Saundrie

After much prodding by other bloggers, I set this up for my own writings. The name is in honour of the two women that mentored me throughout my life on politics and intelligence issues, as well as being wonderful family members, now alas deceased. I hope to live up to their standards at this site.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Harper to Canadians: ACESS DENIED

Well well well, what do we see here? Why it is Prime Minister Harper suddenly going back on yet another one of his main crusade points in his morality campaign against the Liberal government. This time he is going back on what was certainly one of his longer running themes, access to information restrictions by the government being such an evil and destructive thing to transparent and accountable to Canadians government. After all he used to tell us, if you do not know what the government is doing in your name how can you approve or disapprove of it? Suddenly though one of the cornerstones of his Accountability Act is no longer apparently as important as it was during that morality crusade AND the last election campaign. Now that it is his government suddenly the idea of the public being able to request information from the government and actually expect an answer is apparently something that needs more study and cannot be implemented in the Accountability Act, at least not at this time. Wow, who would have seen that one coming? After all, it is Harper himself that told Canadians how important it was for the average citizen to be able to find out what the government is doing, it was Harper that told us that the restrictions the Liberals had in place were so corrosive to democracy and offensive to all that believe in accountable and responsible government and should not be tolerated in an open and free democracy. Yet now that he has his first government he is not content with doing his best to restrict the media's access to the physical aspects of his government except in Harper approved formats, he includes their ability to research what the government is doing via paperwork as well as restricting the ability of any Canadian to do so as well?

Some transparent government Harper is running to date. There is a veil of secrecy coming down upon the Canadian government the likes of which have not been seen in decades. When one takes together the media restriction limits, the restrictions upon his MPs and their staffs and the need to clear everything through his office, the five priorities being the sole approved discussion points for the government, and now this unwillingness to improve the access to information access for Canadians after bemoaning them for so long in Opposition a really disturbing pattern forms. This is a very weak minority government doing this degree of restriction and expecting the public to believe it is acceptable. Indeed, they are truly acting in these areas as if they have a majority and not a minority. They are acting as if the public will be content to simply let the Conservatives do as they please for the first year or two and feel that they can run roughshod over the media since they feel the only real opposition to their agenda is the media. Which unfortunately would be nice since the BQ are afraid of the CPC at the moment, the Liberals are leaderless, and the NDP are being led by a man more interested in power himself than the principles of his party and protecting that legacy as well as trying to improve upon it.

This is yet one more brick in the wall of secrecy Harper is placing around his government from the Canadian people and the Canadian media. Remember that access to information requests are a major tool in investigative journalism into what the government is doing, how it is doing it, and who it is doing it with. It is how many scandals get their first taste of existence when a reporter finds something in such a request which sets them on a trail. So when Harper reverses himself on implementing the access to information protocols he campaigned on as part of his loudly proclaimed at every turn masterpiece of cleaning up government Accountability Act after all the other media restrictions and public speaking by his government even to the idea of keeping the fact Cabinet is even meeting a secret it becomes quite difficult to claim this is nothing out of the ordinary for a new government. Even if that were true it is irrelevant seeing as the CPC and Harper campaigned and won the election on ethics, accountability, cleaning up government and doing things differently than the old corrupt ways. Harper is trying to pretend he did not run a morality campaign last time out. The thing about a morality campaign is if it works the downside is that the standards one spoke so strongly for while in that morality campaign are a fair standard by which whomever used the morality campaign to win can and should be evaluated and not the history of prior governments. Harper wants to reap the benefits and avoid the drawbacks, which seems to be a fairly consistent theme with him when one thinks about it.

I am becoming increasingly worried that my fears for what a Harper government would mean for this country may actually have been understating the reality instead of overstating it. Given all the use of this Accountability Act as a shield for all the ethically questionable decisions of Harper's since the first day of his swearing in (Emerson, Fortier, O'Conner, being contemptuous of any protest of Emerson as being superficial in nature, dismissing Shapiro's responsibility to launch a preliminary investigation despite the obvious outcome being what it was etc) to see one of what was touted as a primary component of it being removed "for further study in committee" is both offensive and about what I have come to expect from this government in its short lifetime to date. So this is the clean cut Conservative government that was going to show how much better and morally superior it was to the prior governments, especially the Martin Liberal one. Harper is doing something I never thought possible, he is making me somewhat nostalgic for the government of Joe Clark or even Mulroney, although that one is only by a hair and could fall back at any time. I really did not care for Mulroney's arrogance and willingness to gamble with the future of the country as he did, especially not when he describes it that way himself. Unfortunately I fear Harper if he opens up Constitutional discussions will be making the same arrogant mistake with potentially even worse consequences than Mulroney left us with, and those were no small negatives.

*Thanks to Maple Leaf Politics for the article referenced*

P.S. If anyone thinks I am the only one troubled by Harper's actions where the media is concerned and the potential for some really serious negative impacts for Canada and the ability of Canadians to find out what their govenrment is really doing (as opposed to what they are telling us, something that never should be trusted without reservation or verification) this post by Steve at Far and Wide is an interesting read IMHO.

3 Comments:

Anonymous john said...

The article doesn't state what it will include though either so before you go and jump off a bridge, perhaps you should wait and see the actual bill? Cart then horse or horse then cart, hmmmmm?

Wed Apr 05, 10:44:00 AM 2006  
Blogger Scotian said...

John:

No. I will raise what issues I feel are warranted when I feel they are warranted and not when YOU think it is warranted. This was a major part of the Accountability Act package sold to Canadians and now there is a credible report that this is being removed and sent to committee. Well until that report is contradicted by the CPC and Harper by actions I plan on making sure that this gets as much notice as I am able to give it. So sorry if that bothers you so much, you know for someone that appears to have such an interest in politics you really are more than a little dense on how politics actually works, especially in this country.

As for what it may include, that doesn't change anything regarding what is being taken out regarding access to information. You are starting to become quite the defender of the current government which in turn tends to reveal your own political interests/affiliations.

Incidentally, by trying to get this issue noticed prior to the release of the bill this is an attempt to try and create a movement to make sure that this is not stripped out as it really is an important aspect for increased government accountability and transparency. So by drawing attention to it prior to the release of the bill I am trying to make sure this aspect is not removed. I guess though that is a concept foreign to your mindset. So don't bother trying to tell me when something is or isn't appropriate like this again, all you do is give me that much more ammunition to show you for the pest that you are instead of the honest critic you like to portray yourself as.

Wed Apr 05, 04:00:00 PM 2006  
Anonymous john said...

You know a while back the cable companies used to do something called reverse billing where they would give you some free channels for a month and then if you didn't cancel them, you were charged for them. It's called reverse billing. Oh ya, it's also illegal because the onus is not on the consumer but rather the provider. You are the provider here Scotian and for you to say that until the gov't (the consumer) tells you otherwise, it is by definition true. That's the weakest argument I have ever heard. Why is the onus on them to disprove your story? Does the same work if I make up a story about you?

Just thinking: What if the bill replaces it with an easier method of gaining access? What if AP source is even more biased/partisan then you are? That still wouldn't change anything eh? Don't let the facts get in the way of your agenda Scotian.
You still have no idea what my political beliefs are, I am simply, again, asking you to judge on the facts, not on speculation or rumour. If labelling me helps then feel free to do it.
I am not claiming one or another, I am simply stating that before you throw yourself in front of a train, let's actually hear what the bill says. But then again, I am not as smart as you right?
FYI, there is a typo in your title. ACCESS.

Wed Apr 05, 06:28:00 PM 2006  

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