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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Why I harp on Harper and get so political

I get asked two questions fairly frequently.
One of those questions is: Will, why are you so damned political?
The other is: Will, why do you harp on Harper so much?
To answer the first. Politics is the science of how people govern themselves. Because people seem unable to govern themselves individually, we need a system where by we govern each other. That is, the society is trusted with the chore of making sure that all the members of the society behave in a manner that makes the society safe for everyone.
Personally, I would love it if we could all govern ourselves. I could live in such a society, a society where it would be imcumbent on each of us to do the right thing, to be considerate of our fellows and to put the good of the all over personal gratification. Such a system could rightfully be called Anarchy. In such a system there would be no need for a central government, courts, or police. The trouble is, there are a lot of people in our current society who apparently have no regard for their fellows, and even those who do, sometimes have no idea how their actions affect others. As a result, if Anarchy were to occur, it would most likely be “every person for himself, and to hell with everyone else.” We’d all be looking out for number one, because if we didn’t, the other guy looking out for number one would run riot on us. Until we develop as humans to a place where we can govern our own actions, and treat everyone else in the society with the respect and consideration we desire for ourselves, then Anarchy won’t work.
We are left, therefore, with the chore of developing a system that enforces the notion that we are all equal, and insures that each and every member of our society is afforded the respect and consideration they deserve. We need a means of developing consensus as to what is acceptable and what isn’t. In Canada, that system is our federal and provincial parliaments. Their job is to agree what rules are appropriate and make them into laws, or to legislate. It then becomes the job of the Executive branch of the parliament to implement those rules. We also require a system of enforcing what the majority agree is acceptable. That is our courts, or the judiciary. In order to make all that work the parliament, the courts, and the legislature must appoint or hire individuals or groups to carry out the business of making sure every citizen is provided with full protection and opportunity according to the will of the society.
So far, in all of human history, no society has been able to develop a fool proof political system. We’ve tried a lot of different methods; monarchies, dictatoriships, serfdoms, communism, socialism. In recent history the ideal of democracy has become most acceptable and sought after. The idea of democracy is that each and every person in a society should have a voice in the society, they should get to choose who governs, how they govern, and for how long. In a democracy the majority rules, but the minority also has a say. Theoretically anyway, this prevents the majority from running riot on the minority.
In a democracy there are three pillars on which governance is built; The legislative, which divines a consensus and introduces legislation based on the will of the many; the Exectutive, which implements the will of the many; and the judicial which interprets the will of the many. In order for democracy to work properly, it is imperative that these three pillars remain separate, to keep one pillar from overpowering the others, and to keep things balanced. Its a system of checks and balances.
At best it is imperfect, but as long as each and every voice, or voter, has a say, or a vote, then there is a chance that each and every person has an opportunity to live a good and productive life within the society, and that the society will be good and productive.
So, the short answer to the first question is: I’m so political because politics is the mechanism by which I am able to live a good a productive life in our modern world.
Now to the second question; Why do I harp on Harper?
The short answer is: because I believe he is anti-democratic, and lets his personal interests and ideals supercede the best interests of the society as a whole! Yes folks, I believe he has the portent, and the desire, to interfere with me and others living a good and productive life.
The long answer goes something like this: Stephen Harper is a member of a minority. For the most part this minority is economically upper class, adhere to a rigid view of the society wherein the wealthy have more rights and opportunities, the poor are somehow morally deficient, and everyone is expected to look and act a certain way. He believes that people should abide by rules without questioning them, that leaders should govern, not serve, and that we should all abide by a strict moral code, or fundamentalism, based on latter day interpretations of psuedo-Christian ethics.
Furthermore, while Harper gives lip service to the ideals of democracy, he does not practice democracy. If fact, he seems to have little understanding of the principles of democracy and individual freedom. This is best exemplified by his absolute control over his cabinet, right down to answering their mail, and by his control over who chairs parliamentary committees. In recent weeks Harper has made attempts to merge the executive and the judicial, by seeking greater sway over who does and does not join the judiciary. Such a move would strengthen the executive, while somewhat disabling both the judiciary, by aligning them closer to the executive, and the legislative, by controlling the judiciary’s interpretation towards closer alignment to the will of the executive.
If I may use a metaphor here: Canadian democracy is like a house built on three stilts. As it was intended, the stilts are set apart, which allows the house to be built evenly atop them. Harpers plan to bring the judiciary and the executive more in line with one another, has the portent to make the house lopsided, with more weight going to the executive and less to the legislative. The end result will be a house that teeters atop three uneven pillars, rather that resting atop three evenly distributed foundations. It is at best a dangerous notion, and at worst a recipe for calamity. We would not build our own homes on an uneven foundation, why should we aquiese to building a government on uneven footing?
The second part of my reason for harping on Harper is his apparent hypocracy. When he was in opposition Harper consistently attacked his political foes for being power mad, opportunists, flip floppers, with a penchant for political patronage, double speak and constant electioneering. He often accused the Liberals of using the Canadian taxpayers time and money for their own political purposes, and was constantly damning them for pre-election spending sprees designed, not to implement legislation Canadians wanted, but to buy their votes. Now that he’s in power, and with another election looming, he is doing exactly the same thing he so adamantly accused his predecessors of engaging in.
Heck, one of his first acts as PM was to appoint one of his campaign chairs to the senate, an act of patronage equal to any the former government was guilty of. At the same time he managed to persuade a member of his opposition to cross the floor and join his cabinet! Yet, a few months earlier when one of his own party, Belinda Stronach, made a similar move, he decried it as a woeful sin against the parliamentary system.
If that weren’t enough, he next introduced an environment bill, the Clean Air Act, that promised to do absolutely nothing to fix the problem for 50 years. Weeks later, when he realized the environment was going to be a hot button election issue, he did a complete flip flop, and introduced an environment bill that went the opposite direction completely. His new bill, with some minor name changes and a little tweaking, was basically the same bill his predecessors had introduced, and which his party, while in opposition, had whole heartedly condemned.
In the midst of all this politickin’ Harper went ahead and committed major troops to Afghanistan, despite the Canadian militaries unpreparedness for such a mission. Then, when a good fifty percent of the population demanded an explanation and a debate on the subject, Harper retreated to a positon of patriotism, arguing that a debate on the role of Canada’s armed forces in Afghanistan would be a detriment to our armed forces personnel. It was Mark Twain, I believe, who said the last refuge of a coward is patriotism. All the while, sending our armed forces into a situation as dangerous as Afghanistan, without allowing the Canadian people an opportunity to ask questions and get answers, was the ultimate disrespect to those people. To accuse those of us who opposed the mission of not caring for our armed forces personnel was, to me and many others, the ultimate in hypocracy. Our concerns were based wholly in caring about our armed forces, not the opposite.
There are other issues and actions; Harper’s daycare plan to give every family 100 a month per child for daycare, while wiping out daycare subsidies; giving Quebec $350 million to meet its Kyoto targets while telling the rest of Canada that meeting the Kyoto targets would bankrupt the economy; dragging out the Maher Arar affair by refusing to apologize up front and blaming it all on the former government; trying to protect the RCMP when it was clear they’d been at fault in the Arar matter; selling the farm on the softwood lumber deal; runnning negative election ads when there is no official election campaign underway; sending out election-style pamphlets that referred to the current government as “Canada’s New Government” at taxpayers expense; and on and on.
The short answer why I harp on Harper so much is that he has no concept of what a democracy is all about, he can’t be trusted, and like his predecessors, his only motivation is not to serve the majority but to get re-elected. In short, he’s a total hypocrite!
I will agree with Harper on one thing. Canada does need leadership. However, I do not believe he is that leader, unless of course we want another flip flopping, self serving, patronizing, anti-democratic, fear mongering, do anything to get re-elected Prime Minister!
In short, to answer both questions, I get so political because politics is the system by which we humans govern ourselves, and I harp on Harper because he’s a hyporite and the most worst prime minister in Canadian history.


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