Sometimes you need a list to keep yourself organized, or at least to remember all the things you don’t want to forget. With this in mind, I’ve decided to create a list of all the reasons why I would never vote for Stephen Harper’s Conservatives. Here they are, in no particular order:
- Prorogation: The cynicism of Stephen Harper was never more apparent when he used prorogation to avoid a non-confidence vote in 2008. [http://www.thestar.com/comment/article/547336]
- The Coalition Redux: Harper must be staggeringly contemptuous of Canadians to decry a possible Liberal-led coalition when he championed a Conservative-led coalition in 2004. [http://news.sympatico.ctv.ca/canada/text_of_harpers_2004_letter_with_ndp_bloc/d270517f]
- Inequality: Harper’s tax cuts (following the Chretien and Martin Liberals) have, as usual, benefited the richest in our country, and have led to a growing gap between the richest 20% and everyone else. [http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/economy/economy-lab/the-economists/were-ignoring-inequality-at-our-peril/article1820187/] [http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/the-rich-really-are-getting-richer/article1819803/]
- Tax Cuts and Productivity: In the last decade, corporate tax cuts have been promoted as a means to improve productivity. The result? Canada’s productivity is actually worse, and the lost revenue has gone elsewhere, presumably to amplify corporate profits and shareholder dividends, boost mergers and acquisitions, and increase CEO bonuses. (See # 3 above.) [http://www.td.com/economics/special/ab0610_productivity.pdf] [http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/economy/economy-lab/the-economists/five-reasons-to-say-no-to-more-corporate-tax-cuts/article1886449]
- Unemployment and the Middling Economic Recovery: While much has been made about Canada’s economic superiority relative to the United States, the truth is that our economic performance is ambiguous at best. The biggest problem is unemployment. The rate sits at 7.8% (as of March 2010), and hasn’t moved much in the last two years. In the meantime, most new jobs are temporary and those on EI insurance are staying longer than usual. (See # 3 above.) The stimulus program that we see on thousands of signs still has not addressed our municipal infrastructure deficit, and GDP growth is decidedly mediocre compared to most other developed countries. To be sure, we continue to benefit from Asian demand for our resources, and from the relatively strict regulations of the banking industry instituted by the Liberals, but neither can be claimed as victories by the Conservatives. [http://www.hrmguide.net/canada/jobmarket/canadian-unemployment.htm] [http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/opinion/not-exactly-an-economic-gold-medal/article1962041/]
- The F-35 Fiasco: Who in their right mind would support a multi-billion dollar contract that is not subject to a competitive bid process? And which favours an extremely expensive single-engine aircraft for a country that has always needed a two-engine aircraft for patrolling the Arctic? [http://www.flightglobal.com/articles/2011/03/10/354228/canada-f-35-cost-estimate-soars-66-report.htm]
- Senate Appointments: For a man who (rightly) derided the Liberal’s abuse of Senate appointments, and who has said repeatedly he would not appoint senators, Harper’s never-ending Senate appointments are “obscene”. [http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/article729200.ece]
- Speaking of the Senate, what about Harper’s ill-conceived scheme to allow Senate elections? On the face of it, elections sound very democratic. However, there is no talk about redistributing the seat allocation, which is heavily skewed against western Canada (and most particularly British Columbia). Therefore, merely promoting elections would be a disaster for the West. [http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2006/12/13/harper-senators.html]
- Bill C-393: One of the most egregious failures in the last Parliament involved a bill that would send generic Canadian drugs to Africa to combat diseases like AIDS and TB. The bill passed in the House of Commons (with the support of 26 Tories), but was blocked by a Conservative majority in the Canadian Senate (see #6 above). The ridiculuousness of appointed senators subverting a democratically-supported bill in the House was matched by the sad confirmation that poor people mattered less to the Tories than Canada’s major pharmaceutical companies. [http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/second-reading/gerald-caplan/how-can-conservative-senators-look-at-themselves-in-the-mirror/article1967459]
- Research and Development Fiasco: The Conservative’s Research and Development Tax Credit program has been a disaster, with billions being wasted on questionable recipients and consultant’s fees. And even the “government’s own studies have found the program generates almost no economic benefits”. [http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/flawed-rd-scheme-costs-taxpayers-billions/article1939418]
- Corruption and Arrogance: This last one requires a list all of its own. In the last six months, the Tories have been wracked with never-ending revelations of corrupt officials and arrogant politicians. They make the Liberals appear almost benign. Almost.
a. The “in and out” financing scheme skirted the rules about national spending; the Tories used local money for national campaigning, and now four Conservatives (including two senators) have been charged under Election Canada rules. Even two former Tory MP’s have spoken out about the chicanery. [http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/Tory+scheme+violated+Elections+Appeal+Court/4368357/story.htm] [http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/breakingnews/mobile/former-tory-mps-speak-out-against-conservative-in-and-out-scheme-117368283.htm]
b. Bev Oda thought that politically-inspired alteration of documents, and avoiding responsibility for the alteration, were just fine. [http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/speaker-rebukes-bev-oda-over-document-in-kairos-case/article1903110]
c. When the Tory government refused to disclose the full cost of its crime bill legislation, even though it was directed to by a Parliamentary Committee, the Speaker of the House was compelled to find the government in contempt of Parliament. As Speaker Milliken said, “This is a serious matter that goes to the heart of the House’s undoubted role in holding the government to account.” [http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/speakers-contempt-rulings-add-ammunition-to-election-minded-opposition/article1935375]
d. Jason Kenney’s office used the official government letterhead for partisan fundraising purposes. [http://www.canada.com/news/Jason+Kenney+apologizes+staffer+quits+over+fundraising+letter/4380193/story.htm]
e. The Government of Canada is now the “Harper Government”. [http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/948436–tories-rebrand-government-of-canada-as-harper-government]
f. The newly appointed Vice-President of the CRTC has no telecommunications experience, but is tied closely to the upper echelons of the Conservative Party of Canada. [http://www.cbc.ca/news/arts/story/2011/03/23/pol-crtc-pentefountas.htm]
g. As diplomat Richard Colvin discovered, honesty regarding Canada’s role in Afghanistan will only gain you enemies in the Conservative government. [http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/afghanmission/article/728906–richard-colvin-portrait-of-a-whistleblower]
I’m sure there are other things to remember. Do you have any suggestions?
- Here’s one suggested by John G.: The Chinook helicopter sole-source purchase price has gone up 70% since the initial announcement in 2006. [http://www.asdnews.com/news/31415/Canada_s_auditor_general_blasts_military_helicopter_purchase.htm]
- Here’s a second one suggested by Dave G.: In November 2010, Conservative senators called a snap vote while Liberal senators were absent, and defeated a climate change bill passed by the democratically elected (and therefore legitimate) House of Commons. [http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/ottawa-notebook/tory-senators-kill-climate-bill-passed-by-house/article1802519
- Here’s another one from John G.: Apparently the Tories have so many resources that they can vet everyone attending their (closed) rallies. A young woman was ejected from a Harper rally when she was discovered to have a picture of her and Michael Ignatieff on her Facebook page. [http://www.edmontonsun.com/news/decision2011/2011/04/04/17873761.html]
- My friend Dan S. had a number of things I forgot. Dan’s summary is so thorough that here it is in its entirety…
Add to the list of scandals the mess with Bruce Carson. Apparently Harper didn’t know he had 5 criminal convictions. He thought he only had a couple. So it is okay to let a convicted criminal into the PM’s office, but only if he’s only got a couple of convictions.
But let’s go back to the first days of “the Harper Government.” This was a party coming in on a platform of openness and accountability and what was one of the first things they did? They appointed an un-elected person (Fortier) to cabinet. Where’s the accountability in that? Harper cut back on the media’s access to him. Where’s the openness in that? He bribed David Emerson to jump from the Liberals just weeks after the election with the offer of a cabinet position. Where’s the accountability in that? More recently, he eliminated the long form census and in the process eliminated data that can and should be used as the basis for policy decisions. Where’s the accountability in that? Let’s not forget his maximum five question rule for the media and his dodging their questions about why an open government would limit the number of questions the media can ask. Open? Accountable? I don’t think so.
Let’s move on to the fact that they are running a scare campaign trying to tell Canadians that Liberal are a tax and spend party that will drive us deeper into debt. Do Canadians honestly forget that the Liberals left with a balanced budget and Harper turned that into a massive deficit and ballooned our debt? And what do we have to show for it? Nothing of substance.
I could go on all day. These guys provide more ammunition than FOX News give Jon Stewart.
Edited on: Wednesday, April 06, 2011 9:06 PM