Added: January 18, 2008 Category: News & Politics
Title: Holy Obscuration and Obstruction, Batman !
Discussion on the Stephen Harper regressive, conservative right
wing ideology of "Obscure and Obstruct" in the curtailment of
access to information and its impact on our civil and human
rights; and, the suggestion that Stephane Dion pick up the torch of
‘freedom of information’, incorporating its entrenchment
amongst our fundamental rights and freedoms as a central principle of
the Liberal Party. Or, perhaps Elizabeth May and the Green Party
might answer the Pipes' call. And, an update on "Great Covens of
Right Wing Idealogues".
© Lloyd MacIlquham, all rights reserved, 18 January, 2008
Canada Canadian economy economic Taxes budget GST human rights
civil rights access to information Canadian Charter of Rights election Stéphane Dion Liberal Conservative Stephen Harper Jim Flaherty Elizabeth May
Tags: Harper Flaherty Conservative budget Canada election taxes economy Global Warming Dion May political news
© Lloyd MacIlquham, all rights reserved, 10 December, 2007,
Lloyd MacIlquham, B.Sc., M.Sc., J.D.
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On the Harper regressive, conservative right wing ideology of "Obscure and Obstruct" in the curtailment of access to information and its impact on our civil and human rights;
and, the suggestion that Stephane Dion pick up the torch of ‘freedom of information’,
incorporating its entrenchment amongst our fundamental rights and freedoms as a central principle of the Liberal Party. And, an update on "Great Covens of Right Wing Idealogues".
Meanwhile, back at the Batcave
Batman and Robin have become aware of an issue central
to very foundations of our democracy as we know it. But first, . . .
Batman: I see that the Harper government, just as we have discussed, Robin, in our last two readings, is refusing to assist a sector of our society that requires assistance.
Robin: I see that the Harper government, just as we have discussed, Robin, in our last two readings, is refusing to assist a sector of our society that requires assistance.
Batman: Apparently so, Robin. Jim Flaherty, in explaining why the Harper government would not come to the aid of The Ford Motor Company in Windsor, is quoted as saying “quite frankly, politicians aren't very good at picking business winners and losers" (G&M, 16 Jan.’08, “No bailout for Ford, Flaherty says”).
Robin: Great Covens of Right Wing Idealogues, Batman, that’s outrageous. Surely Flaherty is speaking for himself. Ford Motors is one of the most successful companies the world has ever seen and, in fact, a leader in the modern industrial age.
Ford has certainly and will certainly make immeasurably greater contribution to our lives and economy than Flaherty & Harper ever have or will. How many hundreds of thousands of people, perhaps millions, in Canada have derived their livelihood directly or indirectly from the Ford Motor Company.
Batman: I agree, Robin, and it seems others do as well. Canadian Auto Workers union president Buzz Hargrove is quoted as saying "This is a big slap in the face to the auto industry, but also to Ontario". "The message is, 'too bad, you hang on, on your own, or you're gone.' "
Robin: How can Harper take such a sink or swim attitude, especially since he was supported by such a small minority in the last election. Where are our traditions, our sense of history and pride in what Canadian have built up over the many years.
Batman: Well, Robin, the Conservative party has a very short history with very little tradition. After all, it is not the Progressive Conservative Party, which has a long and proud history, one that is very much identified with Canada as a nation.
However, to the Batcave, Robin, something has come to my attention that threatens the very foundation of our free and democratic society. Something that is very subtle and insidious, Robin, which without our continual vigilance and that of every Canadian could very well lead to the curtailment of our civil liberties and human rights.
Great Scott, Batman, don't tell me they're selling the
Toronto Maple Leafs?
Batman: No, Robin, we don't have to fear that, yet, anyway.
Robin: Then, they're increasing the tax on beer. That's dastardly, Batman!
Beer and hockey, both great Canadian traditions, Robin,
Robin: what could it be, Batman?
Puzzle me this, Robin. What is as common as the daily
news, as reclusive as a Kremlin, as important as any University or
library and as useful as any tool ever made by man.
Robin: Not the Joker, again, Batman!
That's 'Riddler', Robin, and no.
Robin: I'm stuck, Batman, give me a hint.
Batman: What common thread do all these have. What is freely and opening displayed every day in the news that we wouldn't find in a repressive political regime, that is readily accessible from all our Universities and libraries and we use to our great benefit.
Holy pecuniosity, Batman, you don`t mean "money"?
Batman: Wrong again, Robin. "Pecuniosity", Robin? We're going to have to have a long talk.
Robin: I give up, Batman, what is it?
Batman: "Information", Robin.
Holy satori, Batman, I see! But, why the concern, certainly we live in an open society, where information is readily available, where civil liberties and human rights flourish and
Batman: Well, Robin, it appears our society is not as open as we would like to think.
How so, Batman?
Batman: There have been recent reports that the Harper government is obstructing the dissemination of information regarding its activities, and obscuring the process for accessing it.
Holy general patterns, Batman, didn`t we see an "Obstruct
and Obscure" strategy by Harper and his government last time when
we were discussing his policies on Global Warming and our economy.
Batman: Recent reports in the news
("Government stymying efforts to obtain info, commissioner failing to help: critic", Alison Auld, The Canadian Press, 5 Jan.'08) indicate that the response time for Access To Information Requests has increased dramatically from 30 to 60 days a couple of years ago to 150 or even 250 days over the last several months.
Holy Incidiosity, Batman, its certainly not "shock and awe".
Batman: "Incidiosity" ... ah, never mind ... Apparently, this is due to Stephen Harper introducing so many layers of scrutiny.
Michel Drapeau, a retired colonel and expert in access to information legislation is quoted as saying "The intent is to
frustrate efforts ... and ultimately you're going to go away,".
Robin: But, Batman, perhaps that's an isolated case.
Batman: Oh, there's more, Robin, clearly showing a general trend. We all should be very concerned. The article goes on to state: "Donald Savoie, chair of public administration at the Universite de Moncton, said the delays are part of a broad strategy to control what information gets out and protect material that could prove damaging."
But, Batman, perhaps there have been such huge delays
since before Harper took office?
Batman: Apparently not, Robin. The article further states that: "Donald Savoie, chair of public administration at the Universite de Moncton, said
the delays are part of a broad strategy to control what information gets out and protect material that could prove damaging."
Also, the G&M, in October, published an article entitled "Conservatives tightening tap on flow of information, figures show" which stated:
"Figures obtained by The Globe and Mail reveal the government is slower to respond to requests filed under the Access to Information Act, and that more information is censored
when documents are finally released."
When Mr.Savoier was asked whether it was worse today than it was he stated "Yes, absolutely".
He gave specific examples, e.g., the Afghan detainees scandal that we are so familiar with, no thanks
to Harper, of course. The Press is complaining that the delays are long and often they documents are blacked out.
In an article from last October by Bruce Cheadle, The Canadian Press "Anatomy of an Access To Information release:
'talking points' blacked out", the exampled of the talking points of one of the ministers of the Harper
government being heavily censored.
Robin: Holy paranoia, Batman, aren't the talking points notes drafted for a minister for public consumption.
Yes, Robin, that's my understanding, too.
Robin: Then, Batman, why would the Harper government want to censor them, and under what exception could they possibly fall to even make the censorship legal.
Batman: Good question, Robin.
But, how can Harper cause such delays, Batman.
Batman: Well, Robin, for one, it appears that now most access to information requests are reviewed by the Privy Council Office
(whose role is to "provides essential advice and support to the Prime Minister and Cabinet" and their "goal is to help the
Government of Canada serve Canada and Canadians") and multiple
departments now must be consulted with.
Robin: Holy breach of trust, Batman,
didn't Harper make increased transparency a central policy in the last Federal election. How can this
be called increased transparency?
Batman: Yes he did, Robin, as everyone can remember. It worse though, Robin.
Harper promised to amend the Access to Information Act to increase transparency, but has failed to so do. Also, Harper has severely curtailed access by the media as well as Reports such as the one submitted by his then newly appointed advisor to the Middle-East. Stephane Dion is demanding it, apparently questioning if it indeed exists.
Holy black eye on Democracy, Batman. Isn`t it true that the existence of liberal and comprehensive rights to access
information, available to all unobstructed and vigilantly
exercised, is a cornerstone of modern, open and free, democracy.
Batman: That`s certainly at the core of my beliefs, Robin.
And, Batman, doesn`t it protect all from a closed,
secretive government intent on using the powers entrusted to them
for their self interest and interests contrary to the will of the people.
Batman: I agree again, Robin.
And, Batman, doesn`t access to information affords the stuff whereby the individual may forge both sword and shield to uphold human rights, without which no amount legislation can guaranty these rights.
Batman: Once again your reasoning is impeccable, Robin.
And shouldn`t we be ensuring these rights by placing them on the same footing as civil and human rights.
Batman: That`s something that we should surely be doing, Robin, and with great haste.
Robin: Well, Batman, can we say that the limits imposed by Harper are “demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society”.
No, Robin, I can’t say any such thing. In fact it appears that the Harper government is going in the opposite direction.
Robin: How so, Batman.
Batman: Instead of enshrining the right to access to information
Harper seems to be obstructing our access to information and obscuring the
information that is being released.
Robin: Holy regressive-conservative, right wing ideology, Batman, what can we do.
Batman: I don`t know, Robin.
Perhaps Stephane Dion will pick up the torch of freedom of information and incorporate it as a central principle of
the Liberal Party. But what I do knows is we’ve got to get our Canada back, Robin, before its too late.
© Lloyd MacIlquham, all rights reserved, 8 January, 2008-01-17