Good-bye to all that (and more)

Michael
Michael Johansen
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With a new Parliamentary session fast approaching and our weak-kneed opposition likely to pass any budget the minority Reformed Conservative government foists on the House of Commons, it's time for Canadians to brace for the worst.
Despite the prime minister's obvious lie that he had to close Parliament so he could 'recalibrate' his government's agenda (instead of admitting he just doesn't have the courage to face criticism from the majority opposition), some Ottawa watchers are predicting he'll be delivering a "status quo" budget. That means no new taxes and no drastic cuts.
This, however, would be completely out of character for Stephen Harper. Given any kind of alternative, he invariably opts for the one that makes the least common sense and causes the most problems not just for the country but for himself as well. He just can't help himself.
Witness his coalition crisis: he could have worked with the opposition parties, but he attacked them instead. Witness his reaction to allegations that Canada (while under Liberal rule) handed Afghan prisoners over to torturers: instead of opening up the investigation to arrive at the truth, he stifles it and shuts it down. Witness the long list of Canadians stranded abroad, caught by dubious trumped-up terrorism charges: Instead of doing all he can to bring them home where their rights will be respected, he abandons them to abuse and injustice. Witness climate change: instead of trying to avoid a possible world-wide calamity, he digs his heals into the tarsands to resist even doing the bare minimum to reduce Canada's greenhouse gas emissions.
So it will probably be with the new budget. Despite being in a position of weakness (with plummeting public support and as far away from his coveted majority government as he's ever been) he probably imagines himself to be as strong as ever. By virtue of his government's proven ability to come up with any number of misleading and dishonest attack ads at a moment's notice, he feels unassailable in his propaganda-built tower of power.
So, given Harper's misperceptions and his poor decision-making track record, Canadians should expect the opposite of a status quo budget. Harper will probably never get his majority, but that likely won't stop him from acting like he's already got one and bringing in a right-wing majority budget.
So, say good-bye to the CBC. The public broadcaster barely survived the last round of cuts (a round that came after years and years of damaging bloodletting) and there's little chance it will live past another. Since the CBC steadfastly refuses to be a government mouthpiece, it has no place in Harper's vision of Canada.
Say good-bye to VIA. Cutting what's left of the public passenger rail service would serve two Reformed Conservative goals: it would eliminate an ideological threat (public services are socialist-inspired) and, by forcing more traffic onto Canada's overburdened highways, it would bolster oil company profits.
Good-bye, of course, to the Canada Council and all other arts funding. Artists, musicians and writers serve no purpose in Harper's world unless they're willing to write and illustrate pro-Conservative and anti-opposition television ads.
Good-bye, too, to sports funding. The government only wants to own the podium in Vancouver. The next Olympics don't matter - nor does the general health of Canadian athletic endeavours, apparently.
Good-bye to discretionary military funding. Saying they support the armed forces (over and over again) is enough for the Conservatives. They don't actually have to maintain them and keep their equipment running. By the time the ships and aircraft begin to break down and have to be dumped on the scrap heap, Harper will probably be retired (unless he decrees himself to become prime-minister-for-life).
And good-bye to public service pensions. By impoverishing retired civil servants, Harper can pretend the government is exercising its own fiscal responsibility and he'll still be able to collect his own $150,000-per-year old age pension.

Michael Johansen has gone into travel mode. For the next few months, he'll be writing from everywhere between Labrador and Vancouver Island.

Organizations: House of Commons, CBC, Canada Council Conservatives

Geographic location: Canada, Ottawa, Vancouver Island Labrador

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  • Polly
    July 02, 2010 - 13:34

    The CBC was a unifying force in this great country of ours , right from its inception . The CBC doesn't have any hidden agendas , it represents a wide variety of views . There is an old saying , that a conservative government means hard times.

  • Polly
    July 02, 2010 - 13:20

    Michael , when you get to the top of the Malahat on Vancouver Island take a good long look , it will last you for a lifetime .

  • Polly
    July 01, 2010 - 20:24

    The CBC was a unifying force in this great country of ours , right from its inception . The CBC doesn't have any hidden agendas , it represents a wide variety of views . There is an old saying , that a conservative government means hard times.

  • Polly
    July 01, 2010 - 20:03

    Michael , when you get to the top of the Malahat on Vancouver Island take a good long look , it will last you for a lifetime .