Tyee staff and contributors have compiled a list of 70 government assaults on democracy and the law. As a list of 70 is pretty difficult for anyone to verify all at once we have been posting a few at a time. To read the entire list at once go to this link.
Harper Government Sued by Justice Department Whistleblower
Time and again the Harper government proposes bills that end up being shot down by the courts, prompting critics to say such legislation is more about making political statements than lasting policy. The wasted efforts bothered senior justice department lawyer Edgar Schmidt so much he finally sued the government for breaking the law by inadequately evaluating whether proposed bills violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. He was promptly suspended without pay.
Conservatives Block Accreditation for Opposition MPs
In another example of partisanship taken to new heights, the PMO blocked opposition members from being accredited for international environment conferences and from visiting military bases.
Tactic Borrowed from North Korea's Dear Leader
Ostensibly neutral public servants were used as stooges, falsely posing as new citizens in a staged Citizenship Renewal public relations exercise by the Immigration Department. Media critics had a field day comparing the charade to practices undertaken by North Korean dictators.
Clampdown on Freedom of Speech of Diplomatic Corps
Ottawa's diplomats must get all communications approved from Conservative political operatives. Under Harper, the country's ambassadors are hardly heard from any more. In a recent speech, former United Nations ambassador Stephen Lewis said our political culture under the Conservatives has descended into "a nadir of indignity."
Marine Science Libraries Decimated
The Harper government's downsizing of federal libraries included sudden closing of seven world famous Department of Fisheries and Oceans archives. A leaked memo revealed the destruction and consolidation would save less than half a million dollars. Scientist patrons of the libraries, who witnessed chaotic chucking of rare literature, called it a "book burning" with no logical purpose other than to restrict environmental information. The Harper government claimed vital works would be digitally preserved, but never provided a plan or cost for doing so, nor any proof it had happened. No scientists interviewed by The Tyee believed digitizing would or could replace what was lost.
UN Blasts Canada's Treatment of Immigrants
Changes made to the Canada's immigration and refugee system under Harper were investigated by the United Nations Human Rights Committee, whose report blasted how thousands of migrants are detained indefinitely without due process, many for over a year or more, as well as poor mental health support for those incarcerated.
Harper Government Denies Khadr Basic Rights
Defying court rulings, the Conservative government refused to accord Omar Khadr basic rights such as access to media. Editorialists of right and left persuasion described the move as unbefitting a democratic government.
Illegitimate Prorogation of Parliament, Twice
Prorogations are a legitimate procedure that can be abused depending on motivations. The Harper government provoked 60 protests across Canada and beyond its borders in 2010 after shutting the legislature's doors to escape condemnation on the Afghan detainees' file. It was the second prorogation in a year's period.
Undue Interference with Independent Agencies
Command and control system was extended to meddling in bodies like National Energy Board and CRTC whose arms-length autonomy is significantly reduced. A special target was the Parliamentary Budget Office, which was hit with condemnations and budget cuts for its critical reports.
Billions Borrowed without Parliament's PermissionThe auditor general sounded alarms about the "prodigious" growth and size of federal borrowing. Those billions in "non-budgetary" spending used to get Parliament's oversight, but no more. The finance minister can borrow what he wants without Parliament's permission. Why? A loophole buried in a 2007 Harper omnibus bill.