A few years ago, national newspapers reported that Prime Minister Stephen Harper, in an address to an ultra-conservative group in the U.S., ended with the now famous line — “You won’t recognize Canada when I get through with it.”
Here are some of Harper’s best efforts in 2012 to change the face of this country.
* Harper approved the sale of Nexen to CNOOC, a state-owned Chinese company, and to make matters worse, the Conservatives secretly negotiated the Canada-China FIPA treaty giving China increased access to our strategic natural resources.
* During the last election campaign, Harper said the F-35s would only set Canadians back $9 billion and now the parliamentary budget officer, the auditor general and accounting firm KPMG are saying the bill is more like $44 million.
* Recent court documents reveal that Elections Canada pointed the finger directly at the Conservative party during the ongoing investigation into voter suppression in the 2011 federal election.
* Harper’s second monster budget bill dismantled environmental reviews, gutted the Fisheries Act, eliminated wildlife habitat protection, repealed the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act, reduced the powers of the auditor general, dissolved the Public Appointments Commission meant to fight patronage, and restricted food safety inspections. Thousands of lakes and rivers are not covered anymore by the Navigable Waters Protection Act, the Environmental Assessment Act has been shredded, and fish habitat protection disappeared from the Fisheries Act.
* To an audience of billionaires in Davos, Switzerland, Harper announced his plan to raise the age of eligibility for Old Age Security from 65 to 67 which, according to the auditor general, takes $10 billion a year from the pockets of Canada’s poorest seniors when implemented.
* Harper’s cuts to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency were followed by the largest meat recall in Canadian history.
* Harper’s cuts to Employment Insurance benefits and rule changes mean fewer Canadians qualify for fewer benefits.
* Harper’s heartless refugee health-care cuts left some of neediest members of our communities behind and the provinces holding the bag.
These and other regressive steps taken by Prime Minister Harper in 2012 resulted in less Canadian resource ownership and less control over our economy, less government transparency, accountability and honesty, less for seniors, less democracy, less caring and compassion and less protection for our air and water.
My resolution for 2013 is to more vigorously promote a fairer, more hopeful, and more loving country. How about you?