Age of hostility

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It’s not the same old neighbourhood anymore. Change may seem imperceptible at times, but at some point you notice the trees have either grown or disappeared. The nice family next door has long gone and the fence is grey and rotting.

That’s how Joe Clark sees Canada today. As do Allan Gregg and Andrew Coyne.

A growing number of seasoned politicians and pundits have described in depth lately how Canada under Stephen Harper has become a strange and hostile place.

This is not the usual vitriol from partisans and left-wing zealots. They are thoughtful, reasoned observations. And they paint an alarming portrait of how this country has lost so much of its treasured prestige.

Gregg, a well-known researcher and television pundit, turned heads in the fall of 2012 with a blistering speech that chronicled the growing assault on evidence-based knowledge under Harper’s leadership. He reprised the theme in a speech to Alberta union members this past April.

What’s so astounding about Gregg’s revelations is not so much the rich trove of examples for his thesis — everything from spiking the mandatory long-form census forms to muffling environmental science — but the realization the Conservatives are deliberately trying to hide their agenda.

How do we know? For starters, from the naming of legislation. Here’s Gregg’s litany:

Bill C-10 — An Act to Enact the Justice for Victims of Terrorism — is actually an omnibus bill which, among other things, stiffens penalties for possession of pot and builds more prisons.

Bill C-5, The Continuing Air Service for Passengers Act, is really just a bill to legislate a no-strike contract for airline workers.

A bill to “protect children” would actually have opened your computers to government snoops, and a bill boasting “market freedom” simply killed the Canada Wheat Board.

“By obfuscating the true purpose of laws under the gobbledy-gook of double speak, governments are admitting that their intentions probably lack both support and respect,” Gregg said. “Again, the lesson here is Orwellian … in the same way that reason requires consciousness, tyranny demands ignorance.”

Joe Clark, meanwhile, is promoting his new book “How to Lead” — something, evidently, he feels Harper has yet to learn.

Clark’s main lament: Canada has cashed in its worldwide reputation for exercising “soft power” in peacekeeping and mediation for a more belligerent image. And Clark should know, having served in Foreign Affairs.

“The government’s movement away from Canada’s soft power assets has grown more pronounced with each year in office,” he told The Toronto Star.

As for Andrew Coyne, his column in Thursday’s National Post says it all. The prime minister’s comical contortions over the current Senate scandal, he says, seem to signal a coup de grace to traditional expectations of culpability and honesty.

“There does not seem to be much that does bind the government: not convention, not its own promises, not even basic facts,” he writes.

Indeed, we are waking up to a very unfamiliar neighbourhood. And a very unfriendly one at that.

Organizations: Alberta union, Conservatives, Justice for Victims The Continuing Air Service Canada Wheat Board Foreign Affairs National Post

Geographic location: Canada

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Recent comments

  • wildgoose
    November 02, 2013 - 15:13

    Excellent .article. Precisely what most thinking Canadians have known about this sociopath Harper from the very beginning. It will take decades to undo the harm he has done to Canada.

    • Frank
      November 02, 2013 - 17:49

      Sociopath? Wow, you must be an NDPer

  • Mr. Squeaker
    November 01, 2013 - 11:57

    You will soon wake up in a country truly dominated by Chinese capital. Reading about Chinese dissent controls and rural displacement makes it glaringly obvious that while the Chinese regime courtsvmodern democracy for its natural resources, so they can live like we do, freedom, bluejeans, television, Jesus, D&G,etc,. Yet, in order to be globally profitable, we must conform to a communist-style government that must combat the lack of ignorance in our "peasant population" with revolving policy mind games and grassroots suppression and media domination and fear mongering and intellectual hazing and scientific bullying. If you are content scapegoat the likes of Harper, and Dunderdale, then you have taken the bait as offered, confusing bad actors for terrible politicians. What credentials do these two have, besides being pliable for multinationals?

  • Wild Rose
    November 01, 2013 - 08:27

    Under Stephen Harper were becoming a more stronger nation where a man can stand up for himself. Its getting tough on terrorists and the unions and making us more prosperous wth lower taxes and give aways. This is the kind of postive attitude I seen in Alberta and when I was in Texas. Our army is getting more weapons and were respected with the USA.

    • Will Cole
      November 02, 2013 - 10:36

      What rambling nonsense.

    • Tony Rockel
      November 04, 2013 - 00:35

      Another brilliant display of spelling and logic from the towering intellect of our one and only (thanks be to God) Wild Rose.

  • Rick Barnes
    November 01, 2013 - 07:28

    This editorial describes the Canada I sadly see and feel. As a Canadian it is demoralizing. We need a big change. A change that is more than just a new government.