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Fig leaves fall: The phony populism of the Harper government

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The populist fig leaves worn by Stephen Harper and his ministers -- you can order facsimiles online -- to hide the truth that this government has only one priority -- low taxes for the wealthy, at the expense of everyone else -- were torn asunder by two events on the eve of the resumption of parliament this week.

Last Thursday, Transport Minister John Baird stood behind a blue sign that read "Protecting Canadians" to announce new fees to be charged to all air travelers to fund additional security measures at the country's airports. The user-fee that the minister denied was a tax will raise $1.5 billion in new money over the next five years.

While in opposition, Conservatives called fees charged at airports an "air tax", but now the T word has been expunged from their vocabulary. Baird wore his innocent face while making the announcement. This is in contrast to his snarly face, the one he wears while answering questions in the House of Commons.

In Charlottetown meanwhile, Harper cabinet minister Helena Guergis showed up at the airport fifteen minutes before the scheduled departure of her Air Canada Jazz flight to Montreal.

The minister, accompanied by oversize bags she wanted to carry on to the plane yelled at the Jazz agent to hurry up because he was wasting her time. When asked to remove her boots, after running through the security check setting off the bells, she threw the footwear at a security official. She yelled at another employee: "I'm going to be stuck in this shithole because of you."

Then Guergis and her aide lunged at the security barrier and began kicking and banging on the glass.

The plane's departure was held up and the minister was allowed on board.

Fascinating juxtaposition: one Conservative minister announcing an increased airport fee in the name of security, and baldly denying it is a tax, while another minister of the crown spews contempt for the airport workers who are the country's first-line of security at airports.

Anyone who was not a member of Harper's little elite would have been arrested and cooled off in a cell for behaving the Guergis did. AndI thought this government was tough on crime.

Harper and his ministers like to portray themselves as good old Tim Hortons Canadians who are not to be confused with the pointy-heads in the opposition parties.

The fig leaves have fallen. The Conservatives don't have to wait now for the nude machines to be installed at airports to be exposed for what they are.

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