Monthly Archives: November 2015

Dear Conservatives: Your election loss was never about style.

Here’s a little free advice for the Conservative Party of  Canada.

Stop blaming your election loss on Harper’s style. Canadians didn’t send so many of you packing over questions of style.

It was your policy. YOUR policy.

Harper tried to get bitumen pipelines built through BC, Quebec, and the U.S. and you sat there and watched him –HELPED him even. It wasn’t his style that offended people; it was the pipelines. And he knew it. That’s why he stacked the National Energy Board with people invested in the oil industry. And you let him –HELPED him even. That’s why a bunch of your people created a fake advocacy group called Ethical Oil. That’s why Harper tried to suppress scientists, the huge majority of whom are very concerned about the increase in greenhouse gases caused by (among other things) bitumen oil. And you let him –HELPED him even.

The “style” was the desperate tactics of a desperate ideologue. But don’t for a minute get the impression that Canadians are so vacuous as to think  it was all about style.

And there’s more. The F-35 program was WAY over budget. Ridiculously so. When Harper won his majority, the damn things couldn’t even fly yet, and we’d spent kazillions on them. Australia gave up on the project. Even Obama was talking about giving up on it. Then an auditor found that your government had lied about the costs. Another desperate strategy of a desperate ideologue. But Canadians saw right through that.

In BC your government shut down the busiest Coast Guard station in Canada. Then a boat had its hull punctured and gushed 2700 litres of bunker fuel into the inlet. Granted, the temerity it takes to say that one is “enormously pleased” with a response that took nine hours before a boom was set up says something about style. But it was the nine hours that had people fuming, not so much the style, while a boat that previously would have been able to respond to the situation in 6 minutes sat in dry dock instead of at the Coast Guard station.

It was the FACT that your government re-purposed the Museum of Civilization. It was the FACT that you changed the Elections Act. It was the FACT that you brought in mandatory minimum sentences against the advice of the justice system itself. It was the FACT that you tried to appoint an ineligible Judge to the Supreme Court (Okay, that was Harper. But then you all went on the attack against Justice McLachlin), the FACT that you created the Anti-Terrorism act, the FACT that you created anti-union legislation, the FACT that you killed our ability to keep track of our nation by killing the long-form census, the FACT that you took us into combat in Afghanistan and then in Iraq and Syria, the FACT that you took health care and pensions away from our veterans, the FACT that you tried to sneak us into the Trans Pacific Partnership, the FACT that you provided income splitting and other tax benefits to those who don’t need it while doing nothing for those who do.

It’s the FACT that you ran enormous deficits while shrinking public infrastructure. It’s the FACT that you changed the Elections Act in such a way that it would benefit you. It’s the FACT that you refused to acknowledge or comment at all on the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, or to indicate any kind of concern for hundreds of murdered and missing women.

You need to get it. You need to own it. We might have been able to forgive your style. Hell I admire the Ex Prime Minister’s piano ability, and I’ve already forgiven Trudeau for wearing brown shoes with a grey suit the day he announced the new cabinet.

It was never Harper’s style. It was your policy. YOUR policy, as in… the policy that came from YOU.

Please don’t think that “badass” is a good qualification for a cabinet minister.

An opinion piece by Stephen Marsh (, discusses the cool factor of Canada under a Trudeau government. The article is humorous –a little tongue-in-cheek to be sure, and not objectionable, really. But aspects of it pushed a button with me.

The article ascribes to our new defense minister, Harjit Sajjan, a tough-guy credential, preferring this (perhaps playfully) to “running think tanks, or teaching at universities” –as if killing Taliban fighters is somehow a better qualification for a Cabinet Minister than being an intellectual. The article compares Sajjan to movie action hero, Jack Reacher.

Notwithstanding the overall message of the article, it brushes against a theme that doesn’t sit right with me. I’m tired of the diss of intellectualism. Just who the hell is Jack Reacher, and why the hell would we want someone like him in our government?

Killing Taliban (or killing anyone) is not something that should impress. Rather, it’s something that should depress. In the world today, there are far too many people killing each other. The dichotomy of “us” and “them” is far to entrenched. Whatever has necessitated our young people to range themselves as infantry against other young people in deadly conflict is a tragedy.

I don’t have a problem with the appointment of Sajjan. For all I know, he is eminently qualified to be Minister of Defense. Certainly his experience in the military can be an asset to the job.

But when I pin the poppy to my lapel, an association of the word “badassery” with the proud military history (of which my grandfathers and grandmothers were a part) feels like so much blasphemy. The word diminishes them in some way: men and women who preached and lived gentleness and who thought “intellectual” to be a great compliment –men and women who survived a terrible, terrible war, and who fervently wished that their children’s children never experience war again. Men and women who told me that the “bigger man” was the one who walks away from a fight.

“Cute” is the right word to contextualize this article. I get the joke, but I have a real fear that among Canadians there is a large element of macho-shithead-ery that would prefer badassery to a sober, nuanced, intellectual approach to a very serious portfolio.