Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Harper Government and the National Interest

As anyone who has read anything that I have posted here, there and everywhere, you know that I am greatly disturbed by the Harper government. Even the concept that the Government of Canada should be misnamed the Harper government is an indication of the egoism that this government has assumed. Since taking office, Prime Minister Stephen Harper (King Stephen) has proclaimed that he was given a mandate. He has extrapolated the plurality of the vote that he received to be an indication that the entire population of Canada has given him free reign to do anything that he pleases.

Other than the apologists for the party, there is not a great deal of support for Bill C-10 (Omnibus Crime Bill or The Safe Streets and Communities Act). In spite of opinion and reports from numerous jurisdictions that indicate this will be a complete disaster, the government has seen fit to force the bill through the House of Commons with no amendments even considered (not even by their own party). In the Canadian Bar Association's (CBA) "Submission on Bill C-10 Safe Streets and Communities Act" they say,
The CBA Section is of the view that bundling several critical and entirely distinct criminal justice initiatives into one omnibus Bill is inappropriate, and not in the spirit of Canada’s democratic process.
As was pointed out in "10 Reasons to Oppose Bill C-10" issued by the CBA on November 17, 2011,
Bill C-10 is titled The Safe Streets and Communities Act — an ironic name, considering that Canada already has some of the safest streets and communities in the world and a declining crime rate. This bill will do nothing to improve that state of affairs but, through its overreach and overreaction to imaginary problems, Bill C-10 could easily make it worse. It could eventually create the very problems it’s supposed to solve.
The opinion goes on to list and justify 10 valid reasons why the legislation is just short of idiocy. A number of provinces have also voiced their protest concerning incarcerating people that will ultimately be made victims of this bill. Not only have they voiced their protest, they have said outright that they will not build additional prisons for what will ultimately be a major increase in imprisoned individuals. Texas and California are two states that have attempted just part of what King Stephen is attempting. They met with such abject failure that they backed up and rethought what they were doing. Apparently, Canada (or at least Canada as represented by our current government) is too stupid to learn from others' mistakes.

Canada has insisted on following the rest of the world into the fiasco of cutting spending at a time when many economists insist that the opposite should be the course to take in order to create some form of economic recovery. With so many governments making this same mistake over and over and not learning anything over the course of three years, perhaps we can say that being sheep or lemmings is the correct course to take. I am not going to apologize for the government spending us into a deficit if it were properly directed at the economy. Unfortunately, they, like the US have spent far too little on getting the economy moving. I will grant that Canada is not in the dire straights that the US finds itself but the claims that King Stephen is making about our economy are inflated just a bit. Our quality of life is declining and our middle class is disappearing and that cannot be indicative of a healthy economy nor healthy federal fiscal policy. Slashing social oriented budgets and cutting off funding for groups who monitor our quality of health through measuring water and air quality are not solutions to anything. What this government is doing is setting up for a massive restructuring that will be necessary when they are inevitably turfed for creating a shambles of our society. Since they have been in power, they squandered an inherited surplus for which they have nothing to show.  Being forced further into deficit by the economy is not their fault but rather than insisting on cutting, cutting, cutting they should have spent more and solidified not only the economy but also our crumbling infrastructure. As it is, they are going to leave the next government with major problems attempting to clean up the resultant mess of this 'mandate'-driven oligarchy headed by King Stephen.

It is obvious that the Harper government is being driven the same way that too many corporations are being driven. They are looking for quick, short-sighted solutions to real as well as perceived problems. That is bad policy for corporations but destructive policy for government. The government is charged with looking after the long-term health of the country. If they are operating with the concept that they are akin to a business and must increase their profit or productivity every quarter rather than looking to the long-term health of their jurisdiction, they are jeopardizing the country's future.. The tar sands and how to get that oil to market is the current issue that tracks along those lines.  The Harper government seems intent on adhering to the notion that Canadians are nothing more than hewers of wood and drawers of water (which, in this case happens to be oil).  If this government does not understand that the jobs, profits and benefits to society are drawn from the fabrication of raw resources, I believe that it is time for them to go back to school.  King Stephen tells us that building a pipeline to our border so that we can transport the raw material for someone else to fabricate is the be all and end all.  It would seem to me that building a refinery would add at least as many construction jobs as building a pipeline.  There would also likely be considerably more after-construction jobs with that scenario.  It would also allow for the building of an internal pipeline for the pipeline enthusiasts.  That pipeline could transport finished product to Eastern Canada which now relies on imported oil.  Other than blinkered thinking, there is no reason why tar sands oil should not replace those imports.  Is building a processing facility close to the source such an onerous burden that we must rely on others to process it?

The Dogwood Initiative (a British Columbia non-profit dedicated to bringing decision-making back to residents) has issued a couple of blogs dealing with this issue.  They have addressed 5 Reasons Shipping Oil To Asia Is Not In The National Interest.  They are very cogent and to the point reasons why we should not behave in the manner of Bill C-10.  In fact, one of the reasons is "What's the Hurry".  After all, one of Canada’s top investors, the 85-year-old Stephen Jarislowsky, has said: “Long term, I think oil in the ground is a good asset.”  A follow-up to that blog addresses How Increasing Oil Exports Would Hurt Manufacturing Sector.  One of the arguments is that increased exports of oil would make the dollar worth more.  That would obviously hurt any company involved with export.  Should an oil spill occur either on land or in the straits which the tankers would use could devastate valuable ecosystems.

All in all, from the policies that have come out of the Harper government, it would seem that they are intent on abrogating their responsibility to the Canadian people.  They are very interested in helping the business lobby get their short-term goals met.  They are also intent on pushing their agenda from the Canadian Alliance days in spite of the fact that much of their policy position then was outdated and is even more outdated now.  The National Interest is definitely secondary in the positions that they have adopted and I fear that they are attempting to drive Canada away from the liberal society which has existed up to this point.  If a Republican candidate is elected President of the United States in this year's election, I fear for North America for the next 3 years with two such right of centre governments in power.

No comments:

Post a Comment