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Why Not Harper? Let us count the reasons...

Blog posts reflect the views of their authors.
Our Dear Leader [Photo: Stephen Harper via flickr]
Our Dear Leader [Photo: Stephen Harper via flickr]

By Gordon Allen

We have always had scandals involving expenses and politicians but the abuse of power and trampling of our democratic laws and traditions has been unprecedented under Harper. Even his most ardent supporters can't say this is good, or positive or should make us proud. If you are thinking of voting Harper please read and consider all of this list.

With respect, these should disqualify him for consideration and this is only a partial list:

In and Out Affair: involved 67 conservatives giving fake receipts to breach election spending

The Conservative Party and its fundraising arm pled guilty to some Elections Act charges stemming from their exceeding spending limits in the 2006 campaign. The investigation cost taxpayers over $2 million. This involved 67 conservative MPs or candidates giving fake receipts to breach election spending limits and was denied by Harper until the quiet guilty plea.

Stephen Harper Found in Contempt of Parliament

For refusing to disclose information on the costing of programs to Parliament, which Parliament was entitled to receive, the Harper government became the first in Canadian history to be found in contempt of Parliament. This alone is a big deal. Even the Speaker of the House found it indefensible.

Against Court Order, Refusal to Share Budget Info

Even though it lost a court case and was ordered to comply, the Harper government nevertheless still refused to share, 170 times, reasons and impacts for cuts with Canada's independent budget watchdog, mocking Parliament's right to control the public purse.

Conservatives Engage in Abuse of Process with Omnibus Bills

Harper's party pushed legislation through Parliament via omnibus bills, the scale of which Parliament had never seen. Such bills are widely condemned as an abuse of the democratic process, because they blend and bury so many controversial laws within one dense package. Harper himself once railed against them, and his born again love for them made his own MPs queasy. Referencing such bills, former auditor general Sheila Fraser said that "Parliament has become so undermined that it is almost unable to do the job that people expect of it."

Illegitimate Prorogation of Parliament. Twice

Prorogations are a legitimate procedure that can be abused depending on motivations. The Harper government provoked 60 protests across Canada and beyond its borders in 2010 after shutting the legislature's doors to escape condemnation on the Afghan detainees' file. It was the second prorogation in a year's period.

Conservative Convicted on fraudulent Robocalls Scam, court finds data originated in Conservative party data base.

Tory operative Michael Sona was given jail time for his role in the robocalls scam. The judge indicated more than one person was likely involved. In another court judgment in a case brought by the Council of Canadians, the ruling said the robocalls operation was widespread, not just limited to the Guelph riding. Donald Segretti who did dirty tricks for the Nixon White House told a Canadian reporter his skullduggery didn't go so low as to run schemes sending voters to the wrong polling stations.

CPC Elections Bill Strips Power from Elections Canada

The Fair Elections Act also makes it harder for Canadians to vote as more ID is required. Nationwide protests in which more than 400 academics took part forced Pierre Poilievre to withdraw some measures in the bill because of their alleged anti-democratic bent. Election Canada's budget has been cut to just 10% per day of what it was in last election.

Revenue Canada Targeted to Attack Charities

Not all charities, just the ones that don't seem adequately aligned with the Harper brand. Enough to include many environmental, aid, human rights and free speech charities that banded together to push back against what looks like a politically motivated witch hunt. When an investigation into whether there was PMO coercion became possible, Revenue Canada instructed all staff to destroy all text message records, against standard procedures.

Record Amounts of Partisan Political Advertising, on the Public Purse

Several media reports told how the Conservatives used taxpayer money for partisan political advertising in record quantity, costing the public treasury $750 million since Harper became PM. In one instance, the Tories spent lavishly on ads for the promotion of a jobs grant program that had yet to be made public or presented to parliament or the provinces. Even more nakedly partisan, a mailed blast, charged to the taxpayers, targeting Justin Trudeau.

Billions Borrowed without Parliament's Permission

The auditor general sounded alarms about the "prodigious" growth and size of federal borrowing. Those billions in "non-budgetary" spending used to get Parliament's oversight, but no more. The finance minister can borrow what he wants without Parliament's permission. Why?

A loophole buried in a 2007 Harper omnibus bill.

Clampdown on Freedom of Speech of Diplomatic Corps

Ottawa's diplomats must get all communications approved from Conservative political operatives. Under Harper, the country's ambassadors are hardly heard from any more. In a recent speech, former United Nations ambassador Stephen Lewis said our political culture under the Conservatives has descended into "a nadir of indignity."

Harper refuses (the only PM  ever),  to debate on national TV where most can watch. He won't hold open political rallies( attendees are pre-screened). He cancels media interviews, and answers only a limited number of questions.

Protesters Put under Blanket Surveillance

According to a leaked memo, as part of its command and control approach, the Conservatives have approved a system wherein all advocates, protesters and demonstrations can be monitored by authorities. The Government Operations Centre has requested federal departments to assist it in compiling a comprehensive inventory of protesters. Security specialists have called it a breach of Canadians' Charter of Rights. Conservatives have moved to give CSIS even more powers than the spy agency wants.

There is no justification for the above by pointing to past governments that had failings, like (Ad Scam-sponsorship Scandal, or Mulroney-- AirBus). Theses were awful, but were decades ago and, significantly, involved run of the mill greed involving a few people as opposed  to the undermining of our democracy and abuse of power infecting this government so widely. 

Perhaps if you can not support any alternative party other than the Conservatives, you will not vote and then a new Conservative leader will soon be elected and the party can return to its former ethical high ground it had under Joe Clark, Bob Stanfield, or even for all his failings, Brian Mulroney. Then the party can be a positive and much needed force in Canadian politics.

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