Tory times, as the old saying goes, are terrible times. So it should surprise no one that as we mark the first anniversary of Stephen Harper's majority victory today, the country is increasingly polarized, students are in the streets of Quebec where separatism is again rearing its head, and mean-spirited pink slips are being handed out right and left to public employees accompanied by the pitiless rah-rahs of the Online Tory Rage Machine, parts of which apparently operate out of the United States.
Here in Edmonton and presumably anywhere else in Canada "law-abiding gun owners" can buy an inexpensive Russian SKS assault rifle, complete with a bayonet and an unlimited supply of dirt-cheap full-metal-jacketed 7.62 mm ammunition, all without the nuisance of having to register any of it. A great gun for gopher hunting, they say, and one supposes the bayonet is particularly useful in that regard.
Indeed, you may need your SKS to hunt gophers if you want to eat before your pension kicks in, which pretty soon won't be until you're a couple years closer to 70 thanks to Harper's neo-Con need to save money for military hardware at the expense of the elderly while fostering a sense of economic crisis.
If squirrels and gophers just won't do the trick, maybe you can wander up to Banff or Jasper and pick off an elk or a big-horn sheep -- by the sound of it there won't be nearly as many Park Service employees watching out for you as there used to be.
Of course, the survival of any wildlife may be in doubt thanks to the parlous state of the natural environment, with environmental regulations being gutted right and left so that industrial development can proceed at the lunatic pace demanded by the foreign companies we’re selling out to as quickly as possible. And why not? It's our grandchildren, not some Chinese or Middle Eastern corporate boss's, who are going to have to clean up the mess!
We haven't yet got a dead zone like the one around Chernobyl, back in the former USSR where they make all those lovely SKSes for export, but give it a couple more years.
Of course, you'd better be careful about speaking out about any of this, especially if you take some foreign money to run your environmental charity's mimeograph machine, or the Canada Revenue Agency will come down on you like the proverbial ton of kiln-baked bricks.
Mind you, these rules only apply to people and organizations on Harper's lengthy and Nixonian enemies list. Apparently it's quite OK for the notorious U.S.-based Koch Brothers to shovel tens of thousands of dollars into the coffers of the market fundamentalist Fraser Institute, which enjoys "charitable" status in Canada and the friendship of the government.
Now, among the Fraser Institute's and the Koch Boys' shared dislikes is free collective bargaining. No worries there, the Harper government hates it too, and intervenes in labour negotiations on the side of the employer any chance it gets -- just say Air Canada, or Canada Post.
But if you're an employer and dealing with uppity Canadian employees is still getting you down, thanks to the Tories you’re now allowed to hire "temporary foreign workers" and pay them indentured-slave wages Canadians won't work for. This is said to be popular with companies that bankroll the Conservatives.
Did I forget anything? I mean, other than Harper's plan to slowly choke off federal funding for uniform public health care programs across the country? Without consulting the provinces, of course.
Don't worry about it. You may not need health care anyway if you eat some listeria-laden luncheon meat unchecked by a federal food inspector, which you likely wouldn't have heard about because the CBC has closed another station.
Meanwhile, we Canadians may not be able to afford park workers or equal access to health care, but, by God, we're still going to get those F-35s, the stealth fighter-bomber that isn’t stealthy if it has to carry enough gas to intercept a bomber from Russia and that costs a million dollars to repaint -- which you have to do every time you change the oil or put in a new spark plug, or whatever you do to routinely service a $100-million-plus aircraft with the aerodynamics of one of those kiln-baked bricks. Plus, of course, you can't see out of it and the radios don't work.
Speaking of the armed services, it looks as if we'll now be spending a few more billions -- and God knows how many more gallons of Canadian blood -- fighting an unwinnable war in Afghanistan for … some reason. Maybe ensuring that adequate supplies of heroin produced by President Hamid Karzai's family make it to Vancouver, where Harper would like to close down the Insite supervised injection site.
Did I miss anything, I mean, other than the fact Jason Kenney, Harper's minister of immigration and citizenship, has taken a break from turning away qualified immigrants to celebrate the anniversary by inviting disgraced newspaper tycoon Conrad Black into the country after the man first impolitely renounced his citizenship and was then convicted of fraud and obstruction of justice in the democracy next door.
Yeah, well, it’s only been a year. Conservative government: It just doesn’t get any better than this!
This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, Alberta Diary.
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