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.

Eric Mang

Eric Mang

Eric Mang served as a political aide in the Harris government in Ontario and the Campbell government in British Columbia. His politics have since shifted left. He works full-time in health policy, part-time...