1) Although the Harper Conservatives campaigned on Transparency, the Speaker of the House of Commons had to rule three times that “the Harper government” appeared to breach parliamentary privilege. For the first time in Canadian history, the government was found in contempt of Parliament.
2) The Information Commissioner said “the Harper government” was the least transparent when it came to Access to Information requests. The government even eliminated a key Access data base. One way the Conservatives avoided making information public was the excuse of “cabinet confidentiality.”
3) Another Conservative promise: Accountability. But Harper shut down Parliament twice, once to avoid revelations of Afghan detainee torture. An atmosphere of “trench warfare” developed because the government often refused to co-operate with parliamentary committees. Conservative MPs even had a secret handbook on how to obstruct them.
4) Harper’s office intimidated public servants and wrote MPs’ media releases, statements, and questions – often laced with personal attacks – for the House of Commons. There was no spontaneous, unscripted debate. Conservative MPs, who should be speaking for their constituents, were provided with “talking points” on issues, so they didn’t deviate from the party line. They appeared to be “pawns” of the leader.
5) In 1993, Mulroney’s Conservatives chalked up a $38 Billion deficit. By 2006, Chretien’s Liberals turned this into a $16 Billion surplus. Four years later, Harper created a record $56 Billion deficit.
6) When Harper was president of the National Citizens Coalition, founded in 1967 to oppose Medicare, he supported US-style bank deregulation. Nevertheless, since the 2008 Financial Crisis, he has been taking credit for the relative strength of our financial sector, based on a system he inherited, but didn’t support.
7) Canada’s Economic Action Plan infrastructure stimulus program had a single focus: jobs. A majority of those surveyed by the Parliamentary Budget Office run by Kevin Page reported the program had either a neutral or negative impact on jobs. Even Harper’s business allies and the conservative Fraser Institute have criticized it. Overall, the stimulus program has been plagued by “flawed accountability,” according to another assessment – and created more part-time than full-time jobs.
8) Jim Stanford, The Globe, March 30 “ … the claim that things may be tough here, but they’re better than anywhere else, has never been statistically valid. And it’s getting increasingly inaccurate, the more it is regurgitated on the hustings. Among the more than 30 industrial countries that make up the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, Canada’s performance has been middling at best. In real GDP growth, Canada tied for 10th in 2009, falling to 13th in 2010. As for the unemployment rate, Canada ranked a gloomy 21st in 2009, tying for 18th by 2010 … “
9) The Harper Conservatives’ HST is moving the tax burden to consumers, increasing the price of essentials like food and heat. They are also pushing for more corporate tax cuts when: “An analysis of Statistics Canada figures by The Globe and Mail reveals that the rate of investment in machinery and equipment has declined in lockstep with falling corporate tax rates over the past decade. At the same time, the analysis shows, businesses have added $83-billion to their cash reserves since the onset of the recession in 2008.”
10) According to a recent CCPA report, the top one per cent of Canadians are “increasing their share of income at an historic pace, with wealth concentrated in a way that hasn’t been seen since the 1920s.” Canadian families are indebted at a rate of about 146% of annual income.
11) Harper thinks Medicare should be provincial and wants to break it up. While heading the National Citizens Coalition, Harper said “the feds” should scrap the Canada Health Act. He doesn’t dare repeat that now, but he rules as though the law guaranteeing Canadians universality, portability, accessibility doesn’t exist.
12) Although seniors’ incomes have dropped for the first time in decades, it is clear the Harper government was laying the groundwork to replace Canada’s well-run, cost-effective, and stable CPP with a private, more expensive pension scheme – the Pooled Registered Pension Plan (PRPP), run by banks, mutual fund, and insurance industries. (Weren’t they behind the Financial Crisis?)
13) The Harper Conservatives plan to buy 65 “problem-plagued,” as-yet-untested F-35 stealth fighters through an untendered contract they say costs $9 Billion – plus $7 Billion more in maintenance costs. In March, Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page warned Canadians that the Harper government was low-balling the cost by more than $12 Billion. US experts say the cost will be even higher than that!
14) Crime rates are down and the population is aging, but the Harper Conservatives claim they have to introduce tougher laws, incarcerate more Canadians, and spend Billions to expand prisons because of an increase in “unreported” crime. According to the Correctional Service of Canada, the federal prison population will increase by 30 per cent in coming years – a direction which failed in the US.
15) Six prison farms – possibly Canada’s most effective rehabilitation programs where inmates produced food for themselves and other prisons – have been closed in spite of support by a majority of Canadians. Observers say the Conservatives’ punitive attitude is turning Corrections Canada into Punishment Canada, resulting in warehoused inmates being “hardened” not “healed.”
16) “During the Chrétien government years, I reported extensively on malfeasance by the Liberals. To do the math on the Harper government is to conclude that, while it has no sponsorship scandal on its books, it’s already surpassed its predecessor on a range of other abuse-of-power indices. The government’s arc of duplicity is remarkable to behold.” Lawrence Martin, The Globe and Mail
17) Two Conservative Senators – Doug Finley, the 2006 and 2008 campaign manager, and Irving Gerstein, a major party fundraiser – and two former senior party officials, all very close to Harper, were charged by Elections Canada for allegedly wilfully violating the $18.3 million spending limit by claiming national advertising expenses as local expenses in 67 ridings.
18) International Co-operation Minister Bev Oda finally admitted she reversed – falsified – a document, which favoured funding for a well-respected development group, after it had been signed by two public servants. Earlier she lied about doing so, saying she didn’t know who did it.
19) Former long-time, top Harper “fixer” Bruce Carson is being investigated by the RCMP, as well as the ethics and lobbying commissioners, after allegations of unregistered lobbying in relation to meetings with officials at Indian and Northern Affairs Canada and two senior staff members from Minister John Duncan’s office. Harper denies knowing of Carson’s criminal past.
20) The Harper Conservatives earned a reputation for heavy-handed stonewalling during climate change negotiations in Copenhagen. In Cancun, they lobbied against an extension of the Kyoto Accord, which they had already ignored, and Canada was given the negative Fossil of the Year award for the fourth consecutive year by 500 international organization.
21) In 2008, the oil industry received $1.4 Billion in federal subsidies with $851 million of that going to the Alberta tar sands. The Harper government considered tar sands oil “ethical” – in spite of resulting CO2 emissions (100,000 tonnes daily), forest clearances the size of Florida, Athabaska River pollution, and high rates of cancer among nearby native communities.
22) Harper wanted us to join the US in its disastrous invasion of Iraq. It will be more difficult to say “no” in the future. He has been negotiating a secretive “perimeter security” agreement with the United States, creating what has been called a “big vision of North America as an economic, environmental, and security unit.”
There are many more reasons to vote strategically on May 2!
Authorized by the Catch 22 Campaign … www.catch22campaign.ca