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.
What could be some of the factors leading to this pattern emerging from the province? One factor may be the high level of support the anti-terrorism bill has in the province. According to a LEGER poll released on February 9, a whopping 74 percent of Quebecers support the bill, and a further 62 percent support the mission against ISIS in Iraq.
Anyone can be a victim of surveillance. If you've used any of over a hundred popular file-hosting websites in the past three years, chances are you've had your online activity collected and analyzed by CSEC, acting without a warrant and with no independent oversight. There is a great deal that can be done to tackle our privacy deficit.
The Harper government's newly introduced "anti-terrorism" legislature, Bill C-51, has been roundly condemned as an assault on privacy and free speech -- and rightly so. Besides hunting down would-be terrorists, the new laws could be used to stifle dissent, remove due process and lead to the creation of a secret police force, critics say. In a supposedly enlightened and democratic country such as Canada, these would be unwelcome developments to say the least. But there is a deeper cost to eroding privacy than just the spurring of undesirable changes in external entities such as courts and communications networks. Also at stake is the very freedom of Canadians to internally determine who they are and want to be.
The two terrorist attacks in October and the Charlie Hebdo incident in Paris have created a climate of fear in Canada around terrorism. In order to assuage these concerns, the government recently announced its intention to introduce further anti-terrorism legislation. But there are two ways to stop terrorism: you can create new laws and you can also provide adequate funding. While choosing the former option may create the illusion that Harper is tough on terrorism, it's in the latter area that our national security agencies are in greatest need.
Conservative MPs had an historic, unprecedented chance to throw off their chains and empower themselves and all MPs, and political party riding associations, to represent voters. Instead, they changed the Reform Act to the "Hope for Reform Act," essentially giving up the chance to limit party leaders' powers.