Bringing down the Harper government…

December 6, 2008

This poignant piece written by Political Science professor James Laxer is in Straight Goods, Saturday, Dec. 6th.  Laxer’s sage advice is intended for Liberals and the NDP. But all Canadians, especially those who are brainwashed by the Harper government into believing that the coalition is bad for our country — and that Harper’s is the only ‘legitimate’ government — should also pay attention.


Bringing down the Harper government

Liberals, NDP, embarked on venture that is not for the faint of heart.

Dateline: Monday, December 01, 2008

by James Laxer

There is a tide in the affairs of men
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries/
such a full sea are we now afloat
And we must take the current when it serves
Or lose our ventures.

The Liberals ought to heed these words as they move forward to topple the Harper government. If, instead, they hesitate and give in to their fears, they will hand Stephen Harper an enormous political victory.

If the Conservatives manage to salvage their hold on government, the retribution they will inflict on each of the opposition parties will be a terrible one.

Having committed a grave political blunder last week with its Economic Statement, the Harper government is desperately regrouping to try to regain control of the situation. Apparently they are in full retreat, but no one should be fooled.

The concessions being offered — backing away from slashing campaign funding for political parties, dropping the assault on the right of civil servants to strike, and moving forward the date of the budget — are all designed to convince faint hearted Liberals that they should abandon the idea of defeating the government and installing a new ministry in which they will hold the key positions.

If the Conservatives manage to salvage their hold on government, the retribution they will inflict on each of the opposition parties will be a terrible one. Stephen Harper does not deal well with what he interprets as public humiliation. Here’s a guy who can’t even attend the annual Press Gallery dinner in Ottawa because he’d have to lampoon himself and people might laugh at him. Lacking a sense of humour, which means a sense of proportion, he is not well-suited to political life in a democracy where give and take is of the essence.

The only thing this man understands is conquest, which is why even the members of his own party don’t really like him. If the Liberals decide to let Harper wriggle out of this one, they will have exchanged the substance of victory for a Pyrrhic victory.

Making a coalition work will not be easy for either the Liberals or the NDP. What will unite them though is that they are on the same side of the fence when it comes to the need for a serious stimulus package to cope with the economic crisis.

Oddly enough, keeping the Bloc onboard may prove to be not so challenging. The Bloc will claim credit for the portion of the stimulus package that goes to Quebec, and they will be rid of Harper’s noxious agenda on culture, crime and gun control, an agenda that Quebeckers hate with a passion.

The Liberals, NDP and the Bloc can either hang together or they will hang separately.

They cannot play this game again. If they were to unite to topple the Conservatives further into the mandate of this parliament, Harper would have a much better chance of talking the Governor General into granting him a dissolution and a new election.

This is it guys.

If the opposition fails to defeat the government and install a new one, Harper will exercise complete control for the next couple of years. The opposition parties will be stuck with Flaherty’s budget at the end of January, which is virtually certain to fall short of what the country needs in terms of economic stimulus. Do they really want to place the fate of Canadians in the hands of a man whose first plan for coping with the economic crisis included selling the CN Tower?

This may not have been the way the Liberals wanted to return to government. But it’s a good way. If they perform effectively in office for the next two years, the Liberals, the NDP and the Bloc will be well positioned for the next election. And, it will be the Conservatives who will fall prey to infighting. If the Conservative government falls, the campaigns to replace Harper as leader will be well underway by Christmas.

The united power of the opposition parties has been demonstrated to great effect over the past few days. They occupy the high ground and the only thing that stands in their way is their own self-doubt.

PS I know the speech at the top of this post was delivered by Brutus, who came to a bad end. Shakespeare had a way of having even his doomed characters give voice to enduring truths.

James Laxer is a Professor of Political Science at York University in Toronto. His published books include Decline of the Superpowers; False God: How the Globalization Myth Has Impoverished Canada; The Undeclared War: Class Conflict in the Age of Cyber Capitalism; the national bestseller, Stalking the Elephant: My Discovery of America; and the award-winning Red Diaper Baby: A Boyhood in the Age of McCarthyism.

Harper is a neo-conservative ideologue, obsessed with power and his own sense of self importance. He is contemptuous of Canada and a stalwart member of neo-con right-wing groups, closely linked to their U.S. counterparts. This group’s insidious agenda is not what most Canadians envision for our country. Conservative Canadians who believe that Harper’s party represents them and the country have been duped by his relentless divisive propaganda aided and abetted by the cowed media and pundits. If these Canadians remove their blinders, they will see the ‘real’ Stephen Harper and get a glimpse of what he has in store for us in the coming year. They will see that Harper’s plans for the direction of our country are far different from that of mainstream Canadians, regardless of where we stand on the political spectrum.. It is imperative that Canadians of all political persuasion unite for the good of our country.

Pertinent Links:

Council of Canadians

http://canadianlabour.ca/en/coalition-government-rallies-across-canada

http://www.harperindex.ca/ViewArticle.cfm?Ref=00174

http://dawn.thot.net/harperstiestousa/american_right_report.pdf

The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism – Naomi Klein’s website and book

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Another crisis that Harper is promoting

December 6, 2008

Sierra Club Canada News Release

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Four Fossil Awards for Canada at UN Climate Conference

OTTAWA—Today, during international climate talks in Poznan, Poland, Canada was given an unprecedented four “Fossil of the Day” awards by the international community.

The awards are given to governments taking positions that stall or block the progress of climate negotiations. At the climate talks, the Canadian delegation has failed to take a constructive approach to negotiations – at the same time as the Harper government prorogued Parliament, shutting down debate until next year.

“Canada must take a more constructive approach to international climate talks. With ever-increasing levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, time is running out,” said Mike Buckthought, National Climate Change Campaigner. “We need deep reductions in emissions to avoid the most dangerous consequences of climate change.”

Canada tied for first place with Japan and Russia in failing to support deep reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases. Reductions of at least 25-40% are needed by 2020, in order to avoid dangerous global warming that threatens most of the world’s plant and animal species.

For the second place Fossil of the Day Award, the international community awarded Canada two awards of shame – an unusual tie for second place. Canada’s negotiators argued that the country should get a break on its emissions targets, because the tar sands release a lot of carbon.

“The tar sands should not be exempted from targets for reductions. Quite the contrary, Canada and the international community need to apply disincentives for the burning of dirty oil from the tar sands,” said Stephen Hazell, Executive Director.

Canada also insisted that rich countries should get special treatment for “welfare loss” – the “hardship” of using smaller cars, or public transit.

Canada picked up a third place award, for a total of four prizes of shame in arguing that special “national circumstances” (i.e., Canada is cold and big) are the reason for Canada being 29% above its Kyoto target. This argument ignores the fact that other cold countries such as Sweden have been able to meet their Kyoto targets.

“Canada is missing the chance to create thousands of new green jobs in the renewable energy and energy efficiency sectors,” said Hazell. “Other countries with northern climates have invested in a sustainable economy, and the investments have paid off – with the creation of thousands of new jobs.”

– 30 –

For more information contact:

Stephen Hazell, Executive Director 613-241-4611 ext. 238 or 613-724-1908 (cell)

Mike Buckthought, National Climate Change Campaigner, 613-241-4611 ext. 235