For the uninformed (judging from my stats, more people from the US read my site than from Canada, so if you are Canadian, you can skip this part...) Canada is being governed by a Conservative minority. That means, the Conservatives hold more seats than any other party, but the other parties (four of them) have a combined total of more seats than the party in power. An election can be triggered by a vote of non-confidence, supported by a majority of MP's. This happened on Friday April 1st, sending Canada to the polls for the third time in seven years. Some people believe this to be a frivolous waste of time and money. However:
- The vote of non-confidence was declared because our Prime Minister has been found in contempt of parliament, for failing to disclose the true cost of several items - the purchase of a large number of fighter jets, corporate tax cuts, and a new law-and order agenda. This is akin to a President of the US being impeached. It's big. Harper has dismissed these allegations as frivolous political noise.
- Our government has become more secretive and closed, despite Harper's campaign, many moons ago, for a more open and accountable governmental process. At the early stages of this election, the general public has been held at arm's length, and the press has been limited in the number of questions they can ask our Prime Minister. The Canadian Association of Journalists released this letter describing the frustrations they face.
- Many of Haper's public appearances and photo opportunities are staged. The general press have been barred from attending and are kept at bay by the RCMP, our national police force. This prevents Harper from having to answer any potentially embarrassing questions.
- At two recent rallies, university students who had registered to attend were barred from the event. In one case, a political science student was barred because her Facebook profile featured a picture of her with the leader of the Liberal Party. In a separate incident, a number of enthusiastic students created a video and their own gathering, a non-partisan rally to encourage other students to get out and vote. Some of them subsequently found themselves barred from attending the Harper rally that was taking place on their campus, in spite of having been previously registered.
If the current government is returned as a majority, I expect to see an erosion of the services and benefits that we take for granted as Canadians. And, our Prime Minister has previously shared his personal views on sexual orientation, before it was politically prudent to remain silent. He has eroded the office of the Status of Women, and has promoted aid programs that focus on abstinence, while ignoring women`s reproductive rights. There is currently no abortion law in Canada, as it was struck down by the Supreme Court a number of years ago - but a conservative majority might try to change this. In spite of the fact that Harper says gay marriage and abortion rights are not part of his platform, I simply don`t believe him. He voted against the recent Transgender Rights bill - which was passed, but then died as a result of the election. This government is completely lacking in transparency and accountability - I don`t think this will improve if they are given more power. Canada`s human rights record has been tarnished since Harper took office, and he has taken several large steps backwards with regards to environmental protection.
There is no doubt in my mind that Harper has to go. I just hope that the rest of the country feels the same way.