Monday, November 02, 2015
Why We Need A Public Inquiry Into the Activities of the Harper Regime
For years Stephen Harper and his brutish Con regime politicized every government department to a degree never seen before.
They turned every department into cogs and wheels of their massive propaganda machine.
They muzzled those who disagreed with them, and turned others into their willing collaborators.
And now we find out that some of the top bureaucrats waited until a few months ago to discuss what to do about the problem.
As a new Liberal government takes the reins this week, Canada's top bureaucrats are looking for ways to purge partisan politics from the shell-shocked public service.
The highest echelon of the bureaucracy met in the spring, before the election was called, to discuss ways to insulate public servants from intense pressure to be "promiscuously partisan" instead of neutral in carrying out the government's agenda.
Which in itself couldn't be more outrageous, when none of them did anything about it for so many years. And they should all be asked to explain why they waited so long, and if necessary disciplined.
But even more importantly we need to go after those who gave them their orders, by holding a full public inquiry into the nefarious activities of the Harper regime.
For as I have mentioned before, we absolutely must find out whether the Cons turned departments like the Canada Revenue Agency into a blunt weapon to go after and try to intimidate their political enemies.
We must know why for example they targeted a bird watcher's club for the "crime" of complaining to Con ministers about government approved chemicals that were destroying bee colonies.
A small group of nature lovers in southern Ontario enjoy spending weekends watching birds and other wildlife, but lately they're the ones under watch — by the Canada Revenue Agency.
The stern missive says the group must take appropriate action as necessary "including refraining from undertaking any partisan activities," with the ominous warning that "this letter does not preclude any future audits."
And why they and other groups even mildly critical of government policies were threatened or subjected to audits, while other highly political right-wing groups were not.
A special squad of 15 auditors has so far targeted some 52 charities, many of them critical of Conservative government policies. Environment groups were hard hit in the first round in 2012-13, but the net has since widened to snare social justice and poverty groups, among others.
We need to know why ministers like Pierre Poilievre used government employees to make his ghastly propaganda videos...
Or why the Cons used our tax dollars to put out this kind of propaganda masquerading as a government announcement.
And why every government service included ads like these at the bottom of the Environment Canada weather page.
Or why the government of Canada was rebranded as the Harper government.
Ralph Heintzman, a research professor at the University of Ottawa, has cited the example of a communications directive requiring bureaucrats to refer to the "Harper government" in news releases, rather than the government of Canada.
Other examples include a request last year that departments send retweets promoting a family-tax measure not yet passed by Parliament, including a hashtag with the Conservative slogan #StrongFamilies, and public servants working overtime to create promotional videos about child benefits, spots that prominently featured Pierre Poilievre, the employment minister.
Who ordered those things, and can we see the e-mails please?
But even more importantly we need to find out whether the same creeping politicization was also used to turn the RCMP, other security agencies, and the Canadian Forces into Harper's Police or Harper's Army.
For if that is the case, and I personally don't doubt it, we were well on our way to becoming a police state...
I realize that many Canadians just want to move on out of the darkness and into the light, and I certainly don't blame them.
But until we find out what exactly the Cons have been up to, we cannot leave the past behind, for what happened was an outrageous assault on our democracy. And we need to expose the guilty and restore faith in our government. So it never happens again.
Maybe a public inquiry would be too divisive, maybe what we need is a massive unhindered Access to Information project.
But one way or the other let's pull back the curtain of secrecy, shine a light into the dark and grubby corners of the Con regime.
Expose those who gave the orders, embarrass those who collaborated with them.
And at the very least, make sure that the man responsible for that corruption.
Does not escape the harsh verdict of history...
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