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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Where does it end?

Marc Garneau is a true Canadian hero and because of that, we have named schools after him. For those of you who don't know who he is I will give you a brief summary of the important things he has done, then move on to my point for this blog.

Garneua is:

-a Canadian politician, retired military officer, former astronaut, and engineer. 

-He is currently the Member of Parliament for the riding of Westmount—Ville-Marie.

-In 1974, Garneau began his career in the Royal Canadian Navy as a Navy combat systems engineer on HMCS Algonquin. He was promoted to Commander in 1982 while at Staff College and was transferred to Ottawa in 1983. In January 1986, he was promoted to Naval Captain and retired from the Navy in 1989

-Garneau was one of the first Canadian Astronauts and he became the first Canadian in outer space in October 1984.

-In 1984, he was seconded to the new Canadian Astronaut Program (CAP), one of six chosen from over 4,000 applicants. He flew on the shuttle Challenger, STS-41-G from October 5 to 13, 1984, as payload specialist. 

-He was promoted to Captain in 1986, and left the Navy in 1989, to become deputy director of the CAP. In 1992-93, he underwent further training to become a mission specialist. 

(That was all directly lifted from Wikipedia,  with some editing)

Canadians are proud of Marc Garneau, and for good reason. He has done nothing but make us proud his entire life. I'm sure he isn't perfect, because none of us are, but there is no reason to attack him. Nor is there any reason to exclude him from an event for which he richly deserved to be included.

Liberal MP Marc Garneau, who was Canada's first astronaut and led the Canadian Space Agency, is "ticked off" that he wasn't invited to Thursday's opening of a Canadarm exhibit and he blames Conservative partisanship for being left off the guest list.
"I'm not very happy," Garneau told reporters on Parliament Hill. "I wasn't looking for a role, I just wanted to be there in the audience...
Garneau said being left off the guest list shows how partisan Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government is and that these kinds of events shouldn't be treated as political. Liberal MP Mauril Belanger, who represents the riding where the museum is located, wasn't invited either but attended the event once he heard about it through other channels.
Belanger told reporters he felt Garneau should have been there."

Why was Marc Garneau excluded from this event? The only answer anyone could come up with was that he was a Liberal member of Parliament, and the ruling party, which is Conservative and run by a bully of a prime minister, decided that they didn't want him there, for only those reasons. That is not surprising to any Canadians. Simply and bluntly put, if you are not on Stephen Harper's team, which means doing what he says when he says it, then you are to be bullied and excluded and cut down by any means.

And if you are daring enough to speak about it, even if you are civil about it, then the result is that you are attacked in a petty and childish way. This case was no different. Typical of the Harper regime and the people who are his underlings, the first mode of defense is offense. Instead of just admitting you did it, go ahead and attack on some other ground which is highly irrelevant and try to divert attention from your own bad acts. When the water then gets deep enough, you have only one alternative-to admit you were way out of line. Harper, being the king bully, will never do that. But even his foot soldiers know when they have stepped over the line and apologize, as this situation then played out.

Tory MP Paul Calandra apologized to Canada's first astronaut (Garneau) on Monday for an insult he says crossed the line....
“Does the minister not agree with the NDP that the first Canadian in space should have been invited to the Canadarm event?” Harris wondered.
Calandra responded that the Canadian Space Agency was in charge of the invitations, but then threw an unexpected shot at Garneau.
“We are very proud of Canada's astronauts,” he said. “It is a shame that the Liberal Party rejected him by 80 per cent at their leadership convention.”
Garneau dropped out of the Liberal leadership race weeks before Justin Trudeau won on the first ballot with 80 per cent of the vote.
Harris quickly called Calandra’s response “disgraceful” and “beneath a member of the Government of Canada.”

I don't think any Canadian that saw what went on last week wasn't appalled by the lack of respect shown a true Canadian hero. But while we were appalled, we shouldn't have been surprised. It was just another example of tactics used by the Harper government. Par for the course. Steven Harper is a bully. He always has been and he only gets worse and more flagrant as time marches on.His government have no interest in showing any respect for Canadians or the people who represent them, unless they are on Harper's side. They are paid and elected to represent all Canadians and all people that reside in their ridings, but clearly that is not the case.
Chantal Hebert, a highly respected and veteran journalist who has seen many Canadian politicians come and go in her time as a top reporter and commentator recently commented on the Harper "way."

It is not unusual for a government to shed support over the first half of its term. That is when the policy heavy lifting usually gets done. But it is more unusual for a governing party to devote so much energy on making unrelenting nastiness one of its defining features...Harper’s brand has deteriorated since the last election. That cannot be put down to the so-called Trudeau effect and it should not be treated lightly by the Conservatives for the prime minister defines the character of the government and character is ultimately what voters base their judgment on.
Former prime minister Paul Martin’s demise reached the point of no-return when a magazine affixed the label of Mr. Dithers upon him. At the mid-point of a majority mandate that has featured more partisan negativity than high-road governance, Harper seems intent on going down in history as a political bully. It is not a title to be proud of.

Why do Canadians seem to put up with Harper? What is the upside?
As Hebert mentions in her article, Harper came in with big promises on change and how he was going to be different. Well, he is different all right, but as for his promises he has been a total flop. Again, Chantal Hebert:

"And yet when he first came to office in 2006, the current prime minister did not lack for consensual goals.
He promised to fix the democratic deficit that plagued Parliament. Instead Harper’s contribution to that deficit already surpasses that of his predecessors.
The Conservatives were going to end the culture of entitlement that pervaded previous governments. Instead, some of Harper’s senators and ministers have embraced that culture in relative impunity.
The prime minister also vouched to restore accountability to government. Instead, he has presided over increasingly opaque budgets and a Kafkaesque regime of communication designed to obscure rather than inform. The auditor general himself has trouble following the money through the federal system these days."

How does he do it? Make promises, renage on them, yet bully his way along to smokescreen many Canadians to continue to support him?
Harper is a slick, yet vile, snake oil salesman. And he is very good at it. He plays the part perfectly. He has many fooled, including the masses who he convinced to vote for him in the last election with his smear campaign. He promised to deliver many things and he has done none of that. He is a colossal failure. He knows it, and most of us know it. But we are stuck with him for 2 more years, and he knows that as well. And in that time, he seems intent on bullying anyone and everyone who gets in his way and maximizing his path of destruction. 
The Garneau incident is hardly the first offensive thing he is responsible the last couple of months.

Some Conservative MPs are speaking out against what they believe is an erosion of parliamentary democracy by denying them opportunities to air their views on abortion and other issues.
Mark Warawa, the Conservative MP for Langley, B.C., took the unusual step Tuesday of asking the Speaker of the House of Commons to look into what he argued was a breach of his parliamentary privileges.
Warawa said he was prepared to deliver a statement in the Commons ahead of question period last Thursday, when, for reasons he did not explain, he was removed from the list of MPs slated to speak....On Tuesday, Conservative MPs who are also known to hold anti-abortion views expressed their support for Warawa on his question of privilege.
“I have had my rights taken away when it comes to representing my constituents on certain topics and I just do not think that is appropriate,” Leon Benoit, Conservative MP for the Alberta riding of Vegreville—Wainwright, told the Commons Thursday shortly after Warawa spoke.

Last time I checked the MP's who are elected represent the people who voted them in, and are supposed to speak on their behalf. Not on the behalf of Stephen Harper and his personal agenda. So, if you attempt to do what you are elected to do, then you can expect to be bullied, threatened and muzzled behind closed doors. I am not naive. This is nothing new and Stephen Harper didn't invent this tactic nor is he the first to employ it. But, in the past, when a member of parliament wanted to speak up in parliament, he at least did and then faced the consequences. He wasn't stopped before he could even get himself in trouble with the bully. Those days appear to be over. It is a new level of control we haven't seen in a very long time. Harper is now the chief of police, the judge and the bully, all wrapped up in one.
You can be sure the rest of the MPs got the message. Don't cross me. Don't talk when I don't want you to talk. Don't expect to get any promotions or support if you cross me. The next day, the MP's said the whole thing was blown out of porportion and that they had no issues with the Harper leadership.
Problem solved. Bully control maintained. 
I suppose everything is fine, if you accept the type of control the old Communist Parties of the Eastern bloc had over the members. 
A week or so later, after Justin Trudeau was formally elected the new leader of the Liberal Party, and hence the only true threat to the bully control of Harper, he was similarly attacked by Harper's government in attack ads.

 As Justin Trudeau stated in his response to the attack ads:

"Canadians deserve better."

Where does that end? I don't know, but it seems it ends with Canada stuck with a mountain of debt, high unemployment, environmental destruction and a ghettoized economy while Harper walks away with the Golden handshake. And all the while, none of us are able to speak up about it, because the biggest bully in the land is the one with the most power. When we were in school, we knew that meant we were going to get a beating each and every day if we didn't fork over our lunch money or whatever thing the biggest bully in school wanted. But, is that the democracy we think we now have? I think not.

Stephen Harper, said, 

“You won’t recognize Canada when I get through with it.” 

He was right. I don't recognize this country anymore. It is starting to look a lot like the one that had to threaten to impeach one of the biggest bullies of all time in 1974 until he walked away on his own. Is that what we want? Is that what we voted for?

Recently, we have had some young people bullied in this country to the point they took their own lives.
How can we expect our government to do anything about bullying when their leader is the biggest bully of them all? We can't. And they won't.
Just like kids who bully and then you find that the parents are also bullies, unless the people at the top are good examples, you have no hope for changing the behavior at the lower level. 
Where does this end? Hopefully in a huge backlash at some point. So far, that has not happened. If it doesn't soon, we are basically being run by a dictatorship for which we used to be fearful of when it was residing on the other side of the world. It is curious to think that we are not afraid of it anymore, when it is now running our own country.  And even more perplexing is that we fully understood and were fearful of it when we went to school but we look the other way now when we can actually do something about it.

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