Clear the air, Mr. Prime Minister

Posted 02.03.11

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | What isn't local! Well, a single-minded focus on events or places in Ottawa -- as we hear too often -- seems very non-local to me.

If we lived in Calgary, Ottawa would seem local to Aylmer, but we don't live there, we live in wonderful Aylmer, once considered a better choice for the capital of the country than Ottawa. Ottawa is easier to defend, our forefathers finally figured, and history has made it so ever since.

Is Ottawa still so defensible? Should it even be defended? I mean the federal government, not the half-million folks who live and work in the city. The federal government, which once meant the Privy Council, now in effect means the Prime Minister's Office (with its million tax-dollar annual budget).

And why would we defend the Prime Minister's Office in, for example, the current uproar over the tar-sands pipeline through the Rockies and the "Rainforest Coast?"

The Prime Minister made headlines flutter over a week ago, accusing the opposition to that pipeline of being, basically, puppets of the US environmental movement and for interests in the US who do not want Alberta's tar sold to China.

He offered no proof for this accusation, except that after a lot of repetition the accusation sounded familiar enough to maybe be true. Is that evidence?

As a matter of fact, the Prime Minister sees forces of evil behind all of his opponents, on any of the issues of the day -- the pipelines, health-care spending, Native land claims, military spending, and even abortion. (Legal experts say there are at least three clauses in the Harper Omnibus Crime Bill that open the door for another abortion debate. These experts, almost by definition, must be funded by "outsiders"). Opposite these foreign forces, stands Mr. Harper, the Canadian flag wrapped, stretched to fit, around his ample girth.

This is a serious allegation. In the newspaper world it would be grounds for a slander and defamation lawsuit; meaning, I guess, we have one law for the PMO and another for everyone else. Even the American primaries now underway, full of absurd allegations and name-calling, do not permit going as far as calling your opponents, essentially, paid foreign agents.

Yet in the last federal election, our usually docile media revealed that The Harper Team included several political experts from the Republican right in the US; they ranged from speechwriters to strategists, although it we were assured these experts had "retired" just before leaving for Canada. Doesn't having one's political strategy, platform, campaign, daily tactics and dirty tricks, media management, etc., etc., fall under "foreign influence" sound like Mr. Harper's own accusations against his opponents?

Clear the air, Mr. Harper! Defend your principles! Call a public inquiry, without its eyesight blinkered, to examine concrete foreign influence on Canada's governmental system, from political parties to government operations. This would prove your own charges once and for all (or not), and, wow!, it would certainly electrify the entire country.

Copyright © 2012 Fred Ryan/Log Cabin Chronicles/02.12