Stephen Harper rapped for wrong reasons

Prime Minister has plenty to answer for, but wild claims about wrecking the environment and destroying libraries aren't among them

Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks at Conservative party event in Mill Bay on Vancouver Island Jan. 7.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks at Conservative party event in Mill Bay on Vancouver Island Jan. 7.

VICTORIA – Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s latest visit to B.C. was portrayed as these things are today: besieged by protesters, hiding from an ever-vigilant media, cynically campaigning for the 2015 federal election.

TV couldn’t get enough of the two “environmental activists” who dressed as waiters to slip onstage at a business breakfast in Vancouver.

They’re not environmentalists, just all-purpose protesters using the flavour of the month. They are associated with a group calling itself “No One Is Illegal,” a collection of anarchist kooks that wants to do away with national borders, and of course capitalism.

As their now-famous sign said, they want “climate justice now.” Organizer Brigette DePape explained to a co-operative CBC TV host that the recent typhoon in the Philippines that killed thousands of people was caused by global warming, which of course is caused mainly by the Alberta “tar sands.”

I won’t dwell on this routine idiocy, except to say the number of hurricanes that struck North America in 2013 was zero, and that hasn’t happened since 1994. Also, “climate justice” is like “social justice,” in that both require confiscation of earned wealth.

DePape is the former Senate page fired in 2011 for a similar sign stunt. She’s now a professional Harper hater, with support from the U.S.-based Tides Foundation among others.

One of the issues Harper didn’t take questions on was the consolidation of 11 federal fisheries libraries into two, one of them in Sidney, B.C.

This is portrayed as part of Harper’s so-called “war on science,” and has been compared with the Romans burning the library of Alexandria in ancient Egypt.

Fisheries Minister Gail Shea defended the cost-cutting measure by pointing out that almost all access to these libraries is now digital, so maintaining 11 duplicated sets of printed reports is a waste of taxpayer dollars.

An anonymous federal scientist fired back on his blog that the head of one of these libraries retired before the contents could even be catalogued, much less completely digitized for online access.

So this material wasn’t even properly organized? Users were supposed to browse until they stumbled on something pertinent?

The ministry reported that the average number of people other than federal fisheries staff who used these libraries averaged between five and 12 per year. That’s for all 11 facilities combined. And if anyone has even one example of information that was available and isn’t now, they should identify it.

Harper’s got plenty to answer for, no question. To take one of many examples, spending our borrowed money on TV ads for a “Canada Job Grant” program that hasn’t even been introduced in Parliament, much less set up, isn’t just wasteful. It’s dishonest and cruelly misleading to the unemployed people the ads pretend to offer help.

CBC reported this week that $2.5 million was spent on this bogus ad campaign before it was pulled off the air a few months ago.

Harper’s visit to B.C. added a couple of scripted events, starting with softball questions at the Vancouver business breakfast. Then he was off to a photo op at the Kinsol trestle on Vancouver Island, where he announced three more years of funding for the Trans-Canada Trail.

I’m as relieved as anyone that Harper is not killing this modest federal project that started in 1992, but this is not news. It was a fake public event to justify the cost of a trip so Harper could address a new Conservative riding association.

And how is the federal deficit after eight years of tight-fisted Conservative rule? We’re only borrowing about $1 billion a month now, down from the Harper government all-time record deficit of $55 billion in 2009.

Some cost cutting is in order all right.

Tom Fletcher is legislature reporter and columnist for Black Press.

Just Posted

The pilot of this single-engine propeller plane was unhurt after crash-landing in a Como Road orchard Friday, June 18. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Plane crash lands into Grand Forks orchard, pilot injured

RCMP have secured the crash site, pending investigation by Transport Canada

Author John Vaillant joins Lisa Moore and Fred Wah for Elephant Mountain Literary Festival’s Alumni Reading on Friday, July 9. All three authors were featured at the inaugural festival in 2012. Photo: Submitted
FESTIVAL TALES: When 2012 meets 2021

The Elephant Mountain Literary Festival will include authors from the event’s inaugural year

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interior Health COVID-19 cases falling slower than the rest of B.C.

More than a third of provincial cases announced Thursday came from the Interior

J. L. Crowe Secondary will host the convocation for 2021 Graduates on Saturday starting at 9 a.m. Photo: Jim Bailey
Convocation goes Saturday with Kootenay Columbia grads in learning groups, no parents

Parents can live-stream the ceremony of their 2021 graduates online

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

John Furlong told the Vancouver Board of Trade on Feb. 20, 2020 that he thinks the city could and should bid for the 2030 Winter Games. (CP photo)
PODCAST: John Furlong lays out a ‘provincial’ plan to host the 2030 Winter Olympics

Podcast: Chat includes potential role for Vancouver Island communities

A tenant walks in front of her home on Boundary Road on Friday, June 18, 2021 after it was destroyed by fire the night before in Chilliwack. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Family homeless after fire rips through Chilliwack house

Turtle rescued, no one seriously hurt following Boundary Road fire in Chilliwack

BC Ferries’ newest Island Class vessel is experiencing an issue with one of its thrusters off the Algerian coast. Photo courtesy patbaywebcam.com.
BC Ferries newest vessel having mechanical issues in Mediterranean

Island 4 will be repaired in Spain before crossing Atlantic

Wild rabbits are all over Chilliwack, but people often think they’re someone’s lost pet and try to ‘save’ them. But the owner of Chilliwack’s Reptile Room says good intentions can have bad consequences for wild animals. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Owner of Chilliwack’s Reptile Room asks people to leave wild animals in the wild

Amber Quiring says people who think they’re helping are actually doing more harm than good

Thousands of protesters make their way through the downtown core during a Black Lives Matter protest in Ottawa, Friday June 5, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
MPs’ study of systemic racism in policing concludes RCMP needs new model

Chair of the House public safety committee says it’s time for a reckoning on ‘quasi-military’ structure

A case filled with packages of boneless chicken breasts is shown in a grocery store Sunday, May 10, 2020, in southeast Denver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-David Zalubowski
One million chickens euthanized during labour dispute at Quebec slaughterhouse

Premier says waste amounts to 13 per cent of the province’s chicken production thrown in the garbage

Premier of Manitoba Brian Pallister speaks at a news conference at the Manitoba Legislative Building in Winnipeg on Wednesday, April 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/David Lipnowski
Provincial leaders want more federal money for health care, plan to meet in fall

Premiers ask Ottawa to increase its share of overall health spending to 35 per cent from 22 per cent

A section of the eastern slopes of the Canadian Rockies is seen west of Cochrane, Alta., Thursday, June 17, 2021. A joint federal-provincial review has denied an application for an open-pit coal mine in Alberta’s Rocky Mountains, saying its impacts on the environment and Indigenous rights aren’t worth the economic benefits it would bring. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Panel says Grassy Mountain coal mine in Alberta Rockies not in public interest

Public hearings on the project in southern Alberta’s Crowsnest Pass region were held last fall

Most Read