rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

STFU: Harper's governance style in four words

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support rabble.ca for as little as $5 per month!

I'd like to thank Conservative Senator Nancy Ruth for her earthy comment. She has, in four short words, epitomized the past four years of the reign of King Stephen the First. "Shut the fuck up" (STFU) explains perfectly this government's mentality toward all you uppity, ornery, outspoken citizens who dare query, question, debate and protest the Conservatives.

STFU is Harper's style of governance (see Murray Dobbin's wonderful 10-part series on Harper's assault on democracy). Senator Ruth's STFU is a gift to all Canadians who have been searching for a bumper sticker phrase to sum up Harper and co's sneering revulsion toward any and all opposition.

Prorogation parts one and two were STFU's aimed at those wanting to expose this government's chicanery. You say you wanna a coalition? Well, STFU and we're shutting down the joint. You want to question us on how Afghan prisoners were handled by Canadian soldiers? STFU, let the Olympics pacify you, and we'll get back together when everyone's been sufficiently STFU'd.

The Harper government is fond of preemptive STFU's (like Dr. Evil's bag of "sh"). Ministers, backbench Conservative MPs, and civil servants are muzzled -- STFU'd before they can even speak.

If someone speaks out before an STFU can be delivered, they are either fired (see vocal civil servants) or have their reputations smeared (see Richard Colvin, Linda Keen, Marc Mayrand etc).

A how-to manual on disrupting parliamentary committees was devised and issued by the Conservatives as a way to STFU opposition colleagues and parliamentary process.

Don't toe the Conservative line or you have a perspective that gives the Cons the skeevies? Your STFU is served up through cancellation of funding. The last cheque Match International (and 10 other women's groups), KAIROS, and the Canadian Arab Federation got from the feds was one stamped "STFU".

Foreign statespeople who are at odds with Harper's parochial ideology, for example British MP George Galloway, get an STFU and denied access to Canada.

Harper's total failure to be open and transparent -- indeed given stunningly poor grades by the federal information commissioner -- is a big STFU to any citizen exercising her or his right to request information.

Want un-censored documents on Afghan prisoners? STFU. You can't have them. Say you want to negotiate with the Taliban instead of kill them? STFU "Taliban" Jack. Criticize the military? STFU while we wrap ourselves in the flag. Concerned about the international embarrassment that is Canada when it comes to addressing climate change? STFU and now there's a Tim Horton's photo op to attend. I could go on (in fact, please feel free to add more instances of STFU below). But I'm depressing myself (C'mon Eric - STFU and snap out of it!).

In a rich and delightful twist to this story, John "Rusty" Baird, the Conservative Minister famous for red-faced yelly rants such as telling Toronto to "fuck off" when the mayor asked the feds for transit funding, has said that Senator Ruth's comments are: "completely unacceptable and in no way, shape or form represents the view of the government."

I guess he wishes Senator Ruth had STFU.

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.


We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.