Friday, April 14, 2006

A whiff of dictatorship

The Harper government's latest outrage—gagging an Environment Canada scientist and part-time novelist, and ordering that he not attend his own book launch—is unsettlingly symptomatic of the regime that Canadians can expect to endure for the next couple of years.

It took virtually no time at all for the totalitarian Conservative worldview to emerge once Stephen Harper took power. Many of us have been in denial ever since, rubbing our eyes and struggling to wake up. But we're already awake, folks. This really is our Canada.

We’re a nation at war, with a strutting Prime Minister posing for endless media photo-ops with the military folks, looking for all the world like a pudgy recrudescence of
il Duce. This is a country where research programs to reduce global warming are being trashed as I write, despite hollow denials. A country in which supporting the theory of evolution can lose you a federal research grant.

Canada is now a place where government backbenchers can muse aloud about jailing journalists. A place where sick and elderly Native survivors of residential schools, promised a little cash in advance by the Liberals pending a global settlement, are now denied that support in a staggeringly mean-spirited move. A country that, internationally, leads the charge in trying to starve the Palestinian people into submission after they elected the "wrong" government in free and fair elections.

Harper's cheerleaders, of whom there are many in the blogosphere, have performed extraordinary feats of verbal and mental acrobatics to rationalize his behaviour. The man who claimed that he wanted transparency and openness in government has quickly moved to impose the exact opposite, dropping a new and lethal shroud of secrecy upon the public service and his own Cabinet. He's already making the one-man-rule antics of Jean Chrétien look, well, small-town cheap. And the retrograde and hateful "social conservatism" that has been kept under lock and key by the Maximum Leader continues to leak from bursting seams.

The Conservatives have been in power for less than three months. What's next? Welcome to my waking nightmare, which just may continue a little longer than a few days:

Yes, well there are a lot of bleeding hearts around who just don't like to see people with helmets and guns. All I can say is, go on and bleed, but it is more important to keep law and order in the society than to be worried about weak-kneed people who don't like the looks of...

Q: At any cost? How far would you go with that? How far would you extend that?

A: Well just watch me.

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