BOOK REVIEW: “Party of One” by Michael Harris

party-of-one1Robin Sukhu

“Party of One” begins with Harper’s early years and how he rose to power. I was left feeling that being an ally of Harper is a dangerous adventure, sooner or later it will work out badly for you. (I actually feel sympathy for Preston Manning.)

The book also presents a list of Harper’s transgressions over his almost 10 years in office. When presented with this information combined with the benefit of history, it is hard not be become angry. We now know that the Harper government misled Parliament on the F-35s, we now know that the “in-and-out” scandal was real, robo-calls was real … the list goes on. As I read the book I often wondered why are people just not up in arms about what has been done to our country.

Below are a few excerpts from the book:

  • Bill C-38, the Navigation Protection Act (NPA) reduced the number of protected lakes from 32,000 to 97. An estimated 98 percent of the rivers and lakes in Canada no longer have federal protection.
  • Under the UN Fish Stocks Agreement, Canada is supposed to have 10 percent of its waters designated as “marine protected”; the actual number achieved thus far is 0.5 percent.
  • A June 14, 2012 letter written by the then fisheries minister, Keith Ashfield, complains that the existing Fisheries Act offered “few tools to authorize pollution” but that new legislation in Bill C-38 would “establish new tools to authorize deposits of deleterious substances”.
  • In 2012 Canadian taxpayers realized a benefit of $9 per barrel of oil equivalent (BOE). Norway on the other hand received $46.29 – over 5 times what Canada gets. Norway currently has an $850 billion sovereign wealth fund for its people. Canada has nothing.
  • Along with a big piece of the tar sands, Asia’s largest refiner now had the right to veto whether Syncrude refined bitumen in Canada or shipped it abroad “like a good global coolie”
  • The Canada/China Foreign Investment Protection and Promotion Agreement was personally signed by Stephen Harper in September 2012. FIPPA gives China the right to sue Canada for unlimited damages if domestic laws by any level of government harm the value of Chinese investment. The special “investor arbitration” provision is conducted in courts outside the country and behind closed doors.
  • Contempt of the House of Commons
  • Ordered government lawyers to oppose the claim by Afghanistan veterans that the government had a social contract to take care of wounded soldiers
  • Attempted to retroactively amend the Supreme Court Act in an omnibus budget bill. Legal scholars immediately saw this as an attempt to override the fundamental supremacy of the Canadian constitution
  • At the May 2011 G8 Summit, Harper “took the unbelievable decision to block President Obama’s statement in the draft communique from the G-8 that the starting point for Israeli/ Palestinian peace negotiations would be the 1967 borders. We (Canada) vetoed that. It may have gone down well in Tel Aviv. It didn’t go down well in Washington”
  • At the G20 Summits in Ontario 2010: the self-styled prudent managers of the Harper government had also burned through nearly one billion dollars of taxpayers’ money in hosting the planet’s potentates. It was ten times the amount anyone else had ever spent on these events – and ten times the deplorable financial waste resulting from the sponsorship program.
  • Here is what Auditor General Sheila Fraser had to say about the Harper government: “Parliament has become so undermined it is almost unable to do the job that people expect of it. A glaring example is the budget bill, where there was no thoughtful debate or scrutiny of the legislation. And the legislation was massive, much of it with little to do with the budget.”

As I finished the book I am left wondering where is the fiscal responsibility – I see lavish spending on G20 and a half-baked procurement process for F-35s. I wonder why he is willing to give China a veto over how we use our tar sands resources. I wonder if Bill C-38 will leave a functioning environment for future generations. Why does he say “support our troops” but does not want to take care of wounded soldiers? Why do we get so little for our tar sands resources? Really, what has he done for our country?

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