An important national political debate

Catharine writes:

I can’t say enough about Irwin Block’s article in the May issue of The Senior Times. It’s title is. “Exposing Harper’s Silencing of Independent Voices” (page 27)

He quotes Mark Bourrie’s new book aptly titled “Kill the Messengers“, documenting the present government’s success in silencing its own experts and limiting debate on major issues.

Almost without our noticing, while economic issues have grabbed our attention, our national policy is being reoriented in radical new directions.Harper’s “New Canada”is supposed to become an “energy and resource superpower”, a “warrior nation” instead of a peacekeeper.

Most worrying, Bourrie’s describes actions of the Harper government to “lobotomize” a large part of our cultural memory by trashing archives, remaking museums, and replacing our “third way” peacemaking diplomacy. At the same time, government scientists and experts are gagged by street rules laid down at the Prime Minister’s Office.  Up until 2007, a reporter could call up a scientist. Now, no one in government speaks without permission.

In the lead-up to the 1980 referendum on Quebec separation, I worked my heart out for the No side. I honestly believed from my previous experience as a speech writer for the Ontario Minister of Education that French would be better protected within Canada as a whole, rather than a weakened and separate Quebec. I still strongly believe that. My cousin’s granddaughter is now teaching in French in Ontario because she, like like countless other Canadians across Canada, loves the language for its own sake, as I have since I first heard it at the age of four.

After the referendum, however, I decided to get right out of politics, and find ways to work with people who honestly held a different view than mine on the language issue, for the benefit of Montreal children.

Now, however, I find it impossible to stay out of this national political debate. It would be so easy for Canadians to continue to go along with Harper, because he has done a respectable job of representing us and keeping us going through very hard economic times, unfortunately at the expense of ignoring environmental and other issues.

I am sure that Neil would be jumping into this debate with both feet. Can’t you just see him posting powerful questions on this blog?

May 12 is the anniversary of his death and the beginning of a new life. I can’t wait to see what he has been up to when I get there myself. In the meantime, I sense his encouragement and love alive in my own heart. What an enormous privilege for me to have shared nearly 40 years with him, during our marriage. More about that later.

In the meantime, I would encourage everyone I know to get involved in the coming federal election, one way or another.

In Mark Bourrie’s book “Silencing the Messenger” he urges concerned Canadians to vote for a party that will reverse the antidemocratic trends he is describing, to become active in groups and on social media. He also advises “Don’t wait for a saviour”. Good advice, and thank you Irwin Block and The Senior Times. This May issue also carries an excellent article about Gloria Menard, and another about the Raging Grannies, headlined “Grannies sweat it out against climate change inaction” (Info.raging grannies


  1. 1
    Jan Morgan Says:

    Excellent blog, Catherine! Andrew Coyne, in Saturday’s Gazette also gives us excellent reasons for working hard to replace Harper’s Conservatives next fall. It’s good to see you carrying on – and updating – Neil’s work.

  2. 2
    Joanne Says:

    Messing with the archives, retelling Canada’s historical narrative, making us into a warrior nation when that is not our most recent tradition, muzzling scientists and removing funding from those who have a different perspective is most pointedly unCanadian. Hopefully people realize this and opt for a change from this secretive and destructive government in October.

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