Friday, April 15, 2011

Harper arrogance and abuse of power...not merely bickering

By William Kaplan, Globe and Mail, April 15, 2011
So there we have it: The Prime Minister (Harper) who promised more openness and accountability, who’s been in power for five years, has told the press to get used to it – you can cover my campaign, but you can ask only five questions.

Members of the media were predictably indignant. Paul Wells, of Maclean’s, speaking on April 5 on a morning radio show, lamented the restriction: “The fact is we can’t ask the Prime Minister about real situations that concern real people, we can’t press the Prime Minister for straight answers on things like the cost of his programs, promises he made in the past he hasn’t kept, things like that.”
Journalists play a vital role in our society. We depend on them to ask questions and demand answers. Mr. Harper and the other party leaders are running for the highest office in the land. Even opposition MPs are allowed to ask follow-up questions in the House of Commons. But not reporters covering the Conservative campaign.
The only astonishing thing is that the media are taking it. They are playing along, accepting the unacceptable.
How utterly and tragically Canadian. The man who insists that the world will fall if he is not given a majority government refuses to answer more than 5 questions each day in the election campaign from the media representatives whose presence on his campaign plane, bus, or whatever mode of transportation, costs their employers a bundle. Another waste of good money on the part of those media executives.
And, when they protest, the man who would be the government's and the country's leader, for another four or five years takes one more question and walks away.
And then there is the Canadian public who will shrug and say, "Oh, well, that's only politics anyway!"
So we have another example of minimizing, similar to the downplaying of "bickering" to use the Harper denigration of the vote in the House of Commons that found the Conservatives "in contempt of Parliament".
In one if my several lives, I encountered a female whose need for control exceeded normal and acceptable limits; her peers, prefering politeness and minimizing, commented, "She does't have any social graces!"
as their way of smoothing over the depth of her problem.
This, in my view, is not effective socializing or effective relationship building; it is a form of misrepresentation, and only leads to more abuse by the offending woman whose capacity to lead, including her capacity to build strong and effective relationships in the organization she was charged with leading, was limited by her own excessive need for control and her denial of that obsession.
  • Harper's minimizing of the press,
  •  his denigration the "contempt of Parliament" findings of the Speaker of the House of Commons, and subsequently by a vote of the members of the House,
  • his minimizing of his government's mismanagement of the G8-G20 file, including the misappropriation of the use of some $50 million, voted by parliament for border security but actually spent on "make-up" for Industry Minister Clement's riding,
  • his government's minimizing of the costs of the F-35 Fighter Jets (leaving the public gasping with a $30 billion price tag, compared with the government's estimate of $19 billion)
  • his government's minimizing of the degree to which Canadians care about how their government operates
  • his complete ignoring of the failed opportunity to win a Security Council seat at the United Nations
  • his refusal to acknowledge that the gap between the have's and the have-not's in Canada is growing at an alarming rate...and the list of such minimizing, denials, or even ignoring the depth of the truth could go on and on...
There are all outside the bounds of "political gamesmanship;" individually and collectively, they amount to a
pattern of acting outside the best interests of the people of Canada, and can and should only lead to a rejection of his conservative candidates on May 2.
This is not merely minimizing, it is a form of arrogance and abuse of power to which Canadians must say, "Enough!"

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