An Open Letter to Stephen Harper:
Dear Mr. Harper:
On many occasions during this election campaign you have repeatedly said, “Canadians do not want this election.” You are right-many of us do not want this election. But we need this election! We need it because of what you have been doing over the past five years.
You have mismanaged the economy. During your term of office you have taken us from a 13 billion dollar surplus to a 50 billion dollar deficit. Some is the result of the recession, but most is the result of unsound economic policies. While cuts to the GST have saved 2 cents on every cup of coffee at Tim Horton’s, (hardly worthwhile), it has reduced government revenue by billions of dollars and severely aggravated the deficit. With virtually a single voice, professional economists from coast to coast advised you of the foolishness of this policy. Henry Mintzberg, amongst many others, has challenged your proposal to stimulate the economy with corporate tax cuts, suggesting there are far better ways to stimulate the economy.
Your plan to spend 30 billion on jets without a competitive bidding process is financial madness. The most recent revelations in the United States indicate the cost may rise to 40 billion dollars. And spending another 10 billion on super prisons when crime rates are falling in most categories defies common sense. Jets and prisons alone will almost double our annual deficit. What cuts to the social safety net are you planning to make in order to pay for the jets?
When police chiefs across Canada want the gun registry retained, you intend to terminate it, in spite of the thousands of times a week the police use it. Why doesn’t the law and order agenda include supporting the police with the gun registry?
You have failed to develop an environmental policy. In fact you have blocked all efforts to control fossil fuel emissions. Consequently, during your term as prime minister, Canada has been the butt of international ridicule and criticism. Why must the tar sands set your agenda?
You have failed to support the United Nations, and under your watch Canada has been pushed aside by the world community when we were denied a seat on the Security Council. Are you not embarrassed by this rejection?
You promised openness in appointments, but you scrapped the Appointments Commission that would make them bipartisan.
While running on a promise of transparency and accountability, you have done the opposite. You and your ministers have lied to Parliament and to Parliamentary Committees on several occasions. With the publication of a “secret handbook” your office has instructed conservative back benchers how to be obstructive and how to render Parliamentary Committees ineffective.
Ministers who have lied to Canada are still in your cabinet!
Your refusal to grant the requests of the Parliamentary Budget Officer shows your contempt for him and for Parliament. Slashing his budget was petty and was designed to reduce his effectiveness. Why are you so distrustful of Parliament and Parliamentary procedures? Your actions since you became Prime Minister have shown contempt for Parliament-Canada’s highest court.
Consequently, your government is the first in Commonwealth history to be found “in contempt of Parliament”. Surely you are not proud of this?
Many times during the last election campaign you promised your government would be transparent. But your office has made Access to Information far more difficult. Transparency has been replaced with interference and obfuscation. Why do you fear accountability and transparency?
Signing a new security perimeter deal with the United States without consulting Canadians or Parliament is unacceptable. Sweeping measures such as this must be vetted and approved by Parliament before the fact.
The” in-and-out” money manipulation has brought charges against members of your party. You have failed to obey the Canada Election Act. Even in the midst of this election you are tampering with the electoral process.
Character assassination is your response to those who differ with you. Dalton McGuinty was the target of your invective when he was defending Ontario against your assault. You fired Linda Keen for doing her job in safeguarding Canadians. But she was right! You still had to shut down the nuclear reactor after all. Many others have been the target of your cheap shots. Your attack on Louise Arbour was utterly disgusting! Why are you so mean-spirited?
A number of affairs demonstrated your dishonesty and deceitfulness. For example, the Cadman Affair showed you to be devious and deceptive. The Afghan Affair showed you and your government to be dishonest and manipulative, as well as incompetent.
Your reluctance and refusal to grants access to the media is appalling. Removing journalists from a hotel lobby is undemocratic. Why are you so frightened of the media? Why are you afraid to meet the media in an open forum and answer unscripted questions?
In spite of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, I fear what you may do to the gay community should you ever gain a majority. Your punishment of Diane Ablonczy for her involvement in gay pride gives us a clue. Are you reluctant to support the rights of gay persons?
Your use and misuse of prorogation indicates that personal power is far more important to you than the preservation of parliamentary procedures. You have demonstrated that you will do almost anything to hold onto office. Even worse, to suggest that an opposition party cannot form a coalition is one of the dumbest things you have ever said. Why do you try and subvert centuries of parliamentary tradition and procedure?
Your assault on Statistics Canada and the long form census denies essential information to business, industry and academic researchers across Canada. To suggest that it can be replaced with a voluntary form displays your gross ignorance of the statistical process. Your meddling has sullied the reliability of the data being collected. How often has a Chief Statistician resigned in protest to government interference?
Advising investors to avoid Ontario was destructive and revengeful. Why do you hate Ontario so much? You are the Prime Minister of all of Canada. Your job is to unite, not divide. Your job is to promote all the regions of Canada, not just the tar sands.
You have been reluctant, and have even refused, to protect Canadians abroad. You often let them fend for themselves by not making consular services or assistance available.
Practising the politics of control is destructive of the democratic process. Never have we had a group of Cabinet Ministers who could not speak to the press without the permission of the Prime Minister’s Office. Do you not have confidence in your ministers? You even went as far as trying to vet press releases of the Auditor General.
The G-20 held in Toronto last year betrays your claims of transparency and accountability. Against the advice of members of Toronto City Council you insisted on holding the conference in downtown Toronto where security was almost impossible to maintain. The result was the most egregious and unwarranted violation of civil rights in Canadian history. The entire situation could have been easily avoided, and we would have saved more than one billion dollars. Recent investigations have revealed the misapplication of millions of dollars in Tony Clemente’s riding.
Television attack ads, long before and as well as during an election, reveal you to be mean-spirited and petty. Based upon character assassination and misrepresentation of the truth, they reveal a small-minded attitude. These ads demonstrate moral bankruptcy.
Minority governments can accomplish so much, but yours has done so little. Lester Pearson, during his minority, brought in universal health care, the auto pact, and a new Canadian flag, to mention only a few of his achievements. In comparison, you have accomplished so little.
I am deeply concerned about the viability of our democratic system. While you have been Prime Minister, the principles of democratic and parliamentary government have been under assault. Your obsession with control and the need to crush your political opponents reveal a state of mind that is mean-spirited and divisive. Combined with a culture of deception and deceit that you have fostered, you have divided the Canadian people.
So far your leadership has been devoid of any grand vision for Canada and for Canadians. I fear for our future. You are slowly revealing yourself for whom and what you really are. As Polybius argued so many centuries ago, people don’t change; they merely reveal their full character. What we are finding out about you is not nice. History will not be kind to you.
Grand Bend, Ontario