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Stephen Harper’s Canada

Stephen Harper’s Canada

Heidi Rathjen says she was inconsolable for three days when the Conservatives won a majority in May. Rathjen is a wonderful person, multilingual and graceful. She was at the Polytechnique on that fateful day when Marc Lepine murdered 12 of her fellow female students.

The trajectory of Rathjen’s life was completely altered by the Polytechnique massacre. Rathjen has become one of Canada’s most effective tribunes for gun control.

She and the families of the women who were murdered were stricken when Conservative MPs threw a celebration after their bill to abolish the gun registry passed second reading.

Suzanne Laplante-Edward’s daughter was shot down by Lepine. "I am outraged," she said in a statement. "I cannot believe that my taxes are being used to pay for a party where the Conservatives are dancing on my daughter’s grave."

Whether it’s an anti-abortion bill being snuck in through the back door or the out-of-control jet fighter contract or the prison building outrage, there is consternation across Canada about what is happening in Ottawa. And Justin Trudeau touched on it.

The first reaction to Trudeau’s comments was widespread editorial page derision and a feast for cartoonists.

At second glance what Trudeau said to Franco Nuovo on Radio-Canada’s Première Chaîne last week wasn’t so crazy.

Here it is:

"Je dis toujours que si, à un moment donné, je croyais que le Canada, c’était vraiment le Canada de Stephen Harper et qu’on s’en allait contre l’avortement, contre le mariage gai, qu’on retourne en arrière de 10,000 façons différentes, peut-être que je songerais à vouloir faire du Québec un pays. Oh oui. Absolument." ("I always say that if at a certain point I believed that Canada was really Stephen Harper’s Canada and that we were going against abortion, against gay marriage, that we were going backwards in 10,000 different ways, maybe I would think about wanting to make Quebec a country. Oh yes. Absolutely.")

He went on to say that he is profoundly saddened by the right wing direction in which Stephen Harper is taking the country. Later he told Nuovo that Quebec can help restore the balance, and that he believes deeply in Canada.

The outcry was loud in English Canada.

Meanwhile, the independence movement is heading to the ramparts, lighting the cauldrons of vituperation, determined to wedge Quebecers away from Canada. Led by spinmeisters like Jean-François Lisée, the separatist movement is determined to demonize all of English Canada as being right wing Harper look-alikes. For the independence movement the Harper government seems to be a gift from the gods.

Pauline Marois has been trying to rally the troops by conjuring up the scarecrow of a Conservative government. And Harper seems determined to fulfill her scariest predictions. For example, Harper’s idea of industrial policy seems to be breathing life into the toxic asbestos industry in Quebec. For the sake of preserving one seat in Quebec, that of Christian Paradis, they are willing to sacrifice Canada’s reputation internationally. Over and over again they are attempting to govern without even the slightest nod to Quebec.

Bob Rae stepped in to add another dimension. Rae said Stephen Harper is not Canada. Stephen Harper is Stephen Harper. One should not confuse what is great and permanent about Canadian life with a specific period in politics, said Rae.

Bob Rae went on to joke that Justin was still his Valentine. Once again Rae showed a sensibility that is making him a formidable force inside and outside the House of Commons. We can only pray that the absence of leadership being shown by the NDP is because the front bench is away campaigning to be leader. We can only hope that when one of the candidates takes the leadership we will see a reborn Opposition.

Michael Ignatieff was not always wise during his short political career, but he was right on target during the election campaign when he told Michael Valpy that job one for a Canadian prime minister is to keep Quebec attached to Canada. So far, Harper’s Quebec strategy seems to be limited to speaking French in public ceremonies during state visits to foreign countries.

The NDP would be wise to draw some lessons from the foofaraw over Vic Toews’ cyber crime bill. The Minister said that you are either with him or you are with the child pornographers that the bill was supposed to target. Opposition to the bill caught fire on social media, forcing Toews to apologize and send the bill to committee for redrafting.

There is a lesson here for the NDP. Since the election, the NDP has been virtually invisible in Quebec. They are blowing a grand opportunity. At its best, the party is the sum of all the aspirations of tens of thousands of Canadians who have worked all their lives building a civil society. Perhaps it’s time for the NDP to reach out to its allies in that civil society, allies like Heidi Rathjen, to draft a strategy to take on the Tories, before it’s too late.

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  • by Dan Holland - February 23, 2012, 11:07 am

    This is absolute garbage. How would the registry have prevented this tradgedy? These attempts by the left are so stupid, they’re offensive. Get used to the fact that the Tories will be in power for many years to come.

    • by Roberto Vital - February 24, 2012, 1:10 pm

      Dan: the survivors of the polytechnique spent two decades lobbying for stricter gun laws. The registry is a fraction of what they hoped for, once their efforts were watered down by right-wing gun nuts. It wasn’t much in the form of gun control. And yet people like you take pride in taking it down. Good for you. But your Canada is no longer my Canada under such ideology. Hate all you want, But you and your “government’ spat in the face of all gun violence victims.

  • by Gabby in QC - February 23, 2012, 11:19 am

    Ms. Dowson repeats here the same kind of inaccuracies she frequently airs on CJAD.

    • No gun registry or outright ban will prevent anyone who is bent on committing a crime from doing so. Not that I would favour pistol-packing people on the streets … but had one of the students in the Polytechnique had a gun, (s)he might have perhaps brought Lépine down sooner.
    Also, from Wiki:
    “The massacre appeared to have been planned for several months if not longer. In August 1989, Lépine picked up an application for a firearms-acquisition certificate and he received his permit in mid-October.”
    “Kimveer Gill [the Dawson shooter] did in fact have a restricted-class PAL [Possession and Acquisition Licence] and his weapons were registered with the Canadian gun registry. Therefore, he owned the weapons legally under Canadian law though he did not obtain an Authorization To Transport (ATT) to bring the firearm to the school so it was transported illegally.”

    • As for PM Harper governing “without even the slightest nod to Quebec” Ms. Dowson has conveniently forgotten Harper overtures to Quebec, all rebuffed by Charest for his own political gain. Among them
    - Improvements to equalization payments, a gap which then-Liberal leader Stephane Dion denied even existed.
    - Steering the “Quebecois within a united Canada” motion through the House, which Ignatieff had first spearheaded during the Liberals’ leadership campaign. “Justin Trudeau, son of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, criticized Ignatieff for lacking political judgement.” [Wiki]
    The issue grew ever more divisive for the Liberal party, but Harper’s motion brought an audible sigh of relief when it passed in the House with 265 (yeas) to 16 (nays), trumping the Bloc’s plans:
    “Sensing political division in his political opposition, Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe scheduled a motion in the House of Commons for November 23, 2006—similar to the 2003 Parti Québécois resolution passed unanimously by the National Assembly in Quebec—that it also recognize “Quebeckers as a nation”. He knew that the motion would probably be rejected, but argued he could use this to show that Canadians once again did not recognize the identity of Quebeckers. If the motion did pass, he could use it to make claims on Quebec sovereignty. [Wiki]

    There are other inaccuracies in Ms. Dowson’s post, but allow me to point to a more current one, circulated by others in the media. “The Minister said that you are either with him or you are with the child pornographers that the bill was supposed to target” writes Ms. Dowson.
    Actually, in an exchange with Liberal MP Francis Scarpaleggia during Question Period Minister Toews said: “He can either stand with us or with the child pornographers.” Check it in Hansard. Toews did not use “you” meaning all Canadians, as has been portrayed by the media and Ms. Dowson.

    Granted, Toews’ remark was overblown and uncalled for rhetoric, but similar to the kind used against the PM, when he is accused of being dictaorial, a control freak, out to sabotage climate change talks, etc. etc.

    ALL politicians and ALL media would serve the Canadian public much better if they toned down their own rhetoric.

    • by Rob - February 24, 2012, 2:28 pm

      Surveillance systems installed by ISP will not catch child pornographers they will simply use things like VPNs. The government people crafting the bill know this. The child pornographer quote by minister Toews was to spur up all the right wing non thinkers such as yourself in order to bum rush the bill through. It is a draconian fascist bill designed to keep tabs on the Canadian public, to closely observe opposition to the government, and to fulfil the copyright policing wishes of the conservatives American masters.
      As for the gun registry bill it is useful even if the stats dont show a hugely significant decrease in the rate of murders or gun related crime, it’s to track the weapons to their owners when they are recovered, or point of sale, for vendors who may not be observing the law. Why do you think the majority of police officer associations SUPPORT it
      The point is that the majority are in favor of it (the gun law) so Harper repealing it is another example (as is his trying to bum rush through the copyright law and the surveillance law) of his not responding to the will of the majority of the Canadian public. You simply think what he’s doing is right because it supports your point of view…which is in the minority.
      A governments job is to respond to the will of the people, not to simply do what it wants.

  • by Fred - February 23, 2012, 11:52 am

    I don’t know who is dumber, you a or Heidi Rathjen.

    The Government has abolished the long gun registry because it is useless. Even if it had been in place at the time of the mass murder, Gamil would still have been able to buy the same rifle he used.

    So whine away if it makes you feel better, but the LGR was a total waste of $billions just o buy some political boot polish to shine up some elected members reputations and make survivors pretend to feel better becasue “something” was done.

    Time to grow up and act like adults.

    • by ck - February 24, 2012, 10:59 pm

      ” Time to grow up and act like adults.”. Yeah, it’s real “adult” behaviour to celebrate the scrapping of the registry. Yeah, it’s real “adult” of back bencher, Jim Hilyer, to make shoot-out gestures while his vote is counted in HoC.

      Stunning the hypocrisy of Conservatives. They claim to support victims of crime. However, they certainly prove to do everything but support the survivors and the family of Polytechnique massacre victims. They too, were victims of crime. How are the Cons supporting them?? Oh Yeah! ‘Good victim-bad victim’.

  • by Kevin Laforest - February 23, 2012, 12:08 pm

    @Dan & Fred: We welcome healthy debate, but no need to call anyone stupid or dumb.

  • by Observant - February 23, 2012, 1:24 pm

    This is just overt campaign electioneering for the 2015 election because the opposition to the Harper Conservative Majority Government cannot accept the will of the majority of voting Canadians.

    The opposition parties and leftist media malcontents are bombarding us continuously with their vicious propaganda… non-stop sowing of dreary discontent for 4 years.

    Perhaps what the leftist want is civil unrest and upheaval to destabilize our democracy all because they were disunited and defeated in the last election. They just can’t wait for a 2015 election where their chance of winning is still dismal.

  • by Mark - February 23, 2012, 3:13 pm

    The latest revelations are that the results of the last election is now highly suspect following the massive voter deception conspiracy launched against swing ridings in Ontario by an Edmonton call center that has campaigned for the Conservatives. I think we have another US Bush 2000 election situation on our hands here.

    In short, this country will remain deeply, bitterly divided for the next 4 years and Harper’s big brother spying legislation certainly won’t improve things. Fact is, most Canadians still want us to be in Kyoto, want us to care for our environment, want us to protect pensions and keep our internet free and open. Conservative values are not the values of 65% of the population.

    • by Asleigh1 - February 23, 2012, 5:11 pm

      “…. not the values of 65% of the population.”

      The Majority Power in The House CPC Government of Canada speaks for all Canadians. Just the same as The Dictatorial Liberal Majority Government under Mr Chretien spoke for asll Canadians.
      Get over yourself and your tired old complaint about our first past the post democratic traditions. Mr Chertien had a little more than 1% higher count of the popular vote than Mr Harper has now.
      There was a fractured opposition back then just as now.

    • by Maryls - February 23, 2012, 8:36 pm

      Really –so you did a survey to find out that most Canadians still want us in Kyoto? Who did you survey? Everyone I know is greatly relieved that we are not now having to fork over millions to that scam. And yes, we all care about the environment — even Conservatives, so that is not an issue. You, the author and her friend may not agree with Conservative policies, but irrational, overblown rhetoric just weakens your position.

  • by Roy Eappen - February 23, 2012, 5:29 pm

    Miss dowson is a former ndp candidate and it shows . her vision of Canada has little to do with the views of most Canadians. She wants a socialist statist nightmare. She and justin can hang out together , I have always thought miss dowson was also a closet separatist.

    • by ck - February 24, 2012, 11:14 pm

      Yes, “Doctor”, that is exactly it. If we don’t support anti-democratic tactics like snuffing dissent, voter suppression by robocalls, we are pro-separatist.

      Don’t you have a medical practice to run?

  • by Susan - February 23, 2012, 8:31 pm

    This article is inflammatory and disingenuous. The opening line guaranteed placement on news sites across Canada. Even here on the west coast.

    It is so ridiculous to create alarm and say we are under seige because you do
    not agree with the current government which is conservative.

    Such blatant partisan articles make many, more naive or older people wary and often very afraid. Look at the weekly letters to the editors in smaller town papers across Canada and witness the senior´s letters parrotting these partisan, always dire rants. Always sky is falling, the draining of Old Age Security, life is over as we know it. Is it not preferrable that a debate is attempted to be started? With the coming drastic demographic changes some adults better come to the table and start discussing the long range future….of our children and their children.

    Harper is always painted evil, OAS will be gutted and wasted on jets, only Long Gun databases keep us safe, because surely another Lepine the radical woman hating Muslim is surely out there. But oh yes, Justin the savior is waiting to help us.

    Please try just a little bit, to spare us the dramatics.

    • by ck - February 24, 2012, 11:10 pm

      Susan and others like you calling for “debate”. To which I say BS!!!! You want anyone excercising dissent to Harper to shut up and be thrown in jail, just like the G20. Yeesh! Be honest and just admit that you’re pro-fascism!!

  • by Koreen Scott - February 23, 2012, 11:03 pm

    My Oh My Anne, you have drawn some very nasty and vitriolic responses to your thoughtful blog.
    This is the first time I have read your work and I was so impressed with how true your words are.
    I believe that, unlike some or many of the negative comments on this post, you do speak for the great majority of the population.
    Thank you for your article. PS I have great hopes for Justin after this last week!

  • by LaserGuy - February 24, 2012, 12:01 pm

    The ‘gun registry’ is only a very small, useless part of the liberal firearms act. The Registry itself would have made no difference then, or now. It’s simply a huge waste of money that does nothing. Every year the professional ‘grief industry’ goes through this dance on the graves of these women, blaming guns, and men in general. But never seem to blame the individual that did this terrible deed. The Registry Offers NO Safety for anybody, man or woman!
    Isn’t it wonderful, that under Canadian law, there is absolutely NOTHING a woman can legally carry to prevent an attacker from getting close enough to harm her. And if you do, and use it to defend yourself, you will be arrested, dragged through the courts for months, or maybe years. It’s virtually guaranteed that you will suffer far more punishment than your attacker ever will !
    Doesn’t that make you feel Fuzzy, Warm, and Safe?
    Don’t expect a ‘gun registry’ to keep you safe.
    As a Canadian Citizen, you are a Politically Groomed Victim, living in a Culture of Defencelessness..
    Don’t forget to thank a Liberal for this at the next election!

  • by Susan - February 24, 2012, 3:21 pm

    You tell me why this is condoned let alone legal…..

    Couldn’t reply in the proper place to Rob’s earlier comment, which included:

    “Why do you think the majority of police officer associations SUPPORT it…”

    Here’s the simple real reason.

    CGI International created and managed the Long Gun Registry database.

    CGI also happens to provide just over 50% of the yearly budget of the very same Association of Canadian Police Chiefs.

  • by TheLaughingMan - February 24, 2012, 7:15 pm

    Stephen Harper, Rob Nicholson, John Baird and Vic Toews, along with the rest of the Conservatives are liars, cheats and thieves. They are fascists and would turn our country into an Orwellian nightmare! Canada needs to rise up and occupy the parliament, remove the Conservatives from power, followed by some good old fashion tarring and feathering, finish with banishing from Canada! Finally Canadians need some laws that allow us to force referendums on the government and punish corrupt politicians who think they can screw with their people, their employers, you and me!

    People shouldn’t fear the government, the government should fear the people!

    • by LaserGuy - February 27, 2012, 3:45 pm

      And you replace them with what? The Liberals? The NDP? Gimmie a break.. Neither of those parties would do anything but empty the pockets of Canadians. The Liberals still owe MILLIONS from the last fleecing they gave us, and as for the NDP? Ahhh there’s nothing like a socialist party to decry the freedom of the people, and the unfettered ownership of private property, whether they be guns or anything else deemed a danger to the political aspirations of a party dedicated to a ‘share the wealth’ philosophy.. Meaning YOU work, and ‘they’ share the wealth.

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