An excerpt from the above linked-to article by Nora Loreto follows:
On Friday, Sept. 4, Stephen Harper unveiled his government’s plans to protect the natural environment. The plan focuses on improvements to policies for hunting, fishing and snowmobiling.
The Conservatives will protect and conserve the natural environment by requiring first-time gun owners to take special classes, funding advertising campaigns to attract American tourists to Canada to hunt, fish or snowmobile and creating a program that improves habitats “for species harvested by hunters and trappers.”
The Conservatives would also offer a new kind of hunting permit so that immediate family members can share the same permit when they go out to hunt migratory birds together. And, they would permit the use of crossbows. While legal in most parts of Canada, though subject to various regulations, crossbows aren’t legal in Yukon, the site of the announcement.
After my “Huh?!,” here’s what else I thought, laid out in the comments section attached to the above linked-to article, about Harper’s environmental record:
The only sense in which Harper is protecting the environment is in the sense that he protects it for exploitation, as Donald Gutstein makes clear in “Counter The Environmental Threat To The Market,” the fifth chapter in his very informative book, “Harperism.” In that chapter we learn a great deal, including how the Right, and leaders like Harper, respond to environmental concerns. They see them totally through their neoliberal eyes, which regard all problems as having market solutions or no solutions. Keep in mind that, as Gutstein explains early in his book, neoliberals (choose to) believe in the economy and the marketplace, not democracy. Which doesn’t stop them from lying about that.
Preston Manning is a big promoter, through the Sustainable Prosperity organization he’s part of, of something called Free Market Environmentalism. To get an idea where these people are coming from, consider the fact that “SP has no environmentalists on its board of advisers and none on its research network committee or staff. The organization may say its mandate is to make markets work for the environment, but there are no voices speaking for environmental values within the organization. This task is left to business executives, consultants, economists, and lawyers.” Does that sound a little like Stephen Harper’s government? (page 158 of “Harperism.” – Did you know that Stephen Harper earnestly examined the possibility of re-branding the Canadian government as “The Harper Government”? When I read that, I recalled a recent bit of news about Tajikistan naming a planet after itself. The country does nothing. It’s supreme leader, President Emomali Rahmon, will be behind this PR stunt. – http://bit.ly/1Lj7rqG)
Early on in his book Gutstein explains that to neoliberals, “It’s fair to say they believe in government, but not in democracy.” (page 12) “…Harper has fundamentally modified the relationship between state and society. The theme is simple: we must remove obstacles to the attainment of a state governed not by duly elected officials but by market transactions, because economic freedom is more fundamental than political freedom.” (page 16) Governments will never be dispensed with, for capitalists need them. But they must be captured – and the ‘right’ kind of leaders installed – or the neoliberal project is threatened by those who powerful special interests abuse, namely the people. Often when I’m reading authors like Donald Gutstein, I have to stop and paraphrase to myself their assertions about what our leaders believe. It’s usually what our leaders ‘choose’ to believe.
When Michael Harris asked Linda Keen, the principled, highly professional former chief of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission who Harper threw under the bus for political reasons (and was supported in his assassination by the NDP), afterward, for her thoughts on the Harper government, she noted that “There is no science department in the federal government run by a scientist, not Health, Environment, Natural Resources, Agriculture, or Fisheries and Oceans. That says a lot. A good public service is top-drawer people with good ideas. You risk all that when the new role is ‘give the minister what he wants.'” (page 183 of “Party Of One” by Michael Harris) Indeed, this is gangster corporatocracy and mafia capitalism in action. The rules are mafia rules. Professionals are now those who know how to please those with more power than they possess, who can therefore protect and prosper them if they are inclined – persuaded, with deference and other favors – to do so.
The famous and highly regarded Jeff Hutchings had the crowd gasping when he addressed them and asked why Harper was doing harmful things to science and the country. “His answer was that the Harper government had prioritized economic development “at any cost,”” writes Michael Harris. Here’s the part of Harris’s account that blew me, and Hutchings’s audience, away: “Quoting from a June 14, 2012, letter written by then fisheries minister, Keith Ashfield, Hutchings said that the minister had complained that the existing Fisheries Act offered “few tools to authorize pollution,” but new legislation in Bill C-38 would “establish new tools to authorize deposits of deleterious substances.” The crowd fell silent as Hutchings paused for maximum impact. “In other words, changes to the Fisheries Act will make it easier to authorize the pollution of Canada’s waters…”” (page 160)
What strikes me about all of the revelations and analyses of Harper’s behavior is that certain central facts get talked about only indirectly. Gutstein reports what University of Ottawa political scientist Paul Saurette says about Harper’s restricting the flow of information, which is that StatsCan info, when it’s gathered, can help an infrastructure of organizations to discover inequalities in society and then lobby the government to reduce them. But when the government is staffed by believers in inequality like Stephen Harper, who have partnered with powerful exploiters (mining companies, oil and gas companies etc), that’s exactly what the government does not want. If the government didn’t restrict that flow of info, and if it responded appropriately (from a human rights and pro democracy standpoint) to it and to others’ responses to that info, that would make government more valuable in citizens’ eyes. Rightwing propaganda includes the idea that government is intrinsically evil and only interested in taxing us to death. The fact is that government is only evil when evil people run it, which happens when evil people have captured it. When we succumb to the propaganda, and turn our backs on government, then powerful special interests who have captured governments only tighten their grip on them and use them to… tax us to death (via unfair taxation) and police us, which becomes increasingly necessary the more they and their private sector friends abuse us, forcing us to get rowdy.
I don’t think it ends with ‘Harper is a neoliberal and believes’ what neoliberals believe. What’s at the core of neoliberalism? The answer is ‘inequality’. Harper has modified himself into being a believer in inequality (which still doesn’t mean he fully believe in it). Neoliberalism and democracy are not compatible. Being against democracy includes being against equality. What the people think about things, the people can keep to themselves, especially if it may include thoughts about the appropriateness of governments allowing powerful exploiters to harm them and their communities. That’s behind Harper’s disappearing of the long form census and his pulling off the propaganda coup that has Canadians thinking that their country’s ignorance about itself is good for them and, in fact, a sign of respect for them and their privacy (like Bill C-51?). But when Harper does crap like this, protecting the oil and gas and mining companies by gutting environmental regs and oversight (except when the lakes and rivers are in Conservative ridings) and making it hard for (good intentioned) policy makers in government and outside of government to do their job, Is he helping the economy or is he merely helping powerful special interests?
They aren’t the same thing. In fact, as far as I can tell, Harper’s desire to be a player by pleasing other powerful players, within a neoliberal framework, can’t do anything other than hurt the economy. Neoliberal capitalists have no concept of playing nice. They externalize the costs and privatize the profits, (which won’t do their grandchildren’s children any good). They play nice, they think, with each other (mainly by the moral support they give to each other). They do socialism for their class, but they seek to deny it to the rest of society. As Donald notes about their thinking, “In the neoliberal world, planning equals socialism or centralized control by the market – decisions made by millions of individuals acting in their own self-interest – can get prices and almost everything else right. Of course, the market doesn’t only consist of millions of individuals. Giant multinational corporations also make decisions in their own self-interest, but neo-liberal analysis seems to forget that these large, market-distorting companies exist.” (page 168)
Indeed, Within the corporatocracy’s de-facto governance structure, corporations and the rich are the more important component. Politicians, by and large, serve ‘that’ power, as John Dewey long ago noted when he referred to politics being the shadow cast by big business.
And the war on science (which is not, I’m sorry to report, against God) is also a war on light is also a war against God, who our ‘leaders’, with their incredible acts of destruction (which their policies and decisions are, even if others physically carry them out), daily, call out to God to “Bring it!” And he will.