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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Students from SD62 stepped up to help members in the community with the annual 10,000 Tonight food drive. This year’s organizers had to adapt during the campaign as COIVD-19 public health orders changed. (Black Press Media file photo)
West Shore students step up to make sure community members don’t go without

Students of SD62 are this year’s recipient of the Youth Volunteer Award

A cat died in this house fire in Sidney afternoon. The fire started on the house’s deck and spread from that point. Sidney Volunteer Fire Department Chief Brett Mikkelsen said the permanent presence of crews at the Community Safety Building prevented worse damage. (Photo courtesy of Clayton Firth)
Sidney house fire kills cat, causes extensive damage

Official says fire started on deck and damage to the house could have been worse

Millstream Village is welcoming a new Marshalls location March 9. (Photo courtesy GWL Realty Advisors)
New Marshalls store in Langford brings boost to women in need

Retailer will hold opening ceremony in Millstream Village March 9

Abstract Developments is donating $75,000 to support community programming at The Cridge Centre for the Family. (Courtesy of The Cridge Centre)
Victoria developer builds support for community programs

Abstract Developments donates $75,000 to The Cridge Centre for the Family

SD 62 (Sooke) has announced a COVID-19 exposure at David Cameron Elementary in Colwood. Potential exposure dates are Monday, Feb. 22; Tuesday, Feb. 23; and Wednesday, Feb. 24. (Black Press Media File).
COVID-19 exposure at Colwood’s David Cameron Elementary

Potential exposure dates are Monday, Feb. 22; Tuesday, Feb. 23; and Wednesday, Feb. 24.

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. The federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate, start with the vaccination of police officers in internal police vaccination centers. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
B.C. officials to unveil new details of COVID vaccination plan Monday

Seniors and health-care workers who haven’t gotten their shot are next on the list

A boat caught fire in Ladysmith Harbour on Saturday morning. (Photo submitted)
Search underway for missing woman after boat catches fire in Ladysmith harbour

A large boat caught fire on the morning of Saturday, Feb. 27

Lone orca from a pod that made its way north from Georgia Strait and into Discovery Passage on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. Photo by Ella Smiley/<a href="https://www.facebook.com/Comoxvalleywildlifesightings/?ref=page_internal" target="_blank">Comox Valley Wildlife Sightings </a>
Island wildlife viewers thrilled by close view of passing Orca pod

Group gives wildlife photographers a classic opportunity to view them off Campbell River shoreline

An investigation is underway after a man was shot and killed by Tofino RCMP in Opitsaht. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man shot and killed by RCMP near Tofino, police watchdog investigating

Investigation underway by Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia.

B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Tuesday December 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s compromise on in-person worship at three churches called ‘absolutely unacceptable’

Would allow outdoor services of 25 or less by Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack churches

Baldy Mountain Resort was shut down on Saturday after a fatal workplace accident. (Baldy Mountain picture)
Jasmine and Gwen Donaldson are part of the CAT team working to reduce stigma for marginalized groups in Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Jasmine’s story: Stigma can be the hardest hurdle for those overcoming addiction

Recovering B.C. addict says welcome, connection and community key for rebuilding after drug habit

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Most Read