John Trent taught political studies at the University of Ottawa for 30 years, was a founder of the Council of Canadians and the Action Canada Network, and is now a Senior Fellow with the Centre on Governance. In his new booklet "Harper's Canada", Trent writes about what the Harper Conservatives have been doing as the government of Canada.
Trent says, "As the next federal election draws closer it is important that we remember the actions of the Conservatives and that we ask ourselves what we want the next federal government to do after the election."
In his 40-page booklet, which Trent asks that you read before you vote, he makes numerous interesting points, including:
– "As one studies Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservative government, the authors, journalists and scholars who have written about him rapidly focus a search light on a number or repetitive characteristics. Above all he is an ideologue. He has a narrow view of the world based on his personal economic and social conservative ideas which he has spent a decade trying to impose on Canada. In fact, he is more retrograde than he is Conservative. ...It is clear that Prime Minister Harper has been driven by a preconceived ideological agenda to turn back the clock, to overturn the progressive state and replace it with small, mean, regressive government."
– "Harper had once argued that giant ‘omnibus bills’, used to hide subsidiary legislation, were illegitimate, but he has twice used 900 page omnibus bills, one of them forcing through some 70 hidden laws. For instance, in the Conservative’s latest omnibus bill in the spring of 2015, supposedly dealing with the budget, the government gave itself the power to override the labour law and impose a contentious new sick-leave and disability regime for public servants."
– "The 2011 election was bedevilled by vote suppression tactics and illicit ‘robocalls’ that misdirected electors. They were found to have been the work of someone with access to the Conservative party voter lists. The Court convicted a former Conservative Party staffer for
the robocalls scandal in Guelph and sentenced him to jail, saying it was an 'affront to the electoral process'. The judge also said he believes the employee of the Conservative party did not act alone. Elections Canada pointed out it could never find the culprits until it had
investigative powers to compel testimony and to oblige political parties to keep lists of phone calls."
– "The Harper Conservatives want to ‘re-form’ Canada and the way Canadians think. It is the first government to come into power with this aim. It was not in their election platform and Canadians never gave them a mandate to transform Canadian culture. Nothing is spared. They even want to re-write Canadian history. References to Conservative politicians such as ‘Diefenbaker’ and ‘Macdonald’ started popping up all over. The Harperites also want Canada to be like many other countries – aggressive and warlike. So they started to glorify the history of the War of 1812 and use scarce funds to build war monuments. No word about Canada’s trend-setting record as peacekeepers."
– "The Conservative support for the resource industries and particularly for the oil sands of Alberta knew no limits. Canada became an international climate change denier so Alberta could increase its oil production. We insulted the Americans (remember Harper saying 'It’s a no-brainer') over the southern pipeline to carry Alberta crude to the southern states. Harper put $200 million for a road to reduce costs of petroleum exploration in the Beaufort Sea. Even so, the Conservatives eliminated 100 ‘green energy’ jobs in the Natural Resources Department in 2013."
To read "Harper's Canada", please click here.
In his ongoing work, Trent's concentrates on the reform of international institutions and of the discipline of political science as well as political reform in Canada. To visit his website, click here.