Conservatives like small government, eh? Not so fast.
The Harper government stands for nothing of the sort. It’s big government, it’s coercive government, and is now rapidly veering into totalitarian territory. Welcome to the opening phases of what could become a full-blown Canadian corporate state.
Murray Dobbin, bless him, beat me to it, but repetition on this score can never hurt. Briefly, the Harperium has now taken to grossly misusing the state apparatus to spy upon and intimidate citizens who dare to disagree with the Prime Minister. The RCMP and CSIS have been improperly deployed against perfectly non-violent folks who happen to oppose the development of the filthy, polluting Alberta Tar Sands—including a story-telling seniors’ group.
The cop-and-spook brigade have, as it turns out, been meeting in cabal with oil company execs, the Department of National Defence and National Energy Board honchos: the last meeting was sponsored by energy heavies Enbridge, Brookfield, and Bruce Power. (Meanwhile, our ultra-secret spy agency, CSEC, has been busy keeping tabs on ordinary folks in airports, perhaps just because they can. They, too, have been attending these top-level meetings.)
Now the Canadian Revenue Agency has jumped into it, with time-consuming audits of leading environmental groups for allegedly being too political. And it doesn’t stop there: the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, a respected progressive think-tank, is now a target of Harper’s revenue bully-boys as well. But, somehow, the openly political (and foreign-funded) Fraser Institute escapes CRA scrutiny, as does the Manning Foundation.
To say that it’s improper for the government to place its agencies at the disposal of Big Oil is to state the obvious. It would seem that many of these audits were conducted after complaints from a pro-Tar Sands astroturf organization called Ethical Oil, whose funding sources are kept secret, but are suspected to include major oil and gas corporations. To close the loop, the founder of Ethical Oil was one Alykhan Velshi—now a senior official in the Prime Minister’s Office.
The Harper regime is now doubling down. In response to a question on the anything-but-random audits, Minister of Finance Jim Flaherty attempted to connect these organizations to international terrorism. And the new budget contains monies to be used to counter this alleged threat to national security.
It’s not hard to connect the dots here. The audits are a deliberate form of harassment. Much of this can be traced back to Environment Minister Joe Oliver’s outlandish claim that environmentalism is a plot by foreign radicals to destabilize Canada. And we now know that Harper will pass legislation on request: all Big Oil need do is send a nice letter.
This is, to put it bluntly, exactly how corporatist regimes operate. Coercive state apparatuses are used to squelch dissent. Political opponents are demonized as traitors, amid grave talk of foreign influences and terrorism. And business and government operate as one to get the job done.
Add to this significant electoral fraud in 2011, a vote-rigging bill ludicrously entitled the “Fair Elections Act,” a new version of citizenship that gives a Minister the power to weed out undesirables, garish and costly militaristic displays, Parliament reduced to a shell by the use of omnibus bills and time allocation…well, you get the picture. Perhaps it is time to dust off that other f-word, because the water in this pot, fellow froggies, seems to be getting a mite warm.