, women's rights are greatly diminished in Harperland.  Yes, they have a very necessary role in the family. They are the bearers of the children. Very important to be sure, but it is their primary role. Meaning for a good portion of their adult lives, women should be pregnant and left at home to raise the kids. State supported and licensed day care is an abomination you see.

So once a woman, according to the Government of Harper has outlived her reproductive usefulness, then and only then is she free to pursue other interests and ambitions. But she must at all times remain subservient to the man in the family. 

If they can't be converted,
non-believers are shunned
and left to die on their own.
No State support for these
All Non-Evangelicals are to be pitied and saved. Meaning we non-believers must be convinced to adopt the same world view as our enlightened brethren.  But if we will not be saved, we must be shunned, exiled and left to our own pathetic devices, hopefully to die off and rid the world of our horrible socialist sins.

Homosexuals under Evangelical dogma, are the lowest form of life. As such, they should not expect to have any rights in Harper's Canada. They are not even to be pitied and saved like other non-Evangelicals. They are to be shunned, and hopefully, to die slow painful deaths. Which might explain why the Government of Harper would not allow cheap, generic AIDS medications to be produced for shipment to needy developing nations. Most likely, the Prime Minister believes that Aids is a scourge brought on by the evil of homosexuality and as such, gays should be left to be destroyed by their own deadly disease, horribly and painfully.

Unlike the traditional teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, the poor in the Evangelical world are not to be pitied and given help. They are to be blamed for their own plight and if they are not capable of becoming useful Evangelical citizens, they should be locked up like common criminals to teach them the folly of their evil existence. Never mind if they are mentally ill or drug addicted or both.

So, given the Evangelical world perspective, it is not difficult to see why Harperland is a very exclusive club. All are welcome to join the club and be saved, but those who won't, can quite literally, "go to hell"!  So the club excludes out of hand: Muslims, Hindus, Baha'i, Buddhists, Communists, Socialists, Feminists, Gays, Lesbians, Transgendered folk,  Liberals of any stripe, Unionists, impoverished, those with mental illnesses or addictions and basically, anyone who holds a dissenting world view.

Oh, and for good measure, Evangelicals don't believe in Global Warming, at least that it is man made anyway. If there really is Global warming so Stephen believes, it is gods will so nothing mankind does, one way or another, will make it better or worse.  Hence the rather archaic policies Harper has regarding the environment, ie: it's here to be used and exploited, not protected, because whatever happens, good bad or otherwise, is god's will!

So, given that Stephen Harper's world view is firmly rooted in his Evangelical beliefs, I would say that his concept of values, Family related or otherwise, are very far from the Canadian values I've grown up with and hold dear to my heart.

The Canada that I know is all inclusive. Everyone is welcome here regardless of their skin colour, religion, sexual orientation, gender. The more the merrier. Despite the fact that we are a cold, drab country for three-quarters of the year, we love lots of colour, pageantry and  displays of ethnic and artistic diversity. And if any newcomers to the country can play hockey, all the better. But conformity isn't the order of the day. Assimilation is an undertaking best left to the Borg...and the Evangelicals apparently

In the Canada that I grew up in, we care for and make every effort to rehabilitate the mentally ill, the drug addicted and the impoverished. Not only is that the truly Christian thing to do, but it is also the morally right thing as well. We have a very firm belief here in Canada, that all are equal, everyone has the same rights and as such, everyone has a right to be happy, healthy and to have a reasonable standard of living. To that end, the State makes every effort to create circumstances where every citizen can obtain these rights of their own accord and if they can't, the state has an obligation to look after and care for them as though they were members of the family, our "Canadian Family". And that is the core of Canadian values. Our society owes responsibility to everyone, regardless of who they are  as though we were all in some way, extended family. To my mind, this is what Family Values truly represents .

In my Canada, we are typically known to be stoic and eternally polite. But we are also known to be hospitable, forgiving, tolerant, accepting and possessing of the ability to turn the other cheek and recognizing that discretion, is often the better part of valor. And curiously, this last character trait  can easily be seen as a Progressive Conservative quality that has nothing what-so-ever to do with the new incarnation of the party known as Conservative.

So no Mr. Harper, your values, while representing a very small minority of Canadians (apparently, there are about 3,000,000 Evangelicals in Canada, mostly in and around Alberta), are very far from being representative of the entire country. But it is my distinctly Canadian values that says you are entitled to your beliefs. But it is also my Canadian mind-set that says you don't have the right to force them on the rest of the country.