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Politics and its Discontents: How To Stop Stephen Harper’s Use of The CRA As An Instrument Of Terror: The Beginnings Of A Plan

Lately I have been writing some posts on Stephen Harper’s reign of terror, his relentless attacks on charities that oppose his agenda. Groups as diverse as the United Church of Canada, Oxfam, and PEN Canada have fallen victim to this vindictive miscreant, undergoing audits thanks to the Prime Minister’s misuse of the CRA as his chief weapon. The more I read and learn about this egregious and contemptible misuse of power, the more upset and angry I become, given that this strikes at the heart of one of our most treasured freedoms, the right of free speech. I have been (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Harper’s Reign of Terror – Part Four

Except, that is, in Harperland. The latest Orwellian edict to come down from the Harper-directed CRA, reported by The Winnipeg Free Press, is as follows:

The Canada Revenue Agency has told a well-known charity that it can no longer try to prevent poverty around the world, it can only alleviate poverty — because preventing poverty might benefit people who are not already poor.

The bizarre bureaucratic brawl over a mission statement is yet more evidence of deteriorating relations between the Harper government and some parts of Canada’s charitable sector.

The lexical scuffle began when Oxfam Canada filed papers with (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Harper’s Reign of Terror – Part Three

The prospect of being hanged focuses the mind wonderfully. – Samuel Johnson

While I doubt that many within the Harper regime are literary types or schooled in the humanities, I suspect the above quotation or variants thereof represents the underlying spirit of their relentless attacks on nonprofits that oppose the government’s ruthless agenda.

And now there are indications that the noose is tightening, that the focus of those attacks is widening, with the purpose not only of cowing advocacy groups into silence lest they lose their charitable status, but also their supporters.

Today’s Star offers this chilling lead:

Canadian charities (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: King Stephen And The Law Of Diminishing Returns

Last evening I wrote a brief post on how the Harper regime is exploiting the tragedy in Gaza for political gain.

Anon responded with the following:

It is worse than no shame. It is disgusting. Over 630 people have died, including 30 Israelis and over 600 Palestinians, mostly non combatants and civilians including children. And he uses it as an opportunity to fundraise? And Cons supporters are OK with it? No wonder they are called the Nasty Party by pundits (e,g, Hebert, Coyne).

That comment got me thinking about the much-vaunted Tory base, which, perhaps, is beginning to show some (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Harper’s Reign Of Terror – Part 2

Yesterday I wrote a post on the war being conducted by Stephen Harper and his cadre against dissent in Canada. Specifically, the Prime Minister is diverting CRA resources and taxpayer monies to investigate those non-profits not on board with his agenda. Environmental groups have been especially hard hit.

Today comes word that the scope of Harper repression is expanding. As reported in The Toronto Star, the knock at the door has happened at PEN Canada.

The Canada Revenue Agency has launched a political-activities audit of PEN Canada, a small charity promoting freedom of expression that has criticized the Harper (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: On Harper’s Reign of Terror

Last week, Owen wrote a post he entitled Corrupting Civil Society, a reflection on the Harper war on non-profits that stand in opposition to any of his regime’s agenda. I recommend reading it for a good overview of the situation.

In yesterday’s Star, three letters articulated three excellent perspectives on this shameful war:

Tories intimidate charities into silence. Who’s next? Opinion July 16

One way to deal with the Harperites’ bullying of charities might be for all charitable organizations to renounce their charitable status. Personally, I make most of my donations to non-charities. I figure they are doing (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Not So Hard To Understand

This morning’s Star reports the fact that Canada’s sesquicentennial in 2017 is eliciting something less than enthusiasm from the majority of Canadians living outside of Alberta:

Albertans are far more excited than other Canadians about the looming 150th birthday of the country in 2017, a new poll has found.

A full 70 per cent of Alberta residents intend to take part in the 150th celebrations — much more than the 58 per cent of Ontarians or 31 per cent of Quebecers who said they planned to participate, says the poll, which was carried out by Leger Marketing for the Association (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: On Federal Byelections

It is commonly held that Stephen Harper chose June 30 for the four recent byelections in the anticipation that turnout would be low. Even the advance polls, which were set for Friday and Saturday of what for many would be a long weekend, offered little motivation for the winter-weary to cast their ballots before escaping town. The turnout statistics show that the Prime Minister got his wish:

Fort McMurray-Athabasca (15.2 per cent)Macleod (19.6 per cent)Scarborough-Agincourt (29.4 per cent) Trinity-Spadina (31.6 per cent)

However, according to Tim Harper, not everything worked out according to plan. (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: The Long Reach Of Partisan Politics

h/t Montreal Simon

In Ontario, we noticed the long federal reach of divisive partisan politics during our recent election. Joe Oliver, our alleged finance minister, interposed his views, lamenting the fiscal state of Ontario that, according to him, is bringing down the rest of Canada. Of course, the disingenuous Uncle Joe denied trying to interfere in our electoral contest. Indeed, he kept up his unsolicited advice post-election, suggesting the following to Premier Kathleen Wynne:

In her column today, The Star’s Carol Goar offers a pungent rebuttal and some advice to the minister and his government:

He ignored the fact that (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Thomas Walkom Misses The Mark

One of the reasons I subscribe to The Toronto Star is the quality of its columnists. Tim Harper, Martin Regg Cohn, Thomas Walkom, Heather Mallick, etc. rarely disappoint. However, no one is perfect, and today’s column by Walkom is not up to his usual critical standards.

Entitled Conservatives’ downfall could be Stephen Harper’s dismissive tone, the piece seems to suggest that if Harper were nicer, people wouldn’t perceive his government in nearly as bad a light as they do:

When the obituary is finally written on Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government, it is the tone that will stand out.

(Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: On Harper’s Unhealthy Interest in Us

Even though we are away, I arose early enough to peruse The Toronto Star, and offer the following as additional evidence of its readers’ perspicacity:

Re: Harper nominates next privacy watchdog, May 29

Keep an eye on our spies, Editorial June 1I applaud the Star for taking a robust stand against the systematic corrosion of Canadians’ privacy rights under the proposed Tory legislation, as well as standing against revelations of already widespread snooping into our private data without proper oversight. This activity is the definition of governmental abuse, and reeks of opportunism of the vilest sort in a democracy.

(Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: On The Madness of ‘King’ Stephen

Whenever I need evidence that politically aware and engaged citizens are not an endangered species, I turn to the letters section of The Toronto Star. Here are two from yesterday and one from today that amply demonstrate resistance to the kind of group-think so much beloved of the extreme right:

Method in Tories’ madness hard to fathom, May 31

I don’t think Stephen Harper’s methods over his time in the PMO are really so hard to fathom. When he was in opposition there was talk of Harper’s “secret agenda.” What has happened is that he has pulled his secret (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Contempt Of The Electorate?

Tom, a friend of mine, posted the following on Facebook yesterday:

Kind of tired of all the polemical posturing in the latest election. However, can anyone provide one instance in history — at least, since the advent of the Industrial Revolution — where, corporate or business tax cuts, the basis of trickle down economic policy, have been primarily responsible for an upsurge in hiring or the oxymoronic fictional concept of job creation.

I replied:

Tom, you are asking a question that the media refuse to ask. Considering who owns most of the media in this country, this is perhaps not (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Signs

While I have never been one to use the term fascist profligately, the creeping authoritarianism that has been the hallmark of the Harper regime gives pause for reconsideration. As the above graphic shows, and as any well-informed citizen knows, the cabal has been intent for many years on tearing down confidence in some institutions while exalting others. The nuances, variety and diversity of a healthy society are discouraged, even suppressed. Cultivating a black-and-white mentality within the population makes it easier to maintain and further control.

Perhaps the most recent and egregious examples of institutional attack has been Harper’s attempt to (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Who’s Afraid Of The Big Bad Electorate?

Some critical thinkers might conclude it is the Harper regime, given the curious date they have assigned for four federal byelections. Recommend this Post

Politics and its Discontents: Why Is The Harper Regime Surveilling Us?

It’s a good question, but unfortunately and predictably, the government is providing us with no answers.

As reported in today’s Star,

The federal privacy watchdog’s concerns over electronic snooping are being met with silence from members of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s cabinet.

Interim Privacy Commissioner Chantal Bernier directly appealed to four cabinet ministers and the federal government’s chief bureaucrat to reform Ottawa’s electronic snooping practices between February and March. Only one cabinet minister, Treasury Board President Tony Clement, has responded to Bernier’s letter.

Meanwhile, a Star reader offers a pungent assessment of how our country has devolved under the (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Digital Peeping Toms: They Don’t Even Bother To Hide Anymore

That is certainly the conclusion I drew after reading this morning’s latest Star revelation about our overlords in Ottawa. Entitled Ottawa is ‘creeping’ your Facebook, the article by Alex Boutilier reveals yet more unwholesome intrusions into our privacy being conducted by the Harper regime.

In a January report to Parliament, interim privacy commissioner Chantal Bernier raised concerns about accountability in data sweeps of the Internet. She has now expressed those concerns directly in a letter to Treasury Chair Tony Clement:

An “increasing number” of government institutions are collecting publicly available personal information from sites like Facebook and Twitter “without (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Unfit To Govern

I have to admit that even though I am now in my sixties, I have never before witnessed the kind of behaviour on the part of a Canadian government as I have of the Harper regime. Contemptuous of opposing views, ready to vilify opponents at every turn, the regime has taken even me, an inveterate cynic, by surprise in its latest salvo. In a word, Harper’s the attack on the Supreme Court is unprecedented in a healthy democracy.

To say that Stephen Harper is mentally unhealthy is to state the obvious. To say that his twisted psyche sees enemies everywhere (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Well-Said

While I may write something of my own later today, the letters in this morning’s Star are both incisive and damning of the Harper regime’s penchant for insinuating itself into our lives by bribing telecoms and social media to turn over our private date at the rrate of $1 to $3 each. Enjoy:

They are watching you, April 30

Alex Boutilier makes it clear why the telcom companies are so willing, indeed delighted, to cooperate with government spy agencies and deliver up, for just the asking, our private communications for scrutiny. They get paid for it. This is part of (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: If You Value Your Privacy

Watch. Learn. Share freely.

Recommend this Post

Politics and its Discontents: Are We Feeling Any Outrage Yet?

If we care a scintilla about privacy or any measure of aversion to government snooping into our private business, we damn well should be. As I wrote in yesterday’s post, the Harper regime and its complicit agencies, intoxicated with power, have been requesting (sans warrants) and receiving data on us from the major telecoms and social media sites.

Now word comes that these Judases are being paid for their obsequious compliance by our tax dollars:

The Toronto Star reports the following:

Canadian taxpayers are footing the bill for government agencies to buy their private data from telecom companies without (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Less Than Meets The Eye

Were average citizens given to much political reflection, they would realize that from start to finish, the ‘Fair’ Elections Act has been almost exclusively about both discouraging people from voting and suppressing the vote of those who do not fit the Conservative Party’s target ‘audience.’ Even in light of yesterday’s announced amendments, that remains the case.

While the Act has provoked a flurry of steady, relentless, critical coverage, both in mainstream and social media, to view yesterday’s ostensible retreat as a real victory is to misread the situation badly. Two aspects of the bill will, I think, (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Sometimes, Clicking Your Heels Does Not Send You To Kansas

This thoughtful letter explains why:

Re: Tory MP takes aim at elections watchdog, April 9

When it comes to fairness and objectivity, I have more faith in the former auditor general of Canada, Sheila Fraser, and in the current chief electoral officer, Marc Mayrand, than in Pierre Poilievre, the arrogant Conservative minister of state for democratic reform. Whenever I see or hear the minister denigrating an upstanding Canadian citizen who has had the courage to express a sincere concern about the government’s so-called Fair Elections Act, I can’t help imagining Poilievre clicking his heels together each time he meets with (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: You Know Things Are Really Bad

…when even The Globe and Mail takes issue with its party of choice. In a blistering editorial entitled Harper Tories undermining democracy, to their own peril, the Globe attacks the ‘Fair Elections Act and the attitude and deceit behind it, on a number of fronts. I hope you will take a few moments to read the entire piece. I will try to whet your appetite with the following excerpt:

…Democratic Reform Minister Pierre Poilievre this week told senators that Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand has been so critical of the Fair Elections Act because “he wants more power, a (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: A Powerful Indictment

Thanks to The Salamader for bringing the following letter by Jacob Kearey-Moreland to my attention. Published yesterday in The Orillia Packet and Times, it is a powerful indictment of the ‘Fair’ Elections Act and the mentality behind it. For anyone wishing to drop him a line, his contact information appears at the end of the letter:

The Orwellian-named Fair Elections Act, while on the surface appearing to disenfranchise Canadian non-Conservative voters and, in other ways, advancing the interests of its authors, seems to have as its underlying driving force an attempt to undermine democracy itself.

Canadian democracy is under (Read more…)