Join 3,416 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Harper's War on Science Gets Uglier
January 6, 2014 12:02 AM   Subscribe

Stephen Harper, the Prime Minister of Canada, has become notorious for the way his government treats science. The latest news concerns the shutting of 7 of 9 regional DFO libraries across the country. Despite claims that the collections have been digitized, alarming reports are emerging that a lot of the materials, some dating back to the 19th century, were simply junked.
posted by Phlegmco(tm) (96 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is so soundly despicable. He should be brought to court for destruction of National property.
posted by From Bklyn at 12:08 AM on January 6 [17 favorites]


The Harper government stopped funding the $2-million facility in 2012, saying its services were no longer needed or redundant. At the time, project scientists were planning to do experiments on bitumen pollutants and their impact on fish and other species.

"I've got an expert who will deny that. My expert would totally oppose that theory. You have spoken to the wrong expert; you've got to ask the right expert; and you've got to know what an expert advises you before he advises you. So what I'm going to do is, I'm going to get you another expert." - Malcolm Tucker
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:09 AM on January 6 [28 favorites]


Harper, Abbott, Cameron. What an awful sort some of the Commonwealth countries have elected.
posted by panaceanot at 12:09 AM on January 6 [13 favorites]


I hope Harper shares a jail cell with Rob Ford one day, and they get a single shared meal.
posted by benzenedream at 12:13 AM on January 6 [1 favorite]


I hope Harper shares a jail cell with Rob Ford one day, and they get a single shared meal.

So what you're saying is you want Harper to starve to death?
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:54 AM on January 6 [9 favorites]


There is nothing - absolutely nothing - that makes me angrier than the burning of books.

What we have here is nothing less than a War On Knowledge.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 12:54 AM on January 6 [17 favorites]


The ideological war on knowledge, history, and rationality is getting really fucking dreary. Going to bet this story is inspiring Australia's new government greatly.
posted by Jimbob at 1:05 AM on January 6 [1 favorite]


It's a tragedy in the making; in twenty years Canada will look like Russia, and meanwhile Harper and friends will have graduated to high-paying consultant positions.
posted by happyroach at 1:16 AM on January 6 [3 favorites]


I'm tired of frightened people. That's how assholes like this come to power.
posted by maxwelton at 1:18 AM on January 6 [15 favorites]


The obvious solution: arm librarians.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:00 AM on January 6 [64 favorites]


A DFO scientist told The Tyee, "The cuts were carried out in great haste apparently in order to meet some unknown agenda.

Some unknown agenda. It would seem to me that maybe these cuts are related to Canada's budget deficit and the attempts by the government to reduce spending?
posted by three blind mice at 3:05 AM on January 6 [1 favorite]


I thought Harper resigned already.
posted by laconic skeuomorph at 3:18 AM on January 6 [2 favorites]


Some unknown agenda. It would seem to me that maybe these cuts are related to Canada's budget deficit and the attempts by the government to reduce spending?

I think the figure quoted in one of the articles is 443 000$ a year they saved by doing this. Nothing, as it were, in the grand scheme of Canadian budgets. These are the festering troglodytes and idiots that created a massive budget deficit after inheriting a surplus and have justified their whole sale hacking away at 'Canada' because of it. Classic neocon politics.
My own sense is that it's pure ideology in action.
posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 3:31 AM on January 6 [27 favorites]


Harper, Abbott, Cameron. What an awful sort some of the Commonwealth countries have elected.

It could be worse, my young friend. (Warning: contains Cory Bernardi). It may get worse.
posted by Mezentian at 3:35 AM on January 6 [3 favorites]


> It would seem to me that maybe these cuts are related to Canada's budget deficit and the attempts by the government to reduce spending?

For all conservative governments claim to be fiscally sound, I have yet to see one that did not drive a budget surplus into a deficit that results in disenfranchising the poor and defunding resources of public knowledge and education.

They're either doing it wrong or their goals are not what they claim they are.
posted by ardgedee at 3:37 AM on January 6 [71 favorites]


That man has always scared the bejeezus out of me.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 3:50 AM on January 6


It would seem to me that maybe these cuts are related to Canada's budget deficit and the attempts by the government to reduce spending?

And that excuses actually destroying important records how, exactly?
posted by Thorzdad at 3:58 AM on January 6 [16 favorites]


I wouldn't bet against both Harper and Ford being re-elected. Canadians are turning into a people who will vote for anyone who promises to keep their taxes low and not give a shit about the collateral damage.
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:03 AM on January 6 [4 favorites]


alarming reports are emerging that a lot of the materials, some dating back to the 19th century, were simply junked

All three links in this sentence point to the same site, of which the earliest story dates from the 9th December. From a brief search it looks like HuffPo covered this story on Friday, Boing Boing covered this on Saturday, but both sites also point to The Tyee. Apart from a florid letter to the Vancouver comparing these closures to the burning of the library of Alexandria... nothing.

I'm genuinely curious why there is such a gap between apparent importance of these actions and the lack of coverage in mainstream media so far.
posted by MuffinMan at 4:29 AM on January 6 [5 favorites]


Canadians are turning into a people who will vote for anyone who promises to keep their taxes low and not give a shit about the collateral damage.

You have caught the American Disease. I am so sorry.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:39 AM on January 6 [35 favorites]



Honestly I'd much rather have a Ford elected then a Harper. Ford's politics and behavior may be deplorable but his behavior makes hiding what he's up to that much harder.

Harper is this sneaky little guy who seems so damn boring, blah and plastic that it's easier to just quietly go about doing some pretty horrible things, like this, if it is indeed true.

And no this wouldn't surprise me at all if it was.
posted by Jalliah at 4:59 AM on January 6 [1 favorite]



Honestly I'd much rather have a Ford elected then a Harper. Ford's politics and behavior may be deplorable but his behavior makes hiding what he's up to that much harder.


And enough people like him because he's (a) funny or (b) sticking it to the libruls that he stands a chance of getting reelected in spite of the crack smoking. Because right-wing populism.
posted by acb at 5:08 AM on January 6 [2 favorites]


I would also like more background on this, but it's worth pointing out that the dismantling of libraries and archives across Canada has been going on for a couple of years now. (Which impacts researchers across the globe, who in some cases can't even use ILL to get some materials now.)

It would seem to me that maybe these cuts are related to Canada's budget deficit and the attempts by the government to reduce spending?

It would seem to me that the information and research that have been lost or relocated a) probably cost a lot of money to begin with, b) will cause additional problems when researchers are using incomplete datasets to try to assess situations, and c) will foist higher costs onto other libraries and research grants if the scientists have to purchase materials that they used to be able to access. Generally speaking, libraries are not huge budget-busters.
posted by jetlagaddict at 5:20 AM on January 6 [8 favorites]


TBM: Some unknown agenda. It would seem to me that maybe these cuts are related to Canada's budget deficit and the attempts by the government to reduce spending?
I would suggest that the "agenda" is quite clear. From one of the linked articles, detailing the sudden defunding of the Experimental Lakes Area:
The Harper government stopped funding the $2-million facility in 2012, saying its services were no longer needed or redundant. At the time, project scientists were planning to do experiments on bitumen pollutants and their impact on fish and other species.
Make it impossible for environmental scientists to carry out work on pollution (by defunding their labs and closing their libraries) and you reduce the potential legal liability of the energy companies in whose interests the Harper government is working.
posted by Sonny Jim at 5:30 AM on January 6 [12 favorites]


the energy companies in whose interests the Harper government is working

Calling fossil fuel extraction outfits "energy companies" plays straight into their greenwash. Could we perhaps not do that?
posted by flabdablet at 5:34 AM on January 6


the road to hell will be paved with aging baby boomers electing ANYONE who will keep their taxes low. I see it in my little town how aging baby boomers are forcing devastating tax cuts on education now that their children are no longer in the school system. They elected a George Bush clone because he promised to lower taxes. What did he do? Instead of raising taxes he raised necessary funds by creating debt in the form of bonds that the town wouldn't even start paying until he was elected to a higher state office, sound familiar? He got reelected by campaigning on this artificial tax cut. What really pisses me off is this massive voting block is a generation that benefited from the biggest redistribution of wealth in our history yet they refuse to pay their share now that it's them footing the bill. They are the ultimate I got mine, fuck you generation.
posted by any major dude at 5:36 AM on January 6 [50 favorites]


I'm genuinely curious why there is such a gap between apparent importance of these actions and the lack of coverage in mainstream media so far.

Because the mainstream media is corporate-owned, i.e., bought and paid for. They are now pretty much nothing more than a propaganda arm of the same people that institute policies like this.
posted by CosmicRayCharles at 5:41 AM on January 6 [2 favorites]


We have our own war on science here in the US:

NASA Destroying Evidence In 2011

Another Destroyed Archived GISS Temperature File
posted by republican at 6:02 AM on January 6


[A couple of comments deleted; cut the weird personal attacks. ]
posted by taz at 6:05 AM on January 6


We have our own war on science here in the US

Ah, yes, morons who don't know how to read a graph, nor provide complete data, nor know the meaning of global climate change have found 2 files out of the trillions kept by NASA that may not have been transferred correctly to the public website, a file transfer error rate most webmasters would be envious of. I assume they also thought the lizard people did it.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:17 AM on January 6 [12 favorites]


"It's an ideological thing coming from a right-wing libertarian government."

The libertarian streak is strong right now. Anarchy is what it really is. Handing the keys to the wolves.
posted by stbalbach at 6:27 AM on January 6 [1 favorite]


Anarchy is what it really is.

This isn't anarchy - it's nihilism.
posted by ryanshepard at 6:31 AM on January 6 [14 favorites]


> What really pisses me off is this massive voting block is a generation that benefited from the biggest redistribution of wealth in our history yet they refuse to pay their share now that it's them footing the bill.

That's my wife's uncle, possibly the smuggest man I've ever met.
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:31 AM on January 6 [2 favorites]


I hope Harper shares a jail cell with Rob Ford one day, and they get a single shared meal.

So what you're saying is you want Harper to starve to death?


I believe he's saying he hopes Ford eats Harper alive.
posted by Aizkolari at 6:37 AM on January 6 [1 favorite]


Ah, fat jokes.
posted by Jairus at 6:43 AM on January 6 [12 favorites]


It will be interesting to see what the civilized world's response will be once the US manages to drag North America down into a new Dark Age.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:47 AM on January 6 [1 favorite]


I'm genuinely curious why there is such a gap between apparent importance of these actions and the lack of coverage in mainstream media so far.

I don't think I'm alone in thinking that I would really like to see some corroboration on this story. It's not that I don't believe the CPC is capable of this, or that I distrust the Tyee, but at the moment it's hard not to see this story as the sort of iffy reblog reporting that spawns urban legends. I hope someone is following up on it.
posted by saturday_morning at 6:49 AM on January 6 [7 favorites]


I'm genuinely curious why there is such a gap between apparent importance of these actions and the lack of coverage in mainstream media so far.

Politicization: If you own a media outlet and that outlet reports on the misdeeds of those in power, you are accused of being a partisan shill for the other guys. In this past year between the Harper Senate scandal, the Ontario Liberal party's power plant woes, and Mayor Flounder, both the Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail have been outed as pawns of both the left and the right.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:01 AM on January 6


Ah, fat jokes.

They are best deep fried.
posted by Mezentian at 7:01 AM on January 6


They are best deep fried.

So we'll have to wait until the Ex, then?
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 7:05 AM on January 6 [2 favorites]


> What really pisses me off is this massive voting block is a generation that benefited from the biggest redistribution of wealth in our history yet they refuse to pay their share now that it's them footing the bill.


Yes. Yes. Yes. As a boomer myself, I encourage young people to question any Canadian over 50 who bullshits about how tough things were when they were kids. Point out how well they were served by the massive, unprecedented investments in health and education, transportation and public infrastucture. Ask them how much their tuition for college amounted to. Remind them that it was their parents who built all this for them. Ask them what the boomer generation ever did to make Canada a better country.

On the whole, the "me" generation of Canada is a huge fucking disappointment. Now that they're old enough to talk about the olden days, they've subsumed all their parents' stories of depression era hardship and now pass them on off their own.

Oh god, now I'm all riled up. Damn.
posted by bonobothegreat at 7:06 AM on January 6 [53 favorites]


The other interesting implication of this is that there is now a powerful disincentive for any government funded entity to digitize and make its information available to the public as it can then be summarily starved of funds other than what is required to maintain a web archive.
posted by srboisvert at 7:29 AM on January 6 [1 favorite]


God save our gracious Queen!
posted by blue_beetle at 7:36 AM on January 6


Canadians are turning into a people who will vote for anyone who promises to keep their taxes low and not give a shit about the collateral damage.


No we're not. Only 38% voted CPC in the last general election, which means that 62% voted Liberal, NDP, BQ or Green, not one of which promised to "keep taxes low." Harper's campaign didn't even hinge on low taxes.

CPC is polling at around THIRTY percent right now. Our CPC MP in Calgary Centre won last year's byelection with just 37% of the vote, which made Centre the least conservative "Conservative" riding in Canada and which should be spelling disaster for Harper's re-election efforts.

If you're talking about Rob Ford- fuck Rob Ford. Toronto got what they voted for. We elected progressive mayors in Calgary and Edmonton. Canada is more than Toronto.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 8:13 AM on January 6 [9 favorites]


Thorzdad: "It would seem to me that maybe these cuts are related to Canada's budget deficit and the attempts by the government to reduce spending?

And that excuses actually destroying important records how, exactly?
"

You're snarking against a strawman opponent. three blind mice was simply pointing out how the author of the article missed the obvious answer.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:15 AM on January 6


Even the government itself is projecting a budget surplus , just in time for the election in 2015 (or 2014 if Harper steps down...)
posted by saucysault at 8:29 AM on January 6


Here's a report from Postmedia News on the wider context of these cuts. They're not just mindlessly slashing these library budgets, they're mindlessly slashing the Canadian Coast Guard and the DFO generally. Harper seems to have it in for the oceans in general.
posted by yoink at 8:39 AM on January 6 [2 favorites]


This makes me want to puke on the front steps of the parliament building. Anyone care to join me? Maybe if Harper slipped and fell on the icy vomit of the collectively disgusted, he might actually get the message.
posted by Lizard at 8:40 AM on January 6 [4 favorites]


Toronto got what they voted for.

While that's largely true and I agree that Ford's worst character traits were already on display before the municipal election, I don't think that anyone knowingly voted for Rob Ford the hangs-out-at-a-crack-house-with-criminals crack smoker. Cut us a tiny bit of slack.

And for what it's worth, the CPC got about 8% of the vote in the recent Toronto Centre by-election.
posted by beau jackson at 8:43 AM on January 6 [2 favorites]


I'm genuinely curious why there is such a gap between apparent importance of these actions and the lack of coverage in mainstream media so far.

It's hard to overstate how one-sided the corporate media has become in Canada. Despite public support for the Harper Conservatives never quite breaking the 40% mark, the only English language newspaper of any significance to endorse a party other than the Conservatives in the last two elections was the Toronto Star.

A shapeshifting mash of merging and divesting conglomerates own most media properties and most of the telecom sector, and the editorial bent of the current arrangement ranges from milquetoast centre-right (Thompson-Reuters/Globe and Mail) to frighteningly proto-fascist, right down to cable news rants about the subhumanity of the Roma people (Quebecor). All must swear an oath of allegiance to the tar sands, and to the bitumen it for which it stands. I suspect this is in large part due to the incestuous clique among corporate boards in Canada whereby most board members of the media giants are currently or have been board members of oil companies. Nobody exemplifies this better than recently disgraced former talking head and excommunicated Conservative, Senator Pamela Wallin. Prior to her appointment, she served on the board of a tar sands company, a private equity firm, one of the nations largest banks and Bell Globemedia, which at the time was a publisher and broadcaster owned by the country's dominant telephone monopoly.

The only media company of any size or impact that isn't decidedly pro-Tory is Torstar, which owns the Toronto Star and a free commuter dailies in major cities under the Metro brand, some community weekly papers. They also own Harlequin Enterprises, so while the editorial stance of their papers is mostly independent, you do have to watch out for the influence of Big Bodice-Ripper. It's a staid center-left daily that has kept a pretty consistent editorial bent over the years. As federal party politics has run to the right over the years, this has resulted in them changing from a mostly Liberal endorsing paper to one that now supports the NDP—at least on the federal level, where they come down for the provincial race will probably hinge on whatever strategy keeps Hudak out of office.

There is also a major newspaper-only company, Postmedia, which is basically the reanimated corpse of Conrad Black's empire. It's currently run by former Blue Jays CEO and right-wing forum troll with a fancy title, Paul Godfrey. His previous newspaper chops included running the Toronto Sun, which for those of you who are unfamiliar, is basically the New York Post with lower Intelligence and Wisdom rolls, plus the UK Sun's Page 3 girl, minus exposed nipples. Fortunately, Postmedia is owned by a bunch of US hedge funds that are currently bleeding it dry.

The final piece of the Canadian political media landscape is a new one: right-wing talk radio. This appears to be gaining currency with the mass of car commuters in the GTA, who need something to seethe along to as they are stuck in traffic. The agenda of these stations in order from most important to least: cheap gas, the destruction of all public sector unions, climate change denial, an incoherent mix of tax revolt plus more spending on car-dependent suburbanites, ROBFORD! (formerly #1) and uppity wimins/minorities (Human Rights Tribunals are KILLING FREEDOM).
posted by [expletive deleted] at 8:52 AM on January 6 [23 favorites]


Apart from a florid letter to the Vancouver comparing these closures to the burning of the library of Alexandria... nothing.

The CBC reported on it. Here's a video.
posted by klanawa at 8:53 AM on January 6


right down to cable news rants about the subhumanity of the Roma people (Quebecor)

What? How many of them are there in Canada? It seems like a bizarre subject for a rant, like if a BNP nationalist type went off about Mexicans.
posted by vogon_poet at 9:06 AM on January 6


There is also a major newspaper-only company, Postmedia, which is basically the reanimated corpse of Conrad Black's empire.

Which has done excellent reporting on these closures--reporting that predates the Tyee reports in the FPP. (See e.g. the piece I linked to up above, or this piece from April last year.)
posted by yoink at 9:09 AM on January 6 [1 favorite]


What? How many of them are there in Canada? It seems like a bizarre subject for a rant, like if a BNP nationalist type went off about Mexicans.

Didn't Canada have a very accommodating immigration/nationality policy for a long time, resulting in many Roma fleeing discrimination in Europe and moving there?
posted by acb at 9:35 AM on January 6 [1 favorite]


What I really want to see (and therefor least expect) is the Conservatives meeting a loss next election, but a narrow enough one that the other parties are scared. Scared enough to introduce and then pass voting reform that allows the 60% of Canada that did not vote Conservative to translate a little better into 60% representation, instead of effectively 0% as it is today.

But we are likely stuck with our horrid FPTP system until long after I or Canada pass on.
posted by Imperfect at 9:43 AM on January 6 [3 favorites]


Starting about 5 years ago there was a significant increase in the number of Roma refugee claimants coming to Canada mostly from Hungary and the Czech Republic. The Federal government's visa restrictions and refugee determination procedures have been in flux ever since to discourage this.

Refugee claimants have a right to social assistance, healthcare (until last year), and a work permit. Overall it doesn't cost us much money, (we're paying for most of the healthcare through the Provinces now anyway) but it has given horrible people like Levant something to rant about.
posted by beau jackson at 9:43 AM on January 6 [1 favorite]


Here's a relevant recent piece from the Globe and Mail about Roma and Canadian immigration policy.
posted by yoink at 9:43 AM on January 6 [2 favorites]


Two things:

1) Two Postmedia reporters have been doing particularly outstanding jobs tracking what some (self-linking with a wink) are calling The War on Science, and you should follow them on Twitter or elsewhere: Mike De Souza (Twitter / web) and Margaret Munro (Twitter / web).

2) If you'd like to see where these unconscionable library closures fit into the larger Harper agenda, check out this excerpt from my recent book and/or read a review or two (and then maybe go order a copy)

As for three blind mice's belt-tightening-in-tough-times line (which is one of the preferred CPC caucus talking points on this issue), it's a smokescreen. The line items being cut here are miniscule. With the money this government's spent planting the phrase "Economic Action Plan" in Canadian minds, you could fund the Experimental Lakes Area -- a one-of-a-kind aquatic research facility one biologist called Canada's equivalent of the Hadron collider -- for more than 60 years. These libraries cost less each year to keep open than Harper's DND is spending on a stealth snowmobile prototype.

I could go on. In fact I did, for 170 pages.
posted by gompa at 9:47 AM on January 6 [20 favorites]


But we are likely stuck with our horrid FPTP system until long after I or Canada pass on.

Be careful what you wish for. Proportional Representation generates some pretty perverse outcomes once you get to the horse trading phase of actually forming a government. You might think "of course the left and center-left parties will form a bloc" but there's a pretty strong incentive for smaller parties to make what seem like counter-intuitive deals with parties they're naturally opposed to. They often feel that if they go along with the "obvious" choices they'll simply become invisible and be taken for granted, whereas if they make a very explicit deal with the "enemy" they can make very demonstrable claims about what they've "achieved."
posted by yoink at 9:47 AM on January 6


the road to hell will be paved with aging baby boomers electing ANYONE who will keep their taxes low. I see it in my little town how aging baby boomers are forcing devastating tax cuts on education now that their children are no longer in the school system. They elected a George Bush clone because he promised to lower taxes. What did he do? Instead of raising taxes he raised necessary funds by creating debt in the form of bonds that the town wouldn't even start paying until he was elected to a higher state office, sound familiar? He got reelected by campaigning on this artificial tax cut. What really pisses me off is this massive voting block is a generation that benefited from the biggest redistribution of wealth in our history yet they refuse to pay their share now that it's them footing the bill. They are the ultimate I got mine, fuck you generation.

There is no evidence to support your argument. Voting habits in Canada are much more defined by regional and education-level differences than by generational differences.
I'm a gen-Xer and my experience is that most of the right-leaning voters I know are younger than me. Just look at the demographics of the Ford Nation, for example.
posted by rocket88 at 9:54 AM on January 6


What? How many of them are there in Canada? It seems like a bizarre subject for a rant, like if a BNP nationalist type went off about Mexicans.

With the rise of Neo-Nazism in Hungary since the financial crisis, Roma from there became the single largest group of asylum seekers in 2010, 2011 and 2012. The Harper Government started rounding them up and deporting them, characterizing extended families as criminal human trafficking gangs. To speed things along, Canada added Hungary to the list of countries with sufficient human rights protection to fast-track the rejection of asylum claims originating there. Immigration Minister and pro-life closet case Jason Kenney gave a press conference last year where he characterized the deportations as targeting gangs of thieves and pickpockets posing as refugees. He never mentioned ethnicity, but Ezra Levant heard the whistle and carried forth the charge in a bizarre on-air rant where he let us in on a secret, that people claiming discrimination and calling themselves "Roma" were actually GYPSIES! And he let us know all the ways in which GYPSIES are evil, horrible, thieving, filthy monsters undeserving of mercy or quarter. How he wasn't fired for this, I still don't understand.

Today, you can find Ezra Levant focusing mostly on how First Nations groups (who he insists on referring to as "Indians") and environmental groups are secretly backed by MUZLIM EXTREEMISTS! Also, climate change denial, but you probably could have guessed that, right?
posted by [expletive deleted] at 10:00 AM on January 6 [4 favorites]


Be careful what you wish for. Proportional Representation generates some pretty perverse outcomes once you get to the horse trading phase of actually forming a government.

Replacing first-past-the-post voting doesn't necessarily mean you end up with many small parties. I don't think anyone's talking about switching to a German-style system.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 10:00 AM on January 6


What we have here is nothing less than a War On Knowledge.

Indeed, and I'm betting Mr. Turner (mefi's own gompa) is planning an adendum to his book.

Actually, really looking forward to catching my CPC Member at the door when she's stumping for the next election. I would like to ask if her clapping like a trained seal at everything Harper says during question period is just her worried about her career or if she's on board with the lack of ethics and accountability in the PMO Office, destruction of records and historical documents, and so forth.
posted by nubs at 10:07 AM on January 6


Canadians are turning into a people who will vote for anyone who promises to keep their taxes low and not give a shit about the collateral damage.

I don't think this is true at all. In 2011, 60% of eligible voters cast a vote. Harper won 40% of the popular vote. In other words, 25% of the eligible electorate voted for Harper and the Conservatives.

Of this constituency, there is a hard-core that will always vote Conservative. But that hard core is not enough to win elections. Instead, a certain number of 2011 votes for the Conservatives - the votes that won them a majority based on just 40% of the popular vote - came from swing voters.

Harper's politics are all about meeting the needs of this 10%.

The clearest example of this is the Harper government's foreign policy, which is totally driven by domestic politics, rather than by a long-range strategic vision for Canada.

Reminds me of Man of Straw, by Heinrich Mann.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:13 AM on January 6 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I'm going to jump in and also recommend gompa's book. It's a great resource for understanding this.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 10:15 AM on January 6 [1 favorite]


Ah, fat jokes.

Rob Ford has apparently lost 10 or 15 pounds. If he keeps it up he will be reelected.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:17 AM on January 6


Replacing first-past-the-post voting doesn't necessarily mean you end up with many small parties. I don't think anyone's talking about switching to a German-style system.

Actually, MMP (the German system) is designed to mitigate some of the more fissiparous tendencies of PR; parties have to get past a threshold minimum percentage in order to get representation. And you don't need hundreds and hundreds of tiny parties to generate the effect I'm describing. Heck, it can happen in a FPTP system (look at the Liberal Democrats in the UK). It just becomes a lot more likely to happen in any PR system. Canada already has more parties than a typical FPTP polity. With a PR system you'll get a lot of regional/provincial-interest parties and the horse-trading will be pretty ugly and pretty dispiriting.
posted by yoink at 10:32 AM on January 6


With a PR system you'll get a lot of regional/provincial-interest parties and the horse-trading will be pretty ugly and pretty dispiriting.

That's kind of the problem Canada faces at the moment - people generally vote by region.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:49 AM on January 6


Harper being welcomed to Vancouver this morning.
posted by islander at 11:07 AM on January 6 [1 favorite]


Gawd I hate Iain Black
posted by KokuRyu at 11:10 AM on January 6


I'm not sure if wanting to rein-in taxes is such a bad thing. In BC, and especially on the Island we're dying a death of a thousand cuts.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:41 AM on January 6 [1 favorite]


does anyone know where to find the graphic of the maps comparing canada's protected rivers and lakes before and after harper?

not that i need any more info to keep my blood on a boil when it comes to the conservative party's sell-off of the nation. but it was a striking visual i'd like to use sometime.
posted by ecourbanist at 12:05 PM on January 6


With a PR system you'll get a lot of regional/provincial-interest parties and the horse-trading will be pretty ugly and pretty dispiriting.

There are many kinds of voting systems that are neither FPTP nor PR, of course. Australia's STV comes to mind. It isn't perfect (none of them are) but it's much, much better than FPTP.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 12:07 PM on January 6


I'm not sure if wanting to rein-in taxes is such a bad thing. In BC, and especially on the Island we're dying a death of a thousand cuts.

Cut the taxes and you're pretty nearly always cutting services too. The money isn't just siphoned off and burned in a ceremonial offering to the Gods. Before you grouse about the taxes you're paying you'd better be willing to say specifically which benefits you're happy to lose that that those taxes are paying for.
posted by yoink at 12:12 PM on January 6 [8 favorites]


Before you grouse about the taxes you're paying you'd better be willing to say specifically which benefits you're happy to lose that that those taxes are paying for.

Those of us in the GTA have come to understand that the approved way is to mutter about "efficiencies" and move on.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:29 PM on January 6


I'm not sure if wanting to rein-in taxes is such a bad thing. In BC, and especially on the Island we're dying a death of a thousand cuts.

Have a look at the decreases to corporate taxes in the last half-century (first table on this page).
That's the reason we're running deficits and that's the reason individual income taxes are shouldering an increasing share of the revenue burden.
The problem was never too much government spending.
posted by rocket88 at 12:39 PM on January 6 [2 favorites]


Those of us in the GTA have come to understand that the approved way is to mutter about "efficiencies" and move on.

Mutter? Never. Proudly talk about restoring "fiscal sanity". Shout about the "GRAVY TRAIN" and ending free sandwiches during council meetings. Don't forget to promise billions in new spending to go with the tax cuts. Remember, the "fiscal responsibility" of policy is determined by how much it minimizes the tax burden of homeowner car-commuters and whether any of the spending benefits people who use streetcars or bicycles, or who don't own property. 100% of all wages paid to unionized public sector employees is by definition "waste". 100% of all money spent on social assistance that isn't a subsidy to homeowners is "fraud". 100% of all remaining money spent on things other than police, roads or subways is "abuse".
posted by [expletive deleted] at 1:13 PM on January 6 [8 favorites]


Broken link should go here.
posted by rocket88 at 1:15 PM on January 6


I'm not sure if wanting to rein-in taxes is such a bad thing. In BC, and especially on the Island we're dying a death of a thousand cuts.

I'm not sure I'm following you. it says we have relatively low income tax at the expense of a bunch of fees. And it's a pretty true. The fees are a bit odd. When I came to BC from Ontario, the MSP fee was a bit of a shocker. I don't really get it. In Ontario, OHIP is tax-funded, paid by employers and in turn reflected on your paycheck. There's no monthly fee, and after living in Ontario for 3 months you just simply get coverage, pretty sure whether you're working or not, no "premium assistance" required. I don't really understand the monthly fee model--what's the advantage? To make rich people think they system is more fair to them by charging everyone making over $30,000 per household the same number? Just to make the tax rate look more impressive? What? Offloading to "Fee" models just makes it look like they think we're suckers that can't do the math.
posted by Hoopo at 1:59 PM on January 6


Cut the taxes and you're pretty nearly always cutting services too. The money isn't just siphoned off and burned in a ceremonial offering to the Gods. Before you grouse about the taxes you're paying you'd better be willing to say specifically which benefits you're happy to lose that that those taxes are paying for.

I guess you've never heard of the tax shift from wealthy folks and corporations to working families, have you?

As well, higher Hydro rates (which are going to kill me) are caused by a couple of things that have nothing to do with servces: 1) government interference over the past decade into Hydro policy and operations, and fiscal management 2) Hydro's decision to install smart meters. It cost a billion dollars, and consumers are paying for it. I don't think smart meters are a bad idea, but does it result in better services? Don't answer if you don't live in BC.

Medical "premiums" have gone up one hell of a lot; not all provinces have them. Kevin Falcon stated when he was finance minister a couple of years ago that the main reason why families have to pay MSP ($140 a month) was to force people to realize that health costs money. It's not a meaningful contribution to the $25 billion BC health budget.

Falcon's statement was made in the backdrop of repealing the HST (ie, MSP premiums are high out of pure spite). The HST was a good tax (better an HST than higher income taxes for ordinary folks like me).

Ferry fares: the current transportation minister has stated that GDP of a community dictates infrastructure spending. The Liberals also fucking HATE the Island, so every time ferry fares go up, so does the cost of basic staples to feed my family.

The sad truth of the matter is that Vancouver as a "primate city" doesn't generate very much revenue, because nothing much goes on in the city compared to Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal.

So BC has to rely on coal exports to pay for everything.

Sometimes I wish Vancouver Island could just secede. We're 10X bigger than PEI...
posted by KokuRyu at 1:59 PM on January 6 [1 favorite]


It's not a meaningful contribution to the $25 billion BC health budget

I think it's in the neighbourhood of 10% of their revenue, so it's not insignificant. Income tax would have to increase somewhat to offset a loss that large. Which I'd be totally OK with TBH
posted by Hoopo at 2:55 PM on January 6


As well, higher Hydro rates (which are going to kill me) are caused by a couple of things that have nothing to do with servces: 1) government interference over the past decade into Hydro policy and operations, and fiscal management 2) Hydro's decision to install smart meters. It cost a billion dollars, and consumers are paying for it. I don't think smart meters are a bad idea, but does it result in better services? Don't answer if you don't live in BC.

Only partially true: Hydro used to be run exceptionally well by government, BC was known for having some of the lowest power rates in North America.
The real story is that Gordon Campbell, short fingered vulgarian that he is, insisted on partially privatizing it making it so that all new power projects, other than Site C, had to come from the private sector. Hence the inasne rise in costs but hey! that's A-OK as long as a few share holders and owners in the private sector make out like bandits.
posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 3:18 PM on January 6 [1 favorite]


I think all this (certainly necessary) focus on bad policy is burying the lede here, which is: Fuck Stephen Harper and his party of villains, and to genital-scorching hell with the people who elected and re-elected them.

Which isn't really helpful, I know, but: it's really hard to not to be furious at the ruination of your nation.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:27 PM on January 6 [2 favorites]


A horrifying roundup of The Best Worst of Canadian Federal Politics in 2013 (apologies if the link was posted upthread and I missed it).
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:52 PM on January 6 [1 favorite]


The plan is to get Nigel Wright to cut a personal cheque to implement a nation-wide digitization program.
posted by anothermug at 4:38 PM on January 6


The obvious solution: arm librarians.

Previously.
posted by 23 at 5:42 PM on January 6 [1 favorite]


I guess you've never heard of the tax shift from wealthy folks and corporations to working families, have you?

That wasn't the issue that was being discussed, however.
posted by yoink at 7:03 PM on January 6


So what you're saying is you want Harper to starve to death?

I know Rob Ford is a bloviating asshole, and I hate that he's the (nominal) mayor of my city, but it would maybe be really cool if we could focus on his assholery and not mock his weight. (I have been guilty of doing this too. I am not an angel, nor am I sitting on a particularly tall horse. But I've been realizing how gross it is when I do it and I'm trying not to, and it would be cool if those of us whose politics are slightly left of Ford to not shame him for his weight. Shame him for being an utter douchebag, yeah. Please do this. But I've noticed lots and lots of lefties mocking his weight since (and before) he was elected, and it's kind of sad to see so many of us abandoning our nominal principles to attack him.)

Some unknown agenda. It would seem to me that maybe these cuts are related to Canada's budget deficit and the attempts by the government to reduce spending?

Canada's budget for 2012-13 was about 280 billion dollars. The amounts of money saved by Harper's War On Reason are rounding errors. They're meaningless. These cuts that Harper and his evil sidekick Flaherty are making are purely ideological; they are deliberately and unashamedly aimed at dismantling science, knowledge, and reason, because uninformed voters will pretty reliably vote for whoever says the nicest sounding things, and neoconservatives north of the border have been taking cues from our southern neighbours.

As mentioned above, Harper and his 'save money' cronies did exactly what GWB did over a decade ago: walked into a surplus and turned it into a huge debt, then used that debt as an excuse to start systematically dismantling important research, science, etc.

If you're talking about Rob Ford- fuck Rob Ford. Toronto got what they voted for.

It's kind of weird that on the one hand you say the CPC only got ~40% of the vote and therefore Canadians don't like them, but when Ford was elected with only 48% of the vote--still not a majority--somehow Toronto got what it deserved? Not cool, bro.

Yeah, I know Toronto is seen as the centre of the universe in Canada and yeah, that sucks. I'm sorry--truly, I'm not being snarky--that it has affected you so. But maybe you could not say "Hey you can't judge Canada, a minority voted for Harper" while simultaneously saying "Hey fuck Toronto, a minority gave you what you deserve"?


I think all this (certainly necessary) focus on bad policy is burying the lede here, which is: Fuck Stephen Harper and his party of villains, and to genital-scorching hell with the people who elected and re-elected them.

Now this is a sentiment I can get behind. Harper is systematically dismantling many of the things that make us Canada, while simultaneously trumpeting Traditional Canadian something or other.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:42 PM on January 6 [7 favorites]


Here's an extensive list of media reports and links discussing the range of cuts by John Dupuis.

"Fuck Stephen Harper and his party of villains" is going to be my slogan for 2015.
posted by sneebler at 8:26 AM on January 7 [2 favorites]


Lysenko would be proud.
posted by homunculus at 11:28 AM on January 8


That’s no way to treat a library, scientists say
posted by jeffburdges at 12:40 AM on January 15


The real story is that Gordon Campbell, short fingered vulgarian that he is, insisted on partially privatizing it making it so that all new power projects, other than Site C, had to come from the private sector. Hence the insane rise in costs

Here in Australia, electricity charges have also gone steadily and inexorably upward, and supply reliability and energy sector employment steadily downward, since most of the State-run electricity suppliers were sold off.

Has anybody here seen evidence from anywhere in the world to support the idea that private-sector electricity suppliers do in fact cost the consumer less than public-sector suppliers, taking into account tax-derived spending as well as raw bill prices? Because I have never been convinced that the private sector's supposed "efficiency" advantage could possibly make up for the portion of my electricity bill it siphons off into the pockets of shareholders.
posted by flabdablet at 1:30 AM on January 15


Great points. Canada is not alone in this. It seems most of the Western countries are having a bit of trouble supporting the very thing that helps nations prosper, research and development.
posted by mhrussel at 12:21 PM on January 15


"Fuck Stephen Harper and his party of villains" is going to be my slogan for 2015.

I'm sticking with Good to Go because I am still hoping for forced resignation.

btw that link you posted is awesome, sneebler. Harper only likes science if it proves Canada owns the arctic.

Also, wanted to note the newest library cut ... Health Canada in which access to the collection is privatized, and scientists are forming underground libraries in their basements to provide access to research to colleagues.. and borrowing university library cards from their co-op students.

Thanks for this post.
posted by chapps at 10:50 PM on January 21 [1 favorite]


Library cuts in more than a dozen government departments trigger fears of lost knowledge
posted by homunculus at 1:59 PM on January 29


Loss of Librarians Devastating to Science and Knowledge in Canada
posted by homunculus at 1:59 PM on January 29


« Older Each of Historian Barbara Wells Sarudy's six blogs...  |  After being thrashed 5-0 in th... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments