Harper’s hit list, Voices-Voix says Conservatives dismantling democracy

Former Justice Department lawyer and whistleblower Edgar Schmidt is suing his old employer.
Former Justice Department lawyer and whistleblower Edgar Schmidt is suing his old employer.

In March 2011 I posted an article to my Pulpit and Politics blog called Harper’s Hit List. The piece contained a list of organizations whose staff had either been fired, forced out, publicly maligned, or who had resigned in protest.  I did not do the original research but rather published what others had already assembled. That piece received thousands of hits and is by far the most popular item that I have ever posted. Clearly a raw public nerve had been touched, and that was while Stephen Harper was still leading a minority government.

Harassed and bullied

The coalition Voices-Voix has done a systematic job of documenting how organizations and individuals have been harassed and bullied by the Conservative regime, and has published an updated hit list.  It contains more than 110 case studies which the organization says, “’connect the dots,’ showing a pattern of actions by the federal government to silence critics, stifle debate, diminish knowledge, and dodge accountability.”

I will deal briefly here with just two of those cases but Voices has provided many others. Edgar Schmidt and Cindy Blackstock have both blown whistles on the Canadian government and received harsh treatment for daring to do so. Continue reading Harper’s hit list, Voices-Voix says Conservatives dismantling democracy

Syrian refugee crisis, what you can do to help

Syrian Refugees at Budapest's Keleti railway station. Photo by Mstyslav ChernovWikimedia Commons
Syrian Refugees at Budapest’s Keleti railway station. Photo by Mstyslav ChernovWikimedia Commons

The Syrian refugee crisis has inserted itself into the hearts and minds of Canadians — those aghast at watching bedraggled people streaming into Europe, carrying their children and everything they own on their backs. And they are the survivors. Thousands of others have died at sea when their overburdened boats capsized. Continue reading Syrian refugee crisis, what you can do to help

Years of scapegoating refugees haunts Harper Conservatives

Syrian refugees entering Turkey, UNHCR/I.Prickett
Syrian refugees entering Turkey, UNHCR/I.Prickett

Stephen Harper and the Conservatives have spent years scapegoating refugees and it is coming back to haunt them in the 2015 election campaign. The Conservatives’ messaging has been derailed by the sight of hundreds of thousands of refugees streaming into Europe, and by the images of the lifeless body of three-year-old Alan Kurdi being carried from a beach in Turkey. There is a widespread call within Canada for action. Continue reading Years of scapegoating refugees haunts Harper Conservatives

Gingrich Woodcraft owner quotes scripture in punishing workers who unionized

Leon Gingrich closes furniture plant (Vimeo/Woodworking Network)
Leon Gingrich closes furniture plant (Vimeo)

The owner of a furniture manufacturing plant near Fort Frances, Ontario is quoting scripture to justify locking out his employees and then shuttering his business after 69 per cent of his 25 workers voted to join a union. Leon Gingrich, who is described in a CBC story as a Mennonite, does not appear to be talking to reporters but the company has posted a notice in a local newspaper. It says in part: “as  Christian business owners, our personal beliefs will not allow our conscience the freedom to work with a labour union, as we are required by scripture to ‘live peaceably with all men’ and not to use force to gain what we want or for what is required to succeed.”

Let’s look into this a bit farther but before we do let me say that I have belonged to unions in half a dozen workplaces – everything from construction and meat packing when I was a student to at least three unions during my career as a journalist. I also worked several years for the Canadian Labour Congress. Continue reading Gingrich Woodcraft owner quotes scripture in punishing workers who unionized

Election 2015: Faith groups have lots of questions for candidates

Peace Tower Clock on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. Photo by Creative Commons
Peace Tower Clock on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. Photo by Creative Commons

Early in August, Prime Minister Stephen Harper set in motion a 78-day election campaign, the longest since 1872 when candidates traveled on steam-driven trains and horse-drawn buggies. Despite the early call, a number of faith-based groups have already published election kits. For example, the Canadian Council of Churches (CCC) has prepared a 15-page summary of issues, which includes questions that people can ask of political candidates. The kit also contains information on how to organize and conduct all candidates’ meetings, and a guide for writing letters to the editor and using social media to talk about the issues. Continue reading Election 2015: Faith groups have lots of questions for candidates

Election 2015: “Lying piece of shit” episode inevitable

Spoof on man who accosted reporters at Conservative campaign event, Internet image
Spoof on man who accosted reporters at CPC campaign event, Internet image

During the federal election campaign in the autumn of 1965, dozens of students at my boarding school in rural Saskatchewan traveled in a big cattle truck to hear Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson speak in the Humboldt arena. The building was packed and Pearson gave a fulsome speech which was heard by anyone who showed up. Perhaps those were more innocent times. Or perhaps Pearson cared more about a vigorous democracy than some who have inhabited the office since then. Continue reading Election 2015: “Lying piece of shit” episode inevitable

Justin Trudeau, from the heart outwards: his Conservative critics howl

Justin Trudeau, from the heart outwards, photo Liberal.ca
Justin Trudeau, from the heart outwards, photo Liberal.ca

The Harperites and their fellow travellers in the Conservative universe have been scathing in their criticism of Justin Trudeau for saying recently that he wants to grow the economy “from the heart outwards.” After the Liberal leader made his comments during a stop at a Regina farmers’ market, the Conservative war room rushed out a news release to reinforce the party’s television attack about Trudeau not being ready. “Justin is an inexperienced politician who isn’t capable of managing Canada’s $1.9 trillion dollar economy,” the release said. This is rich coming from a gang that has run eight consecutive deficits and presided over the hollowing out of Canada’s manufacturing and energy sectors, as well as the replacement of full time jobs with precarious work. Continue reading Justin Trudeau, from the heart outwards: his Conservative critics howl

Paltry returns: Public spending on sports palaces is bad economics

Amphithéâtre de Québec, June 2014, Creative Commons photo
Amphithéâtre de Québec, June 2014, Creative Commons photo

The National Hockey League’s Ottawa Senators want to abandon the club’s 20-year-old arena in the suburb of Kanata and rebuild near the city’s downtown. Although the team says that fans don’t want to travel to the edge of town to watch their team, the arena actually draws an average of 96 percent of its capacity for home games. Continue reading Paltry returns: Public spending on sports palaces is bad economics