April 29, 2011

Since I can't seem to get around to writing...

...I hope that a short video will do for now.

Please excuse Scott's belch and my snort. Poor Kai. Only seven months old and his parents are already proving to be humiliating.

April 08, 2011

A Word from the Wise

Canadians are less than a month away from another election, which is expected to cost about $300 million. Although the result of the election will likely be similar to the pathetic set-up we currently have, I think that the election is necessary. "The Harper Government" (formerly and properly known as The Government of Canada) was found in contempt of Parliament, plus it tabled a budget that it knew full well would not satisfy the opposition parties.

Allow me to share the thoughts of someone far more articulate on these matters than I am.

In thinking about what I could do to try to help make a positive difference during this important election, I decided that I could at least communicate my concerns. I hope that you will bear with me in considering my observations as noted below. Feel free to share this with others if you so wish.

Unlike many Canadians (apparently), I believe that this election is very necessary, and critical to the future of our country. The Conservatives claim that they offer leadership and stability. I think it is essential to ask in what direction the leadership wishes to take us, and what principles will guide them in making important decisions on our behalf. In my view the record of the minority Conservative government speaks loudly and clearly that they operate on the basis of principles that are undemocratic and deleterious to the health of our collective society. They also claim fiscal responsibility, which I find ludicrous in the light of their record of turning large surpluses into massive deficits. I believe that five more years of this kind of “leadership” and “fiscal responsibility” would be disastrous.

With the best of intentions for the future health of our democratic country, Dave.

My problems with the Conservatives under Steven Harper

I respect folks who put themselves forward as candidates to represent us in our federal, provincial, and municipal governments. They are willing to sacrifice a great deal of their time and their personal lives to fulfill their democratic responsibilities. So when a candidate knocks on my door, I would like to be able to engage in an open and honest discussion about the needs of our country and its citizens, and about the priorities for expending our collective resources to meet those needs.

I have observed the actions of our current Conservative minority government and I am so disillusioned that I fear I will be unable to be rational when speaking to a Conservative candidate. Thus, I have recorded my difficulties with the current federal government and I plan to hand a copy of the following to our local candidate when he appears at my door. These notes are not in any particular order of priority. Some are more damaging to the concept of democracy and good government than others. Taken as a whole, the cumulative effect is chilling.

· Contempt of our democratic traditions and procedures – refusing to provide information required by our elected representatives. This has led to the vote of non-confidence, which brought down the “Harper Government”, and resulted in this very necessary election.

· Deliberately misleading Canadians whose understanding of civics is sorely lacking – e.g., calling a coalition undemocratic.

· Twisting the truth – claiming that cancellation of the long form census was endorsed by Statistics Canada (this led to the resignation of the head of Statistics Canada in protest); attempting to deflect blame for cancelling federal support for Kairos (a non-denominational charitable organization supporting good work in the Middle East and elsewhere), and then denying responsibility in testimony before a Parliamentary Committee.

· Demonstrating unbridled arrogance – calling our Government of Canada the Harper Government, and using the term on official government documents.

· Accusing the opposition of employing the very deplorable tactics that they themselves use, under the proposition that the best defence is a good offense, and if you are the first accuser people will believe you over the opposition. It’s a defensive tactic that I find very offensive.

· Engaging in character assassination rather than standing for principles - the infamous “attack ads”.

· Using taxpayer money to spread propaganda about their supposed accomplishments – the ubiquitous “Canada’s Economic Action Plan” campaign.

· Punishing civil servants who exercise their responsibilities conscientiously and “speak truth to power” - e.g., the head of the Chalk River Nuclear Reactor who stood up for nuclear safety (doesn’t it seem more important in the light of what has happened in Japan?); attacking the record of Richard Colvin, a conscientious civil servant who told the truth about the Afghan prisoner abuses; firing the Ombudsman for veterans’ affairs who rightly stood up for better treatment of veterans.

· Denying facts that do not support their fixed ideologies – climate change; Afghan prisoner abuse; “tough on crime” agenda in the face of declining crime rates.

· Emphasis on military spending and weaponry, massive spending on prisons, and unnecessary tax cuts for large corporations, as opposed to investment in meeting the needs of ordinary citizens.

· Accusing the opposition of being undemocratic and opportunistic and of playing political games, all behaviours practiced more frequently and more aggressively by the Conservatives.

· Cancelling two of the greatest accomplishments of the previous government, which received the unprecedented support of all ten provinces and all three territories – the National Child Care Plan and the Kelowna Accord.

· Mismanaging the Federal balance sheet – they inherited a $13 billion surplus and turned it into a $56 billion deficit through their ill-advised tax cuts and over spending.

· Holding contempt for international agreements – the Geneva Convention; the Kyoto Accord.

· Using the infamous “ten-percenter” flyers in strategic ridings, twisting the truth to spread innuendo about their opposition, including employing the insinuation that anyone who criticises any action of the state of Israel is anti-Semitic.

· Hiding behind “national security” to suppress information that might be embarrassing to the Conservative Harper Government.

· Disregarding the rights of Canadian citizens abroad, especially of those whose offense is “traveling while Muslim”.

· Ignoring or refusing to honour rulings of the courts.

· So eroding respect for Canada abroad that we were denied a seat on the United Nations Security Council.

· Removing financial support for or interfering with non-profit organizations that take principled stands on matters with which the Conservatives disagree - Kairos, Rights and Democracy.

· Blatantly disregarding the recommendations of the Federal Poverty Reduction Plan produced by an all-party committee of the House of Commons.

· Demonstrating disregard for facts – cancelling the mandatory long form census.

David B. Clemens, April, 2011