Jonathan Brun

6 Facts on Stephen Harper, Prime Minister

Elections are messy business, the truth an ever moving target. Spin, spin, spin. In 2008, Stephen Harper ran on a campaign of 5 promises. His tactic of focusing on only 5 items significantly helped him communicate his message to Canadian voters. With that in mind, I decided to choose 6 important facts about Stephen Harper’s prime ministership and display them on one page, to allow Canadians to make an educated decision on his qualities as Prime Minister of Canada. The facts we chose are:

  1. Abuses Canada’s Parliament,
  2. Foreign Policy Fail,
  3. Wastes your Money,
  4. Hides the Truth,
  5. No Regard for Science, and
  6. Doesn’t defend canadian citizens.

Well, maybe more opinion than fact.

We made an effort to present these items in a tasteful and aesthetic manner, to encourage you to share the site. Far too many progressive sites veer off into crazy town; we wanted to avoid any such image. We are not endorsing any alternative party, we simply encourage you to consider Stephen Harper’s track record and what his re-election might mean for the future of Canada and your children.

The website is now archived… but you can see the content here : Why Harper Sucks, or alternatively, Why Stephen Harper is a bad Prime Minister. Read the facts, get the talking points, and decide on your own. If you agree, please share these points with your friends and family.

Published on March 30, 2011

My presentation at TEDx

As you might know, I am a huge TED fan. I have watched almost every single TED Talk, yes, every one. To be fair, I started watching as soon as it went online and have simply kept up since. So, it was a great challenge and a lot of fun to present at this year’s TEDx Concordia. I only found out about the event after it had been announced, so no 20 minute slots were left, but the amazing organizers were kind enough to give me 5 minutes on stage to present Montréal Ouvert and Open-Data for the city of Montreal. I hope you enjoy the talk and I look forward to being on the real TED stage one day!

Published on March 29, 2011

6 Reasons Harper Government is Bad

1. Abuses Canada’s Parliament

Stephen Harper thinks he’s King of Canada. He has prorogued parliament twice with the sole purpose of deflecting attention away from his government’s failures. Four senior Conservatives were charged with willfully exceeding spending limits in the 2006 campaign. Bev Oda, International Co-operation Minister, altered a document and then denied doing so in testimony before the House. Stephen Harper missed 43% of all votes in the House of Commons. The “integrity” commissioner appointed by Harper received 228 whistleblowing complaints and did not pursue a single one. Harper has muzzled public servants, refused to provide documents to Parliament, and instructed Conservatives to disrupt parliamentary comittees.

In addition, “The Harper Government” was added to official Government of Canada letterhead and a minister used government letterheads to fundraise for the Conservative party. Twitter accounts linked to the Conservative party were also used to announce official government visits.

The Harper regime’s disrespect for established parliamentary procedures and disregard toward election and campaign rules are more radical than Conservative. Canada was respected as a nation with a thoughtful political culture. But, under Harper, Question Period in the House of Commons has become a combative carnival in which MPs and cabinet ministers trade slurs and grandstand for the media — and Canada is now seen as an embarrassing nuisance on the world stage.

Stephen Harper has no respect for the integrity of Canada’s government and political institutions.

2. No Regard for Science

Harper has increased funding for prisons, despite opposition from crimonologists, major religious groups, and social scientists — and ignoring years of research on effective crime-prevention methods. He has not enacted any significant environmental laws, although there is clear scientific consensus surrounding climate change. Instead, Canadians were embarrassed to receive the “Fossil” award for inaction at the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. Harper unilaterally cut the long-form census despite massive opposition from Statistics Canada, the business community, numerous mayors, and all Canadian premiers.

Stephen Harper fired the head nuclear-security watchdog who had raised concerns about the safety of resuming the nuclear reactor in Chalk River, Ontario. The reactor’s primary role is producing radioactive material which is used to treat and diagnose a number of life-threatening illnesses, including cancer and heart disease. It was due to be replaced by two others, construction of which was cancelled by the Harper government. Harper cut the post of National Science Advisor in 2008, removing the most highly placed scientist in the country, and the only scientist with a direct line of communication to the Prime Minister’s Office.

3. Doesn’t Defend Canadian Citizens

The Harper government has devalued the meaning of Canadian citizenhip. The Canadian government has a responsibility to protect its citizens against unlawful actions committed by other countries. A Canadian citizen, Omar Khadr, captured at the age of 15, has been held at the Guantanamo Bay prison (itself a questionable institution under international law) for eight years without fair trial. The Harper government’s refusal to request extradition of Khadr is in violation of his Charter rights. Abousfian Abdelrazik was placed on a no-fly list, refused help from Canada, and handed over to a government known for torture and poor human rights. Who’s to say you couldn’t be next? Children born to Canadian parents abroad no longer have the same access to citizenship they once did. In an age where competition is about attracting the world’s best talent to help build a dynamic and innovative economy, Harper’s government is going out of its way to devalue Canadian citizenship.

4. Foreign Policy Fail

For the first time in Canadian history, we failed in our bid to win a seat on the United Nations Security Council. Harper failed to interact with China in a respectable and cordial manner, undermining our relationship with the second-largest economy in the world. He jettisoned Canada’s historically balanced position in the Middle East, angering key allies and major trading partners. Harper has extended the mission in Afghanistan without consultation from Canadian citizens, most of whom oppose the mission. He ignored decades of Canadian goodwill in Africa by cutting aid to several African countries, including Rwanda, which is still recovering from the genocide of the 1990s. Harper also failed to produce a comprehensive Americas strategy.

Stephen Harper refuses to recognize the evolving globalization of the world, placing Canada in an isolated position that has already damaged our international reputation and will continue to do so.

5. Hides the Truth

In a world where governments are moving towards transparency and openess, Harper is moving into the shadows of secrecy. In spite of promises of transparency and accountability when it first came to power in 2006,  Harper’s government has deliberatedly slowed its responses to access-to-information requests and Canada is lagging far behind other developed economies in developing an open-data policy. While the United States, United Kindgdom, France, and Australia have opened governement information to the public, Harper and the Conservatives have closed the window to government.

Harper hides the truth from Canadians.

6. Wastes your Money

It seems odd that after a decade of Liberal leadership produced surplus after surplus, a supposedly “conservative” government has been spending so liberally!

Our decade of debt reduction? Gone. He squandered our surplus by increasing expeditures on fighter planes, security and prisons, along with reductions in corporate taxes. The conservatives spent over $1.1 billion on security for the G8 summit. Kevin Page, the Parliamentary Budget Officer, estimates the “Truth in Sentencing Law” will cost over $1 billion dollars over five years for prisons that experts say we don’t need.

Harper has reduced already competitive taxes for large corporations by an additional 3%, reducing revenues for government and allocating more money to investors on Bay Street.

Stephen Harper then proceeded to make major cuts to science, arts, and social services to mask his wild spending.

Published on March 13, 2011