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April 7, 2011

Harper: What's in a name?

Reuel S. Amdur

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Recently, in what one hopes are the dying days of the present régime, shortly before the election writ was dropped official Ottawa ordered its servants to refer to "the Harper government" in all government communications. This kind of hucksterism is a hallmark of Stephen Harper and his Madison Avenue North minions.

Previously, back in 2006, the imposed mantra was “Canada’s New Government.”  As Vanessa Nelson, Executive Advisor, Communications Branch, National Resources Canada, explained to her peons, “As per the Minister’s Office, effectively immediately, the words ‘Canada’s New Government’ are to be used instead of ‘the Government of Canada’ in all departmental correspondence.  Please note that the initial letters of all three words are to be capitalized.” 

Well, let’s go with the new edict and call it the Harper Government.  However, we need to add some modifiers.  Let me explain.  Remember the Harper Government’s booklet for Tory MP’s on how to disrupt committee meetings? Quite likely it was a trick in the booklet which was illustrated by government House leader John Baird.  Baird showed up at a Parliamentary committee of which he was not a member and did a Joe McCarthy.  “Point of order, Mr. Chairman.  Point of order, Mr. Chairman.  Point of order, Mr.Chairman, on and on.”  He succeeded in shutting the meeting down.  Nice work, John.

Then came the Harper government stonewalling on the costs of new fighter jets and new prisons, leading to its designation as being in contempt of Parliament.  The Speaker of the House referred the matter to the House for consideration, and the House found that the government was in contempt of Parliament.  This was a first not only for Canada but for the entire Commonwealth.

Consider also Bev Oda, Minister of International Cooperation in the Harper Government.  Her crime was forgery, fraudulently inserting “not” into a document signed by someone else.  She then tried to stonewall Parliament about what she had done, before finally being forced to confess to her transgression.  She was only saved from being found in contempt of Parliament by dissolution. 

As I said before, “the Harper Government” is fine, but it just needs the appropriate modifiers: the fraudulent, contemptible Harper government. 

The United States had its Tricky Dick Nixon.  Canada is blessed with Sneaky Steve.

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