Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 7/2/2015 (2170 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Cindy Blackstock wondered why federal officials threatened to cancel a meeting on the well-being of aboriginal children if she attended.

What she found out shocked her.

Bureaucrats in the Justice and Aboriginal Affairs departments -- 189 of them -- had been following every aspect of her professional and personal life on Facebook and Twitter, making sarcastic comments throughout 2,500 pages of emails and other documents to each other.

Is Blackstock a potential terrorist, assassin or suicide bomber?

No. She is the executive director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society. She has pressed the federal government to provide the same educational funding for students in First Nations communities as those living in cities.

That makes her an "enemy" and one of the many message-bearers being "killed," author Mark Bourrie says in this chilling indictment of the prime minister, his supporters and the Canadians who have let it happen.

Bourrie has won a National Magazine Award for his journalism, which includes hundreds of pieces for major magazines and newspapers. He lectures at Carleton University, the University of Ottawa and the Department of National Defence School of Public Affairs. His first book, The Fog of War: Censorship of Canada's Media in World War Two, was a Maclean's bestseller.

Bourrie systematically ticks off Harper's milestones in achieving his agenda of complete control.

The mainstream media were labelled the "lamestream" media by attack-dog bloggers used to reinforce the Conservative base. Harper dodges or goes over the heads of the parliamentary press gallery, establishing his own TV channel (which, thankfully, no one watches) and almost establishing his own press theatre to supplant the one operated by the gallery.

Conservatives promised to restore Parliament to its former glory -- as though it had one. In power, they have been just as contemptuous as their predecessors, forcing closure on almost all bills and giving them Orwellian names such as the Fair Elections Act, which is no such thing.

When opposition parties threatened a non-confidence vote to topple the government, Harper called it a "coup d'état" and shut down Parliament.

Conservatives promised to protect whistleblowers in the civil service and appoint new, official watchdogs.

In power, they appointed and then fired their parliamentary budget officer and veterans' ombudsman for doing their jobs only too well. On the other hand, they were forced to sack the watchdog to protect whistleblowers because she was going after whistleblowers in her own office.

Federal scientists, who have valuable information to share gathered at public expense, have been muzzled or fired.

The long-form census, which went back to New France, was scrapped, and no one has ever explained why.

Conservatives promised to limit federal spending on advertising. In power, they have spent money on year-long campaigns to sell policies through feel-good TV ads that contain no actual information, but frame everything in the party's Tory blue.

The so-called Fair Elections Act is part of Harper's plan to render Elections Canada powerless to regulate political parties, Bourrie maintains.

Without an independent election watchdog, political parties can carry out dirty tricks such as robocalls and other vote-suppression techniques without fear of being caught and penalized.

Bourrie correctly identifies the most dangerous precedents Harper has set: Trying to appoint an unqualified judge to the Supreme Court; trying to change the law to make his illegal appointment legal; and publicly rebuking the chief justice of the Supreme Court for trying to tell him he was wrong.

"There's no point having a free press, functioning Parliament, independent parliamentary watchdogs, unfettered scientists and an end to government propaganda campaigns unless we have free elections and courts that have the power to roll back tyranny," Bourrie pleads.

"If we lose those, it's all over. They won't be coming back."

True Canadian conservatives support Parliament and democratic traditions. Bourrie is so convinced of the undemocratic tendencies of Harper, that he twice uses the label "fascism" to describe his true ideology.

Readers will decide for themselves if Bourrie has overreached, or is accurately depicting Canada's emperor/prime minister as having no democratic clothes.

After all, there's always the next election.

Isn't there?

 

Donald Benham is director of hunger and poverty awareness at Winnipeg Harvest. He has worked as a journalist and as political staff on Parliament Hill.