The Harper Sin List


(aka Stephen Harper’s Résumé)

Our list, see below, was first compiled in early 2013. Even then it was just part of the story. By the fall of 2015, it’s a tiny part indeed. The actual complete detailed list is so extensive, it probably numbers in the thousands and may never be documented.

The most complete and important account of all is the nearly 500-page Party of One by Michael Harris. View his account of writing the book here (video, 11+ minutes).

And check this list of about seventy science-specific items compiled by science librarian, John Dupuis. As with our list, this is only part of what was to come in the attacks on science. — The Canadian War on Science: A long, unexaggerated, devastating chronological indictment, May 20, 2013

A newer excellent list is Harper, Serial Abuser of Power: The Evidence Compiled by David Beers and staff at the Tyee, August 10, 2015. It documents 70 Harper government assaults on democracy and the law.

Really must stop this list of lists, but just can’t leave out Blue Rodeo’s rock’n’roll lament, Stealin’ All My Dreams, with Harper’s sins flashed from the video. Please don’t miss scrolling down past the video for a long list in print with links galore.

Finally here is our effort:

The Harper Sin List courtesy of CUSP
Closing in on 60 Harper government outrages and counting

First published April 2013 with 52 items; last updated Octpber 1, 2015.

  1. Withdrew Canada from the Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (also known as the Kyoto Accord), December 15th, 2012. The move was revealed rather furtively on the Foreign Affairs website.
  2. Withdrew Canada from the UN Convention to Combat Desertification in March, 2013.
  3. Shuttered the Experimental Lakes Area, March 31st, 2013. It was the only facility in the world for whole-lake freshwater research. Irreplaceable decades-long research projects were threatened with total loss. There was an apparent deliberate attempt to cut off knowledge of chemical hazards to our lakes and rivers. Upkeep was inexpensive, so the closing was unjustifiable as a savings measure. Note: huge pressure from opponents, both nationally and internationally, as well as funding from Manitoba and Ontario have helped ELA continue, though not as robustly as before.
  4. Killed the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, March 31st, 2013. It was a respected body for wise policy formulation.
  5. Killed the Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory (PEARL) in Nunavut, April 30th, 2013. It had been tracking ozone depletion, air quality and climate change in the High Arctic since 2005. Note: there was an announcement of resumed funding, May 2013, apparently following extensive pressure on the government.
  6. Killed the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration (PFRA) originally set up as a result of the Great Depression and Dust Bowl of the 1930s. This is at a time when droughts are again threatening. The result is a huge loss of accumulated expertise on soil and water conservation and sustainable farming practices. This was legislated at part of omnibus bill C-38 in 2012.
  7. Killed the Canadian Wheat Board as sole buyer for prairie grains, an agency that had long protected prairie farmers from the excesses of corporate profiteers, cutting staff to a quarter of what it was, and without the previously promised plebiscite, August 1, 2012.
  8. Slashed funding to the Canadian Grain Commission, so that farmers must now pay much higher user fees. This was part of Bill C-45, 2012.
  9. Killed the Court Challenges Program in January 2006. This had helped fund individuals and citizen groups trying to receive constitutional protections. It was partially restored, but only for cases involving minority language rights.
  10. Closed 12 of 16 Status of Women offices, April 1, 2006.
  11. Killed the Health Council of Canada, first announced April 2013. It had been monitoring and measuring progress toward ensuring the health care system is able to meet the needs of Canadians
  12. Shut the First Nations Statistical Institute in 2013. This was a Crown corporation for compiling accurate data about Aboriginal Peoples.
  13. Scrapped the National Council on Welfare in 2012. It had been the Federal Government Advisory Body on poverty.
  14. Closed the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Science, March 31, 2013. This was a body supporting research into Arctic climate and ozone depletion, air quality, severe weather and conditions of oceans.
  15. Slashed the budget of Library and Archives Canada, May 2012. Closed 16 government libraries 2012-2015.
  16. Scrapped the mandatory Long Form Census in 2012, thus robbing many social agencies of vital information. The results:
    • One fifth of Canada’s recognized communities are now statistical dead zones. Statistically, they don’t exist, making it difficult for municipalities to prioritize initiatives.
    • Statistics Canada can no longer supply reliable data, since the response rate to the new voluntary National Household Survey was a statistically unreliable 69% compared to the former Long Form Census rate of 94%.
    • Four key longitudinal studies were eliminated. They had been tracking health, youth, income and employment from as far back as the 1970s.
  17. Release of Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) data has gone from 40% in 2000 to 21% in 2014.
  18. Changed privacy laws without allowing advice from the privacy commissioner; permitted harsher controls of public service workers; retroactively exempted deliberate illegal government actions in 2012 that speedily deleted gun registry data without proper oversight. All this was tucked inside Omnibus Budget Bill C-59, spring 2015.
  19. The Canada Revenue Agency was ordered to destroy all text-message records, potentially covering up evidence of a crackdown on charities opposed to government policies.
  20. As actual information vanishes, it is replaced by mythologizing historical narratives, e.g., celebrating the Franklin expedition while closing Arctic monitoring stations, celebrating the War of 1812 at a cost of $28 million while closing veterans service offices.
  21. Scrapped the Kelowna Accord in 2006. It had promised improved conditions for First Nations.
  22. Chronic underfunding of health, education, and social services for Aboriginal Canadians continues while the Harper government promotes culturally insensitive solutions based on Conservative ideology.
  23. Muzzling of scientists, librarians, diplomats and other civil servants continues. No information is released if it could lead to uncomfortable facts about Harper’s fiction-based policies. Two examples from many:
    • Canadian diplomat, Richard Colvin was silenced in 2009 in order to suppress evidence that Canadian Forces handed Afghan detainees over to torture.
    • Geneticist, Dr. Kristi Miller was prevented in 2011 from speaking about her groundbreaking research into salmon parvovirus transmission, apparently because of fears it would damage the reputation of the aquaculture industry in British Columbia.
  24. The Harper government fired or forced resignations of, or destroyed the reputations of dedicated public servants who were working to protect the interests of Canadians. One example is Linda Keen, Chair of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, who was fired on January 15th, 2008, for opposing the restarting the Chalk River nuclear reactor before it was repaired.
  25. Over the Harper years it has become routine to use giant omnibus bills (e.g., C-38 & C-45 in 2012) to push through legislation while severely limiting debate, with the effect of hiding massive changes to legislation on vital issues.
  26. The complete, long-standing Environmental Protection Act was repealed within omnibus bill C-38 in 2012, effective December 5 of that year.
  27. The similarly long-standing Navigable Waters Protection Act was repealed within omnibus bill C-45 in 2012, effective April 4, 2013.
  28. Increased resources were allocated to the Canada Revenue Agency in 2012 to investigate the political activity of not-for-profit and charitable organizations, meanwhile providing insufficient resources to recover unpaid taxes from hidden offshore investments.
  29. Health care coverage for refugees was slashed, June 12, 2012, leaving many in life-threatening situations. Some were saved by voluntary intervention of doctors, individuals or non-federal jurisdictions.
  30. Massive job cuts have been implemented across all departments. A study by David Macdonald of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, released April 2013, reveals the following highlights in projected losses of full time equivalent jobs from 2012 to 2016:
         Human Resources and Skills Development Canada: losing 5,716 or 24%
                                     Statistics Canada: losing 2,230 or 35%
                        Correctional Service of Canada: losing 2,208 or 11%
                       Canadian Food Inspection Agency: losing 1,407 or 20%
                           Fisheries and Oceans Canada: losing 1,164 or 10%
    Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada: losing 1,094 or 20%
                           Library and Archives Canada: losing   255 or 23%
              Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency: losing    82 or 34%
         Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency: losing    51 or 49%
                 Office of the Chief Electoral Officer: losing    48 or  9%
                Canadian Security Intelligence Service: losing     0
                  Public Prosecution Service of Canada: losing     0

    Note, these figures do not include losses prior to 2012. They also don’t show the rise of outsourcing– yet another outrage.

  31. The CBC budget was cut by $115 million with 650 job losses, April 4, 2012, with more to come.
  32. Closure of Canadian Coast Guard Search and Rescue stations, in St John’s Newfoundland, May 2012 and Kitsilano, B.C., February 19, 2013, with planned closure of several more, as well as marine traffic monitoring centres on the east and west coasts
  33. Cut the budget and staff (see numbers above) of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency leading to lax inspection of slaughter facilities and infectious bacteria being released to consumers in meat products.
  34. Forced budget legislation to pass without releasing financial information for scrutiny by MPs, accomplishing this by tightly controlling Conservative MPs through baffling (to most of us) methods of “team” psychology.
  35. Withheld information from, attempted to trash the reputation of, and failed to rehire Parliamentary Budget Officer, Kevin Page, whose work had been shown to be exemplary and entirely accurate. His job ended March 31, 2013.
  36. Secret negotiations of free trade agreements, are ongoing, for example FIPA with China, signed September 8, 2012, CETA with Europe, and TPP with Pacific Rim nations – without consultations with Canadians or proper debate in Parliament. These treaties would severely limit the ability of cities to ‘buy local’ and for the federal and provincial governments to enact environmental protection.
  37. Harper gained unfair advantage from fraudulent robocalls and reported improper funding schemes in the 2011 election. There was proven illegal financing in the 2008 election (“In and Out Scandal”).
  38. Blatant false estimates were promoted during the 2011 election campaign and afterwards about the cost of F-35 fighter jets, vastly understating the true cost.
  39. The amassing of power to an unprecedented degree within the Prime Minister’s Office so that elected representatives, even most cabinet members, are left out of decision-making.
  40. Prorogued Parliament twice for reasons of partisan advantage, once in December, 2008 to prevent a non-confidence vote, and again in December, 2009 to avoid questions about having given Parliament misleading information.
  41. Moved over $40 million from funding meant for border infrastructure to a beautification project in Minister Tony Clement’s riding, to build gazebos and other attractions for the G8 summit in 2010
  42. Spent huge amounts on the G20 summit in 2010 for construction of a fake lake in Toronto, and on excessive and ineffective police presence that led to hundreds of unjustified arrests and maltreatment of innocent people.
  43. Harper was the first prime minister in Canadian history to be found in contempt of Parliament, after refusing to release information to Parliament, March, 2011.
  44. Controls Parliamentary committees through handpicked committee chairs and handbooks issued to them (January 2010) on how to obstruct the opposition. Committees are resorting more frequently to in-camera sessions, out of reach of the public and media.
  45. Abandoned the Federal-Provincial Health Accord of 2004, presenting in its place a take-it-or-leave-it reduced spending plan to provinces and territories in 2011. The Harper government is abandoning the federal role as guardian of national standards and universal access. The result is the fragmenting of health care in Canada into 14 separate systems, with a likely increase in privatization in some jurisdictions.
  46. Initiated a multi-billion dollar penitentiary construction spree and other costly and inhumane changes to crime legislation which fly directly in the face of evidence that crime is declining and such measures do not prevent crime. There have been signals of pending privatization of prisons, a measure which has been proven disastrous in the United States. Poor and Aboriginal Canadians are disproportionately affected.
  47. Union-bashing continues without letup, e.g., back-to-work legislation for Air Canada, September, 2012, Canada Post, June, 2011 and more recent attacks on federal civil servants.
  48. Changed Employment Insurance rules in January 2013, with devastating effect on seasonal workers, especially in the Atlantic region.
  49. Enacted the Temporary Foreign Workers program, the result of which has been to rob Canadians of jobs and to mislead and take unfair advantage of the imported workers.
  50. Spent a cool million on flying Harper’s personal limo to India, January 2013.
  51. Blew away, within a year, the surplus left by the previous government, partly through an unwise reduction (2006 & 2008) in the Goods & Services Tax (GST).
  52. Spending went on for years promoting “Canada’s Economic Action Plan” with no transparent or credible evidence of its effectiveness. Many analysts find it highly questionable and certainly less rosy than portrayed. In 2011 alone, $21 million was spent to advertise it.
  53. Further erosion of government coffers happened in 2011 and 2012 with Corporate tax cuts. The idea was to stimulate corporations to invest and create more jobs. Instead many of them just sat on their money. (Lo and behold, it appears incentives to corporations don’t work so well for people. It’s no great news that corporate interests lie in profits, not in good citizenship.)
  54. Harper made sure that redistribution of ridings was crafted so that new House of Commons seats were strategically located to give advantage to his Party.
  55. Annual $1.3 billion subsidies to the oil and gas industry continue.
  56. Overall, Harper pursues a relentless and obsessive push for pipeline and tanker transport of hazardous bitumen, completely without consideration of the consequences other than oil industry profits and short-term spin-offs.
  57. Bills C-51 and C-58 allow the government to be more intrusive and coercive in our personal lives than ever before, just as public access to important sociological data diminishes.

In Conclusion