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A Brief History of Harper

Apr 15 2011

Information collected from various journals and periodicals and encyclopedias.

By the mid-2000s, the Canadian liberal party was dogged constantly by the sponsorship scandal. Forced by a confidence vote (introduced by Harper), the 2006 general election produced a minority government for the opposition Conservative Party, making Stephen Harper prime minister. As a result of the lowest voter turnout in Canadian electoral history Stephen Harper won a new mandate as Prime Minister of Canada, taking his place in history as holding the lowest level of support of any Prime Minister since Confederation.

Shortly after, ‘Canada’s new government’ passed a law ensuring that federal election happened every four years. The economic catastrophe that began in 2007 meant that if the Conservative government waited till the true election date in 2009, they would lose. So Harper defied his own law and called an election in 2008, before the general public realized the state of the economy. The election failed to give the majority vote Harper was hoping for.

The Conservative government’s fiscal update, which was presented to the Commons on November 27, 2008, included several provisions that were rejected by the opposition parties. Though the government later withdrew several contentious elements, the Liberal Party and New Democratic Party reached an accord to form a minority coalition government, with the Bloc Québécois agreeing to provide support on confidence issues and, therefore, enabling a majority in the Commons. Harper asked Governor General Michaëlle Jean to prorogue Parliament in order to avoid a vote of confidence scheduled to happen shortly, becoming the first Canadian PM ever to do so. This meant that any government bills going through the parliamentary system were not passed and when parliament reconvened the following year, they would have to start again.

A year later, Harper asked Governor General Michaëlle Jean to prorogue Parliament again. This time, Harper claimed that government could not cope with both the economic crisis and the challenge of hosting the Winter Olympic Games (kind of like Bush about whom it is said can’t walk and chew gum). In reality, Harper was skirting the real issue of the Canadian Afghan detainee affair and the risk of being held accountable for being in comtempt of Parliament. Prorogation prevented the parliamentary committee from continuing to probe the issue. Again this left Canada without a government and all Bills going through at the time were not passed. By January 2010, Canadians had had enough. People began to protest in the thousands and international criticism regarded Canada as having lost its democracy.

A few months later, an already beleaguered nation hosted the G8 and G-20 summits. The G-20 was scheduled to take place in the downtown core of Canada’s largest city, Toronto. According to an early estimate by the Globe and Mail, 10,000 uniformed police officers, 1,000 security guards, and several Canadian military forces were to be deployed during the summit. The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) conducted Amalgam Virgo exercises on May 6 and 7 across the Greater Toronto Area using CF-18 Hornet jets, CH-124 Sea Kings, and CH-146 Griffon helicopters at low altitudes. The total cost for security at both the G8 and the G-20 summits was determined to be $930 million, paid entirely by the federal Crown-in-Council, excluding the costs of any possible damage to local businesses.

The summits became the target of widespread protesting, starting almost a week before the meetings even happened and thousands of front-line cops spent the summit weekend sweating inside riot helmets and gas masks, watching the all-important trust between the public and their profession slip away. As many as 10,000 people protested downtown during the afternoon of June 26. Riots began, including the torching of police cars and vandalism to many businesses. On June 27, Additional officers from the Ontario Provincial Police were deployed, doubling the total number of officers to 20,000. A total of 1105 people were arrested in relation to the G-20 summit protests, the largest mass arrests in Canadian history.  Nearly 1000 protesters marched to Toronto City Hall and Queen’s Park to protest the treatment of arrested individuals at the Eastern Avenue holding centre and demanded the release of individuals still being detained, although police had earlier released several arrested on minor charges. Amnesty International called for an official investigation into the police tactics used during the protests. The organization alleged that police violated civil liberties and used police brutality. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association decried the arrests and alleged that they occurred without “reasonable grounds to believe that everyone they detained had committed a crime.”

On January 29th 2011, more than 10,000 unionized workers clogged the streets of downtown Hamilton to show solidarity, protest the pension demands and criticize Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his government for letting the dispute happen in the first place. This is the largest anti-Harper protest so far, but it won’t be the last.

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2 responses so far

2 Responses to “A Brief History of Harper”

  1. As Mark Twain use to say ‘Few things are more difficult to tolerate than the annoyance of a good example.’

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