No More Nice Guy: Canada’s Democracy & Reputation Tarred

It turns out Canada’s reputation is getting as toxic as the Alberta tar sands tailings ponds:



Some more facts:

  • Canadian federal taxpayers subsidize the oil industry $1.38 billion a year. And that’s not counting your Province’s subsidies to the oil industry.
  • The International Energy Agency says up to two thirds of known fossil reserves must be left in the ground to avoid a 2°C global temperature rise.
  •  The Canadian government has mounted an intensive lobbying campaign to weaken clean fuel standards that the European Commission has proposed to achieve its climate change targets.



election fraud*

And, as often happens in petrostates, Canadian democracy has been subverted. Yesterday a judge ruled that election fraud happened during the 2011 federal election by someone who had access to the Conservative Party of Canada’s database, although the judge was careful not to directly blame the CPC party:

“I am satisfied, however, that the most likely source of the information used to make the misleading calls was the CIMS database maintained and controlled by the CPC, accessed for that purpose by a person or persons currently unknown to this court.”

In summary: election fraud happened, it was carried out by someone with access to the Conservative party’s database, and the voters who received robocalls with inaccurate voting information were overwhelmingly either Liberal or NDP supporters.  Hmmm – I wonder who could have been behind this criminal act? And why aren’t Canadians marching in the streets over this corruption of our democracy?

More links:

Oil Sands Deals Lose Traction

Federal Judge Confirms Election Fraud in 2011 Vote

Why Aren’t Canadian Politicians Talking About What’s Real?

Here in Canada, we were plunged into a long-overdue (IMHO) election last week when the Harper Conservative government was found to be in Contempt of Parliament for not providing the elected Members of Parliament with the necessary information on the cost of the purchase of F-35 fighter jets as well as the cost of its proposed crime bills. The Harper government expected MPs to approve spending taxpayer’s money on these Conservative initiatives without having all the facts. It turns out this is against parliamentary law. The Harper Conservatives were also facing an election fraud scandal, and a second contempt motion because of International Cooperation Minister Bev Oda’s “misleading” statements to the House of Parliament about how the cancellation of funding to KAIROS, a Christian aid organization, came about.

What those findings should tell Canadians about our current Prime Minister and his minions MPs is that they flaunt the rules of our parliamentary institutions, fail to disclose the information necessary for our elected representatives to make informed decisions, and (per Minister Oda) play fast and loose with the truth.  They are not team players.  For the last three years, the Conservatives have been allowed to run a minority parliament as if they have a majority.  Less than 40 % of Canadians voted for the Harper Cons, and yet they have made decision after decision without consulting any of the other parties who represent the majority of Canadians.  Why the opposition parties have let them get away with it is another blog posting altogether.

In the meantime, Harper has tried to paint a possible coalition or alliance of Liberals/NDP/Bloc parties as a big scarey bogeyman. However, this strategy might be blowing up in his cold, unfeeling face, as both the NDP and the Bloc Quebecois have reminded Mr. Harper of his courting of them in 2004 to form a coalition as an alternative to Paul Martin’s minority government.

In the meantime, Murray Dobbin, over at The, asks the question that all Canadians should be asking “Why Can’t Politicians Talk About What is Real?”

In trying to anticipate what a federal election campaign will look like — and it seems increasingly likely that we will be unable to avoid one – it is striking that the biggest issues facing humankind are not even on the radar, yet alone being framed as planks in any party’s campaign platform.

This amounts to whistling past the graveyard with potentially fatal consequences. In our conventional political universe we are talking about jet fighters, corporate tax cuts, growing the economy and abolishing the Senate — and if we are lucky some mention of climate change, poverty and the dire financial straits of seniors.

But the other universe is virtually invisible despite the fact that it is very real and well known. That parallel road that no one in authority wants to acknowledge is one which is taking us over a cliff. That universe tells us that we are rapidly reaching the planet’s limits to growth, that we are well past the start of a global fresh water crisis, that we have already reached peak oil, that climate change will have ever-increasing planet-changing impacts and that rapidly rising food prices will lead to mass starvation in the developing world.

Mr. Dobbin concludes that there has been a successful effort by corporations and the political right to frame every political debate around the economy.  The question “is it good for the economy?” trumps any other consideration these days. As Dobbin points out:

Canadian bureaucrats at international meetings no longer refer to Canada and other nations as countries. They refer to them as “economies.” It is a fundamental change in language that has infected our governing institutions and helped justify the now constricted economic role of governments: they just need to get out of the way of business through deregulation, privatization and tax cuts.

Prime Minister Harper showed Canadians how true this is for him by his comment, leading up to the G8/G20 meetings last year, that the economy trumps everything, “all the rest is noise”.  Dobbin, and others, question this slavish devotion to the economy as if it is unconnected to anything else. Lord Nicholas Stern, former Chief Economist at the World Bank and author of a report on climate change and economics for the British government, recently stated that the current view that separates the economy and the environment is a basic analytical and intellectual mistake.”  Dobbin concludes that:

Until we reverse this heightened status of the economy as a separate entity, which can act with impunity against the interests of every other institution, including democracy, that parallel universe of the really critical issues we face will be almost impossible to engage. Climate change, environmental degradation, unfettered and unregulated growth, the obscene gap between rich and poor — these are all now the purview of “the economy.”

Until we take control of it, these issues will remain beyond our grasp to change.

Mr. Harper’s thinking on both the economy and coalition governments is fundamentally flawed.  For more of Harper’s record on climate change, check out Climate Action Network Canada’s summary. And check out this Lead Now video, a tribute to the time when Canadian politicians were willing to cooperate for the good of all Canadians:


Take Action:

Complete Lead Now’s Online Values Survey at

Support Elizabeth May’s right to participate in the leaders’ debate: Demand Democratic Debate

More links:

The Government of Canada’s record on climate change (2006 – present)

What Can’t Politicians Talk About What Is Real?

In Contempt of Parliament and the Harper Government

Parliamentary Law Bars Harper From Re-Election: Canadian PM Found Guilty of a Culture of Abuse of Parliament

This just in from on our fossil-fuel lovin’ Prime Minister, who said prior to oil sands development, Alberta’s pristine boreal forest was an “unuseable mass of dirty sand”:

On Friday March 25, 2011 the Canadian House of Commons found Prime Minister Stephen Harper guilty of contempt of Parliament. According to parliamentary law, contempt of parliament is a federal crime. Being that Harper has been found guilty of a crime Harper is barred from seeking re-election on May 2, 2011.   No federal government or cabinet minister has ever been found in contempt before.

The vote by the Canadian House of Commons is very much the same as an impeachment of the president of the United States of America. In the US if a president or US lawmaker is impeached (a formal process in which an official is accused of unlawful activity) that person is removed from office and cannot run for office again. Richard Nixon avoided a vote of impeachment by resigning as president. Harper was essentially impeached from the government of Canada for the federal crime of contempt of Parliament. As a direct result of the House of Commons vote the Harper government was dissolved.  As Stephen Harper was found guilty of unlawful activities he is no longer deemed fit to be the Prime Minister of Canada and an election was called to choose a new leader.

If Stephen Harper has been found guilty of the federal crime of contempt of Parliament why is he running again for the same office that he was removed from? Parliamentary law bars Harper from running again in the upcoming election. Under the Constitution Act, 1867, Parliament is empowered to determine the qualifications of members of the House of Commons. The present qualifications are outlined in the Canada Elections Act, which was passed in 2000. The acts bar individuals found guilty of election-related crimes and are prohibited from becoming members for five years (in some cases, seven years) after conviction. The House of Commons voted unanimously to judge Stephen Harper on election-related (parliament) crimes and declared Harper guilty of the charge of contempt of parliament. The House of Commons vote handed Harper a guilty conviction and as punishment for his crime his leadership was immediately stripped.

The prime minister of a minority government only holds his or her office as long as the “confidence of the house” is maintained. If members of the lower house lose faith in the leader for whatever reason, they can call a vote of no confidence and force the PM to resign. Such a vote of no confidence was made against Stephen Harper on Friday March 25, 2011. That vote not only declared that Stephen Harper no longer had the confidence of the house but the house also found Stephen Harper guilty of the serious offense of contempt of parliament. Contempt of Parliament is the crime of obstructing the parliament in the carrying out of its functions, or of hindering any Member of Parliament in the performance of his or her duties.

The highest duty of a Prime Minister of Parliament is to uphold the Constitution of Canada, which includes the rights and privileges of the House of Commons and the duties owed to the Queen’s representative in Canada. Stephen Harper keeps on failing in his duties on both counts as evidenced by 2 consecutive prorogation of Parliament. Stephen Harper forced the Queen’s representative to dissolve Parliament just so the Conservatives could avoid losing a vote of confidence in the House of Commons.

The first undemocratic shut down of Parliament by Stephen Harper was clearly to avoid the scrutiny of a House of Commons committee over the mounting evidence of willful complicity by the Harper government over the transfer of Afghan detainees to a substantial risk of torture. This is a war crime and one of the most serious allegations any government has faced in the history of Canada. Stephen Harper did everything possible to hide from a vote of confidence, and on Dec. 4, 2008 Stephen Harper unilaterally shut down Parliament. The Governor General had little option but to grant the undemocratic request to avoid a political crisis in Canada. It had put her into an untenable position.

There was no precedent in any parliamentary democracy anywhere in the world where a democratic parliament was shut down to hide from a vote of confidence. It opened the door for other abuses of the rights and privileges of the majority of Members of Parliament elected by Canadians. Harper has gone through that door again. This time the Governor General did not even merit a personal visit by Stephen Harper to be told to shut down Parliament until early March. Respect, even for the Queen’s representative, by Stephen Harper is in short supply.

This undemocratic criminal behavior by Stephen Harper is another piece of evidence of a major shift in Canadian constitutional democracy taking shape. First, there was the unconstitutional behavior of the Harper government to deny the committee uncensored documents despite a subpoena by the House of Commons. Secondly, there was the Harper-ordered boycott of the committee by the Conservative MPs at the committee. Thirdly, we saw the forced adjournment of the Military Police Complaints Commission inquiry of the Stephen Harper’s complicity in torture and the Stephen Harper firing of its chief investigator, Peter Tinsley. This commission, a quasi-judicial tribunal has been stymied in its attempt to determine the truth over the detainee transfer issue.  Finally, there was the unprecedented attempts by Stephen Harper to slander Richard Colvin, a senior Canadian diplomat who was a key witness in the Canadian Afghan detainee issue, for just doing his job of speaking truth to power and then accusing anybody who supports him of either being Taliban dupes or undermining our brave Canadian military heroes.

These are serious examples of abuse of executive power over Parliament, the Governor General, the public service and ultimately the Canadian voters who elected MPs to make Parliament work. There is only one person who is responsible for and has been found guilty of such abuse of power, for such disdain towards the authority of the people’s parliament, for such disrespect towards the Canadian people and for total disregard for the rule of law. His name is Stephen Harper.


More links:


Copenhagen Spoof Shames Canada; Climate Debt No Joke