Ten reasons to oppose the Harper candidate in your riding

| January 5, 2011
Prime Minister Stephen Harper in effigy at an anti-prorogue rally in Ottawa, Jan. 2010. Photo: Greg Pang/Flickr

The following is designed not to insult or ridicule the Harper Conservatives -- it is to show accurately and honestly why the Tories shouldn't run or represent Canada. Stephen Harper promised to "change the face of Canada" so drastically we wouldn't recognize it. He has succeeded and Canadians must decide if that is really what they want.

Money mismanagement

• In 1993, Mulroney's Conservatives chalked up a $38 billion deficit. By 2006, Martin's Liberals turned this into a $16 billion surplus. Now, Harper has given us a $55-plus billion deficit.

• To raise funds, the Tories promoted the HST, which moves the tax burden from corporations to consumers, increasing the cost of essentials like food and heat. The Ontario government has admitted that this will cost citizens at least $500 a year per family.

• In 2011/12, Harper is introducing more corporate tax cuts which will cost $5.6 billion annually, creating a smaller revenue base for the country. On the other hand, Harper's Income Trust "betrayal," will result in a $2 billion a year tax "leakage."

• Also, don't forget the $75 billion bail-out package for banks with no closed tax loopholes or tightened regulations required. Harper's Toronto G-20 Summit was the Austerity Summit where world leaders promised to chop their deficits in half by 2013. Because the Tories don't have a majority, they can't yet cut education funding and raise post-secondary school fees (students already have crippling debts) as in the U.K., but they have made it clear they will make major cuts if and when they can.


Fossil fuel fools

• Harper and Company earned a reputation for heavy-handed stonewalling during the UN Climate Change negotiations in Copenhagen. In Cancun, they lobbied against an extension of the Kyoto Accord -- which they have continued to ignore in spite of the 2010 weather horrors, estimated to cost $220 billion globally.

• They also claim they can't bring in cap-and-trade legislation without U.S. co-operation. They will go ahead with "equivalent" regulations if and when our neighbour does. Now that Obama is ready to cut emissions, we shall see.

• We can't forget that the Reform -- now Conservative -- Party was connected to the Petroleum Club in Calgary. Harper intends to spend massively, expanding Alberta tar sands production -- in spite of resulting CO2 emissions (100,000 tonnes daily), forest clearances the size of Florida, Athabaska River pollution, and toxic tailing ponds.

• Calgary-based Enbridge, responsible for the Michigan river oil spill last summer, wants to build the Western Gateway pipeline to bring tar sands oil to Canada's west coast. One way to cut down on fuel use is to retrofit homes. Harper let the home renovation tax credit expire on Jan. 31, 2010.

• A report revealed that Environment Canada scientists are being muzzled on the subject of climate change. They have been prevented from attending conferences, their websites closed down, and the role of National Science Advisor dropped.

Tortured nation

• Over the crucial moral issue of torture, Harper has played what one observer called "political dodge ball." When allegations that the government allowed the Afghan National Directorate of Security to torture war prisoners first went public, Harper called the governor-general on Dec. 30, 2009, and simply shut down Parliament for 22 days to avoid the controversy.

• Also, the contract of Peter Tinsley, chairman of the Military Police Complaints Commission, was not renewed when it expired in Dec. 2009. Tinsley says Harper's refusal to extend his term, so he could finish investigating the alleged torture of detainees in Afghanistan contributed to a "chilling effect" on cabinet-appointed watchdogs.

• More stonewalling and what some saw as "contempt of Parliament" led to an extraordinary ruling by Speaker Peter Milliken, condemning the government for a breach of parliamentary privilege because it refused to release uncensored documents. Thanks to Harper's manoeuvres, however, the torture issue is now lost in the complexities of an ad hoc parliamentary committee.

Weapons obsession

• The government is buying 65 "problem-plagued" F-35s stealth fighters from Lockheed Martin through an untendered contract worth $9-billion -- an amount which excludes roughly $7 billion more in maintenance costs. That's $16, or according to some sources $21 billion, of our tax dollars -- the largest military procurement in Canada's history. The auditor-general has warned that there could be cost overruns and delays.

• Alan Williams, former assistant deputy minister of defence for materiel, has testified that: "The procurement process is out of control and has degenerated into handouts for the chosen beneficiaries."

• As for smaller weapons, the Tories pushed hard to end the long-gun registry, even calling pro-registry police a "cult." Marty Cheliak, the RCMP chief superintendent and a strong proponent of the registry was suddenly replaced as head of the Canadian Firearms Program because the position was bilingual. Harper said the termination was a "staffing issue" and "not a political matter."

• When an RCMP evaluation of the registry concluded that it was an "important tool for law enforcement," operating efficiently and cost effectively, the government held up the evaluation's release to the House of Commons, saying it was being translated.

• In related matters, RCMP morale is down since Harper appointed an abrasive William Elliott to head the force; the term for Paul Kennedy, chairman of the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP was not renewed after he criticised the force.

Not smart on crime

• Crime rates are down and the population is aging, but the Harper government claims it must introduce tougher laws, incarcerate more Canadians, and spend $9 billion for more prisons -- some of them American-style super-prisons -- because of an increase in "unreported" crime.

• One-third of the 54 bills introduced by the Conservatives over the past several months are related to crime. The Parliamentary Budget Officer predicted a price tag of $7 billion to $10 billion for the cost of passing Bill C-25 alone, which eliminates the two-for-one credit for time served.

• A new report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives think-tank says that harsher prison conditions, longer sentences, and more crowded prisons will increase the chance that criminals will re-offend. Already, prisoners have to wait too long for rehabilitation programs and are being crowded into cells contrary to United Nations standards.

• At the same time, six prison farms, one of Canada's most effective rehabilitation programs, are being closed. Sister Helen Prejean, the U.S. anti-capital-punishment activist, warned about certain Tory members: "If they gain in ascendancy... you'd have a party in power that would put back the death penalty in a heartbeat."

• While paying lip service for victims of crime, the Tories have cut the budget to Grants for the Victims of Crime Initiative by 41 per cent and Contributions for the Victims of Crime Initiative by 34 per cent.

International humiliation

• Canada wanted a seat on the UN Security Council, which would give it status, power, and influence, but it appears that the Harper government's "I'm right you're wrong" attitude alienated too many countries. It suffered what The Globe and Mail called "a stinging defeat" -- which it then tried to blame on Michael Ignatieff.

• Canada was one of only four countries which voted against the UN Declaration on Indigenous Rights when passed by the General Assembly in 2007. (That stance has since been reversed.)

• Harper has helped stop the UN from declaring asbestos a dangerous substance, and still promotes exports to poorer countries.

• Canada took a lead in preventing genetically modified seeds from being banned under the UN convention on Biological Diversity.

• Harper abandoned our internationally praised development partnership with eight of the poorest countries in Africa.

• Instead, he is focussing on Colombia -- a militarized, right-wing country with government death squads.

• Harper's comment that the vicious bombing of Lebanon in 2006 was a "measured" response and his unquestioning support of Israel has also raised questions.

• He has cut funding for UNRWA, the UN agency that provides aid, education, and other services to Palestinian refugees, and has opposed Iran on women's issues while backing Saudi Arabia.

• Harper was also seen as disrespectful of the UN when he skipped out of a General Assembly meeting for a photo op at a Tim Horton's donut store that had just opened in New York.

Big Brother

• Harper is a fan of philosopher Leo Strauss who believed an elite group should rule.

• The non-elected staff in the leader's office controls tactics and strategies. To do this, the Prime Minister's Office increased its taxpayer-paid funding by $1 million.

• Tory MPs, who should be speaking for their constituents, are muzzled. Harper's central authority writes media releases and MPs' often-aggressive statements and questions, laced with personal attacks, for the House. It also provides MPs with "talking points" on issues, so they won't deviate from the party line.

• On a constituency level, unwanted Conservative candidates have complained of "smear" campaigns against them. Generally, those who don't agree with the Harper way become victims of name-calling and what journalist Lawrence Martin calls "demagogic sloganeering."

• CBC's the Fifth Estate has revealed that 20 government departments are now involved in national "security," along with CSIS and the RCMP.

‘I Make the Rules'

• Last spring, the Tories introduced a bill to stop refugees coming from certain countries. The bill gave Immigration Minister Jason Kenney the final say on who could enter Canada. This meant people were not "equal before the law." Kenney would be the law.

• The bill did not go through, but the same principle of arbitrary ministerial discretion and inequality applies in Bill C-49, now before the House of Commons. In this case, the minister of public safety can declare any group of migrants coming to Canada a "smuggling incident" -- allowing authorities to jail men, women, and children for a minimum of one year. Critics say this is against International Law and the Canadian Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.

• Harper himself summed up the Tory attitude after being told that riding an ATV on a restricted airport runway was illegal, responding, "I make the rules."

• Tom Flanagan, Harper's former chief of staff and former campaign manager, a man who remains a mentor and long-time advisor, announced on CBC TV that Julian Assange of WikiLeaks should be "assassinated... Obama should put a contract out on him." He also threatened a woman saying "Better be careful, we know where you live."

Scandalous behaviour

• Former Public Works Minister Christian Paradis has denied knowing that a Montreal fundraiser he attended was organized by LM Sauve construction boss Paul Sauve and packed with industry heavyweights. Meanwhile, Sauve has told a parliamentary committee that the $140,000 he paid Conservative lobbyist Gilles Varin was probably distributed to various party officials.

• Sauve is convinced that's why his company got the $9-million contract to renovate Parliament Hill's West Block in 2008. "Because we paid, we received," he said. The RCMP is investigating.

• The force has also been asked to investigate whether the Harper government illegally leaked cabinet confidential information concerning Taseko Mines -- which may have led to insider trading of the company's shares.

• As well, there was a taint connected to the fact that Harper dined with the head of Fox News in New York. Later, Harper's former spokesman, Kory Teneycke, had to resign as political editor for Quebecor/Sun Media, which is setting up a "Fox News North," after fraudulent names were added to a petition.

• There are fears that CRTC head Konrad von Finckenstein might be replaced by Quebecor's Luc Lavoie, a Mulroneyite, compromising the commission's independence.

Broken promises

• Prime Minister Harper campaigned on accountability and transparency. The Information Commissioner has found the Harper government the most secretive ever when it comes to Access to Information requests; one senior government aide was caught interfering with the process.

• There is an atmosphere of "trench warfare" and "disdain" as the government refuses to co-operate with parliamentary committees. Staff members, who should be accountable to the public, are no longer allowed to testify before them.

• Contrary to his position as an opponent of the unelected Senate, Harper used his new majority to recently stop a climate change bill passed by the elected majority in the House of Commons.

• Elections Canada is battling with a few former Tory candidates; police have raided their offices, over what are considered systematic attempts to hide national campaign expenses during the 2006 election.

Kathleen O'Hara has worked for the media, government, and non-profit groups. Her book, Lost and Found in London will be coming out this year. She is also a member of the Catch 22 Campaign, which is identifying ridings where the Harper Conservatives are most vulnerable in order to promote strategic voting.



That's a hell of a list.

Thanks for posting it...Now if only every Canadian could see it (Are you listening Opposition?)

Sadly Harper has a solid 30- 35%  guaranteed vote...But that leaves about 70% of eligible voters up for grabs.

Armed with these facts about the Harper Reformers,the Opposition should take a page out of the Tories play book and invest in saturating commercial spots outlining these facts.

Where are their strategists?...This would be like shooting fish in a barrel.

Maybe they don't want to offend Harper's 30 + % supporters...Maybe the Opposition is deluded in the idea that they can somehow tap into that 30%

Enough...F**K those 30%ers and appeal and communicate with the leftover 70%.

This list has many flaws. In fact, the very first item is the weakest point. Not a good way to start off.

Mulroney's deficit of $38 billion in 1993, when adjusted for inflation to today's dollars, is actually higher than Harper's $55-billion deficit today.

And what is laughably described as "Harper's Income Trust betrayal" was nothing more than plugging a loophole that had allowed crafty tax planners to offer higher investment returns and lower taxes to the wealthy elites who have piles of cash to invest. Closing that loophole didn't cause a leakage of tax - it stopped it! 

Criticizing Harper for not bringing in cap-and-trade is totally misguided. Such carbon-trading schemes are a complete fraud.

The objection to the purchase of F-35 stealth fighters seems to be based entirely on faulty procurement procedures. The real issue is why do we need these war machines at all?

Are we supposed to be unhappy that "RCMP morale is down"? Frankly, the more demoralized the RCMP is, the better for us all!

The section on "scandalous behaviour" is mostly rumour-mongering.

And there's nothing here about the war in Afghanistan, which is opposed by a majority of the population (except for a mention of the detainee torture scandal, which is a side issue). There's nothing here about Omar Khadr. There's nothing here about security certificates. There's nothing here about the G20 police riot. There's nothing here about Harper's strategy of continental integration with the USA. There's nothing here about Harper's lowering of emission reduction targets. There's nothing here about Abousfian Abdelrazik. There's nothing here about Harper killing off the CBC. There's nothing here about health care, the treatment of native populations, the cuts to arts funding, the concerns of women, increasing disparity of wealth in this country, RCMP misconduct, the attempt to criminalize free speech and exclude visitors like George Galloway because of their opinions, etc. etc.

I could go on, but why bother?

The fact is this "Catch 22 Campaign" project is just a front for the Liberal Party. This is just a laundry list of Liberal talking points. The idea is to con NDP supporters and others who wouldn't normally be caught dead voting Liberal to do just that, in order to try to unseat Conservative MP's. We might as well all just join the Liberals and have done with it.    

You really must start writing formal articles for us MS.

BTW, It's not necessarily Kathleen's fault that some things aren't covered. I asked her to cut her 4,000 word article in half, which she graciously did. 

I'm sorry that a commentator has accused the writer of being a Liberal Party hack.  Excessive partisanship is actually one of the reasons that Parliament is so dysfunctional.  Divide and conquer has worked beautifully for Harper.  Once Ignatieff declared that he wasn't interested in a coalition with the Bloc, Harper saw his opportunity and has been ruling, like a king, ever since.  Even stacking the Senate to get his way.  An opposition that remains fractured along party lines is pretty useless, even, sadly, in a minority government situation.

Kathleen:  I give you credit for seeing what Harper is about and for doing something about it.  Since I also see him as a huge danger to this country, I agree that we need to find ways of getting rid of him or at least clipping his wings.  There are ridings where the NDP don't stand a snowball's chance in hell and others, like mine, where that applies to the Liberals.  Strategic voting against Harper is a pragmatic necessity if we agree that Harper's the greater evil.  And if you consider that the Liberals and the NDP may be able to find some ways of working together to take control of the Parliamentary agenda once Parliament resumes, you are naive to dismiss this approach.

Keep up the good work, Kathleen.

@elizabeth57 is right on!

Not only strategic voting but strategic campaigning as well.

Work for the Candidate in your Riding whose party was either First or Second in general in past elections.

Focus on matters of concern to those in the Riding on which the Cons have acted against or broken their word and not acted.


Am I reading this right or is Spector defending King Harper?

As much as I would love an NDP government...Or,even better,a pure socialist government,it's pretty clear that that isn't in the cards.

And as much as I dislike the Libs,they are nowhere near extremist as the Reformers...I really don't get where people think the Libs are worse than the ass hat lunatic Tories.

It's almost as if some people here on rabble would prefer Harper over the Libs.

Come the next election I'll be voting strategically...The Harpercons MUST GO...at any price.

At this point,the centre is looking pretty good and would be a HUGE upgrade to the far right government we currently have.

Atleast with a centre government,the NDP would have more influence and would force the government to lean slightly to the left.

Harper and his gang must go....After that,we can work on a progressive alternative..Even if that means holding our noses and voting for the Libs.  

Liberal–Tory, same old story.

Don't kid yourselves that you've come up with some brilliant new strategy or insight into Canadian politics. Canadians have been doing exactly what you suggest since Confederation - throwing out one capitalist government in order to replace it with another, because the ones sitting across the aisle couldn't possibly be worse than the ones in government, now, could they? And after all, we can't afford the luxury of actually voting for what we really believe in, can we? 

We have sent generations of men and women off to war, (foolishly) consoling ourselves that their sacrifice is protecting our right to vote, and then what do we do with that sacred right? We vote for the Diefenbakers because we hate the Liberals so much, and we vote for the Ignatieffs because we hate the Conservatives so much. Canada has never had a CCF or NDP government, and it never will, as long as this kind of thinking prevails. It's the same thinking that has destroyed the United States political system and made it impossible for a third (i.e. non-capitalist) party to have a hope of ever being elected. 

Boy, the LiberaTories have really got you people hooked!

Spector,I get what you are saying and I don't entirely disagree.

On the issues of Afghanistan and Israel,the Libs and Cons are carbon copies.

On social issues,the Libs are a teeny tad more conscience than the Cons.

The Liberals are not a left wing party and their quest to please everyone has them stuck smack dab in the middle.

The good thing about a minority centre partry,is to have the power inn the House they would have to work with the Bloc and the NDP.

The NDP would keep this minority centre party leaned to the left,not the right.

I would like nothing better than to vote NDP...But my riding is a Liberal stronghold (unfortunately)

So,I vote NDP---great...But no one else is going to....In every other election I voted for the NDP candidate.

This time,if the Cons are actually gaining momentum,I can't risk using my conscience...I have to vote for the party that will defeat the Reformers.

Once Harper is gone,the reality and hope for some progressive politics will be possible.

A minority Liberal government would allow the NDP to pull some strings in the House.

If the NDP has some influence in policy making,this will only increase the NDP's popularity among progressives who,as you said,are hooked on voting Liberal...Mostly because their parents did and their parents parents did,etc...etc..

This would be the only real vehicle for the NDP to gain some popularity.

Harper doesn't give a shit about unifying Canadians...He sees victory through dividing Canadians.

As it stands the NDP have no influence in the House...And what's even more disturbing is the NDP is almost JUST as complacent with Tory policy as the Libs right now.

Why?...Probably because they've been politically castrated by Harper's wedge politics....Much like the Libs.    

Once Harper is gone,the reality and hope for some progressive politics will be possible.

This sounds familiar. Whare have we heard this before? Hmmm...

Oh. yes. It was the Big Excuse that the American phony left gave for voting for Obama in 2008: once George W. Bush is gone and Barack Obama is in the White House we'll be able to "influence" the government and "create space" for left-wing politics.

Yeah, I knew I'd heard it before. And look where we are today.

Ask yourself why a minority Liberal government would have to listen to the NDP, given that:

(a) the present minority Conservative government doesn't have to listen to the NDP, and it has survived longer than any previous minority govt.;
(b) the Liberals would be much more comfortable currying favour with the Conservative official opposition if they want to stay in power;
(c) the NDP would have zero bargaining leverage with an Ignatieff minority government; what are they going to do, threaten to force an election, and give the Cons a chance to get back in?

Wake up and smell the coffee, Alan. There's simply no way to finesse your way around the fact that the NDP is a small minority party, and the only way for it to accomplish anything progressive (assuming for the monent that it has any intention of doing so, given its recent rightward swing) is to become a Big party. That won't happen if progressives keep voting their second or third choice based solely on fear.

I get it,Spector...

But Harper has to go and I don't feel threatened by the Libs.

Yeah,it's pretty sad that the state of politics is voting for the 'lesser of 2 evils' but ANY of the official Opposition parties or unofficial parties including the Rhino Party would be a welcome alternative to the Tories.

What the hell else can I do?...Vote Conservative because the Liberals are liars? 

What the hell else can I do?...Vote Conservative because the Liberals are liars?

If Ignatieff forms a government I predict that that's exactly what you will end up doing at the following election!

Bottom line is that any time you vote for a party or candidate you don't really support you are wasting your vote. But it's worse than that: You could waste your vote by simply staying home on voting day, but giving it to someone you don't support is to actively work against your own interests.

Aren't we, as citizens, powerless enough as it is, without turning what infinitesimal power we do have against ourselves?  

Staying home on election day is precisely why we have the ass hat Tory party in power in the first place.

We get less than 40% of the electorate out to vote...The thing is,conservatives are not apathetic voters...It's all us 'progressives' who stay home because of the political system that you mention.

In my life,I have never known a government as hated as the Harper Tories...This includes the Mulroney PC's.

But somehow,Harper clings to power with a solid 35% support.

If less than 40% of voters turn out at the ballot boxes and the Tories still can't manage a majority but cling to a minority,imagine if we had 80% voter turn out.

Personally,the next election is all about turfing the Tories.

I think back to the Chretien years and as much as I didn't like Chretien,he didn't send ground troops to Iraq,we almost decriminalized pot (even though during the Chretien years,cannabis was unofficially decriminalized),he didn't give us a deficit from new prisons,police,fighter jets and didn't spend over a billion dollars on Summit meetings and year after year of surpluses without destroying our social safety net.

The Liberals are a hopelessly centrist party...And as I said,there is more wiggle room for the left with a centrist government than there is with an ideological far right government.

The Libs are not an extremist party and are atleast willing to try to unite Canadians without dividing the country with wedge issues.

I'm just saying that I am personally at a political crossroads where I welcome any other party to take over in Ottawa.

My objective in the next election is to see Harper go and I don't care how it has to be done.

But that is THIS election....There's not a snow ball's chance that I will become a card carrying Liberal...But I am a card carrying Harper hater. 

Personally,the next election is all about turfing the Tories.

Just as the 2006 election was all about turfing the corrupt and arrogant Paul Martin Liberals.

Just as the 1993 election was all about turfing the remnants of the Mulroney regime, led by Kim Campbell.

Just as the 1984 election was all about turfing out the John Turner Liberals.

Just as the 1980 election was all about turfing out the stumbling, bumbling Joe Clark Tories.

Just as the 1979 election was all about turfing out the Trudeau Liberals for their massive deficit and profligate spending.

Just as the 1957 election was all about turfing out the arrogant St-Laurent Liberals after 22 years of Liberal governments.

Just as the next election after Iggy or Bob Rae becomes PM wil be "all about" turfing them out on their ass.

The LiberaTories have got you hooked like a junkie on crystal meth. Can't get off the merry-go-round!

When do we get to vote for what we want, what we really, really want?


When apathetic voters get off their asses and show up on election day,we'll get the government we deserve.

Your point is well taken but I'm not going to stay home come election day...As I always vote.

And I will cast my vote against the Reform Party.

And I hope everybody else who hates these fucking bastards do the same.

Staying home is a vote for the Cuntservatives...They're not going to get my vote.  

Where did I tell you to stay home? All I said was that staying home is a waste of your right to vote, but that going to the polls and voting for something you don't really believe in is worse than merely wasting your vote.

As for the apathetic non-voters, I'd just as soon they continue to stay out of the picture and not pick my government for me until they become a lot less apathetic and grab a social conscience for a change.  

But most people who choose to stay home instead of vote lean to the left...If they'd get off their duffs and vote maybe we can have all that 'hope and change' Obomba promised.

It'll never happen if we can't break 50% voter turn out.

I've contemplated the idea of some of those European riots happening in the streets of Canada but our populous is too apathetic and docile.

The only thing we have is a vote...In a perfect world every vote would count (PR) but we're not there.

I am literally sick to my stomach with what is representing and governing Canada right now and I can't stomach any more of it...

It just seems that we are in desperate times and it may call for desperate measures.

But most people who choose to stay home instead of vote lean to the left

Your evidence for this startling proposition?

How about continuing this conversation on babble:


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