In the space of a few short months since Bill C-51 was announced, hundreds of thousands of people have taken action to stop it: signing petitions, writing letters to local newspapers, phoning and writing to their member of Parliament, and hitting the streets in nationwide demonstrations in over 70 communities across Canada.
No federal government in recent memory -- possibly ever -- has precipitated more fights with its appointed watchdog officials or special interest advocacy groups than the current one. It's an issue largely fuelled by Harper's insatiable appetite to control the flow of information and the substance of political debate. It is no surprise, then, that the Canadian Association of Journalists has twice given Harper its "Code of Silence" award, handed to a government or publicly funded agency "for keeping secret what it should make accessible."
There was no Earth Day speech. No urgent call to action. No outlining of the threats we face or the way in which we were going to work together to meet them. There wasn't even an Earth Day tweet -- just silence. It was a very stark reminder of his priorities. U.S. President Barack Obama's speech noted that we are already experiencing the impacts of climate change. The fact that 2014 was the hottest year ever recorded, that droughts, storms, and wildfires are increasing all over the planet in both frequency and intensity, and how climate change is already adversely affecting the air our children breathe.
While most of the Indian diaspora as well as some Canadian politicians were very excited about Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Canada, there were others who were outraged and saw it as an opportunity to express their displeasure with protests. But Modi is not the first leader of a nation to be accused of some form of transgression.
Since 2010, annual funding for the RCMP has declined in every year except one. The Conservatives claim they need to put new powers in the law, but police forces and security officers cannot fully utilize the laws already there when their budgets don't give them the necessary resources. And new laws will be meaningless without the funding to make them work. The well-being of Canadians is put at risk when these things are undermined. Honest or not, dangerous or not, Stephen Harper has been prepared to compromise even public safety to concoct the claim of a balanced budget before the 2015 election.
Given the parliamentary majority that the Harper government currently enjoys, official effective opposition to its typically extreme legislative proposal lies squarely in the hands of the Supreme Court. Thomas Mulcair and Justin Trudeau's respective decisions to stand aside the bill as it makes its way in the House of Commons, preferring instead to pitch oversight-related amendments as part of their prospective federal electoral platforms, reinforces this reality.
No matter how you slice it, Harper has failed to lead Canada towards a sustained economic recovery from the financial crisis seven years ago. It doesn't matter how much public money he spends on ads claiming otherwise. Facts are facts. So, what does a government facing re-election do when its top agenda item, economic management, is in tatters? It changes the channel to something else.