Sunday, June 3, 2007


Does the secretive government of Stephen Harper draw its inspiration from Dick Cheney?

An op-ed piece in the New York Times today asks the same kinds of questions progressives and liberals have been asking almost from the very beginning of the Bush 43 administration. Noteworthy is what the piece doesn't mention -- that Cheney forced Google Maps to erase the Naval Observatory, the VP's official residence, from its satellite images even though the White House is clear for all to see.

It's one thing to try to conceal evidence of top-secret installations such as Area 51. It's quite another to keep secret where the official US timekeeper keeps its equipment. Does Canada conceal where its atomic clocks are in Chalk River? Does the UK obscure the location of Greenwich?

People have often accused George W. Bush of speaking in a code only evangelicals can understand. But even his most devoted supporters must be wondering if the Founding Fathers would have stood for the kind of close-to-the-vest politics Cheney practices which goes even further than Bush's. There are some secrets which, in times of peace as well as war, must be kept secret. But we expect public officials to be scrutinized for their policy decisions as well as how they reached them.

The fact the other day Cheney denounced those who demand the basic protections of the Constitution and the Geneva Conventions puts him in violation of the very oath he took -- the oath all public officials other than the President take:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter.

The Geneva Conventions, having been ratified by the Senate, take precedence over domestic laws as per Article VI of the Constitution. By piloting the Administration to be a law unto itself with no regard even for the decency of those who with good faith peacefully oppose the government's policies by threatening to declare them "unlawful combatants" and send them to Gitmo or other prisons in the American Gulag, Cheney has positioned himself to be the Dictator of the 50 States with Bush his puppet.

As regards Harper consider:
  • Unannounced Cabinet meetings;
  • No First Ministers' Conference since Harper came to power;
  • Robbing the energy-rich provinces (AB, NL, NS and SK) to bail out Jean Charest;
  • No prior announcement of foreign dignitaries coming to Canada;
  • Outright refusal to even discuss meaningful lobbying reform;
  • Attempt to reform the Senate through entirely unconstitutional means.

Even Brian Mulroney didn't go this far. He may have kept the press out in the cold to an extent but his administration was much more transparent than what we've been getting as of late. He was willing to be subject to criticism -- much of it warranted, but some of it not.

Over a decade ago when Mike Harris came out of nowhere and surged from third place in public opinion to first to win the Premiership of Ontario many compared him to Newt Gingrich, the then Speaker of the US House of Representatives. In reality, Harris was a lot closer to Christie Whitman, the then Governor of New Jersey -- they were social liberals on quite a few issues such as abortion and birth control. And while some of their methods were quite controversial (witness for example Harris' role in the Dudley George scandal), they never kept secret their aims. They had no hidden agendas.

I believe that if we don't call Harper's bluff soon, there will be a Canadian gulag just like there is an American one. I have no qualms in saying so. We need to speak out against it before it's too late.

Vote for this post at Progressive Bloggers.

No comments: