The Final Hours of Harperland?

Back in 2012 after Stephen Harper’s Conservatives had won their majority government, Shock & AHH!! composed a list of grievances which the average Canadian might have reason to express based on the political climate:

The growing dissent in the humble nation of Canada has less to do with bipartisan ideologies of Conservative versus Liberal administrations, and more to do with what appears on the surface to be an incessant barrage on common sense, respect for the parliamentary process, and the fundamental difference between right and wrong. May 10th, 2012.

At the time, many in opposition to the Conservative Government were speaking to the unpleasant nature of the 2011 election campaign even citing examples of voter suppression. The most serious of these included the so-called “Robocalls” wherein voters received automated phone call messages telling them their assigned polling stations had been changed to a different address. On Election Day, some voters showed up to these alternate addresses only to learn there had been no change on the part of Elections Canada.

While disturbing, such alleged diversions were investigated but yielded no serious indictments outside of one junior conservative staff member (this despite evidence of voter suppression using Robocalls in nearly 250 ridings across the country). On the heels of this RCMP investigation, the new majority government began pushing through an Omnibus Package of legislation which was sold as a bundle of “tough on crime” measures. As this package was examined more closely, it became apparent that along with stricter conditions for paroling murderers, a new found focus on mandatory minimum sentences for marijuana seemed to be at odds with the subtly more libertarian trend in North America towards pot. Whereas referendums would soon be held in a couple American states, here in the true north, policy appeared to be on a regressive slide.

But as obtuse as such measures may have been, they were nothing compared to the golem of the Omnibus Package, Bill C-30, aka the “Protecting Children from Online Predators Act,” which gave the Safety Minister the power to access information about citizens online behavior without a warrant, and to be viewed by any party the Minister so deputized. In response to dissent in the House of Commons, Safety Minister Vic Toews famously remarked that opponents could “either stand with us or with the child pornographers.”

These issues all arose in the brief period between the 2011 campaign and the first months of the majority government. In the four years since, draconian policy and one-dimensional thinking has given way to obfuscation of the law, in the form of the Senate Scandal, and abhorrent propaganda fueled by fear. In 2015, we have a Prime Minister who has presented himself and his Government as a force for accountability and as a bulwark against the dangerous elements who seek to do us harm by systematically:

Cutting Defense Spending (not counting the billions wasted on a single procurement project which is yet to put a single F-35 fighter in the air).

Preventing Scientists from communicating to the public, particularly, as the Toronto Star’s Chris Turner called it “a sustained campaign to diminish the government’s role in evidence-based policy-making and environmental stewardship.”

Harper’s economic action plan shows the Lowest Employment Growth in a century, even accounting for the 2008 global economic crisis.

Bills C-30 and C-51 remove many of the due process safeguards surrounding the collection of personal information without a warrant, all under the guise of protection from foreign and domestic threats. Meanwhile, a Canadian journalist, Mohamed Fahmy was abandoned in Egyptian prison and tried as a spy before finally being able to return to Canada only months ago.

The politics of fear have employed references to ISIS or ISIL as a growing threat to Canadian security with rhetoric on terrorism and imminent dangers not heard since the Bush administration in the run up to Iraq.

As part of this election campaign Stephen Harper continues to stoke these same fears in a senseless debate over the wearing of the niqab while dragging his feet on immigration at the height of the Syrian refugee crises.

A record on issues affecting First Nations that is plagued with a failure to find common ground even on solutions proposed by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and despite calls for an independent inquiry into murdered and missing aboriginal women remains content to address social economic issues through "tough on crime" legislation.

The Senate Scandal continues to drag on as the Prime Minister maintains he was woefully ignorant of his chief of staff paying off the illegal expenses claimed by Senator Mike Duffy.

And perhaps most abhorrent of all, on four occasions did Stephen Harper request to prorogue Parliament and was successful in shutting down the Canadian government just as he found himself facing a likely vote of no confidence. Assesing this penchant for putting the democratic process on hold as a political tactic, University of Toronto political scientist, Nelson Wiseman, wrote “no Prime Minister has so abused the power to prorogue.”

Two days remain in the Federal Election as Canadians head to the polls October 19th. During this campaign, one of the longest in the country’s history, we have seen the attack ads and read the opinion pieces. We remember in 2011, the electorate was not thrilled with the Harper Minority Government however the split between progressive alternatives allowed the Conservatives to clinch their majority. That is why there has been a greater push this time around to vote strategically and a number of websites will calculate an option for you based on your riding.

This time around, it’s not a matter of personality preference or single issue voters. This country has been under a systematic attack of its core principles of diversity, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and the very franchise of the vote. For two more days Stephen Harper is going to warn you of the high taxes and reckless spending that the New Democrats will unleash. He’s going to pitch one more time that the leadership of the Liberals is untested and will put our security at risk. Take these dire warnings of what may be and stack them against what has been under his leadership and make the decision that is still within your power to make.

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