By Mark Taliano
“Virtue is regularly redefined to reflect fashion,” writes John Ralston Saul, “Sometimes it refers to honesty, sometimes to personal virtue, sometimes to devotion to the people’s welfare. Over the last twenty years, it has tended to refer to the virtue of personal enrichment.”
The “virtue” of the Harper Regime, sometimes cloaked in Christian evangelism, is the deformed notion that the 1% should enrich themselves at the expense of the 99%. It is a “virtue” that teaches us that the poor of the world are not worthy of our care, that the poor and marginalized of Canada are obstacles to surmount, and that people are subservient to the parasitical needs of corporate entities and the managerial class.
How else to explain the Con government’s decision to kill Bill C-398, which would help to get generic life-saving drugs to Africa? Killing Bill C-398 means that the Cons are enabling the deaths of countless poor and suffering in Africa. This is not an act of Christianity.
MP Nathan Cullen describes the scene in the House of Commons: “Just watched Conservative vote to kill our bill to help get generic life-saving drugs to Africa. Many of them laughed & smiled. Shameful. Who exactly do they work for? Grandmothers for Africa organized a great campaign. Anyone need another reason to toss Mr. Harper from office?”
In answer to his rhetorical question, they (the Cons) are working for the insular self-interest of pharmaceutical companies, to whom they are beholden. Such deeds are not aligned with Christian values, nor are they aligned with any notion of governing for the public good.
Stephen Lewis, former UN Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, sees it this way: “ … In the great choice of life, they (the Cons) have chosen patent protection over the lives of children. And that’s about as perfidious as you can get as a government.”
Under the Harper regime, Canada is experiencing an unprecedented widening of the gap
between the haves and have nots, as well as a shrinking middle class, all hallmarks of a third world economy. This has not gone unnoticed by the United Nations. In May of this year, Canada had the dubious honor of being the first developed nation to face a probe by the U.N Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Oliver De Schutter, who explained “that one of the reasons he came is because it’s scandalous that in a country as wealthy as Canada there are two million without enough to eat, ” and to show that it’s not a lack of food; it’s “ pure political will.”
The final report looks like this. Needless to say, the Con regime’s failure to adequately address poverty issues is another well-earned black mark on this country’s international reputation, and further proof of their mean-spirited, inhumane, and un-Christian governing style.
How are parasitical corporations contributing to this mess? Over the years, legislation has been crafted to enable corporate profits to the detriment of the 99%. Low corporate tax rates, corporate bailouts, privatization schemes, attacks on unions etc. ( all of which contributes to the looting of the public treasury), are specialties of neo-liberal market theories, to which the Harper Cons are devoted. One result of this failing economic theory is that corporations are now sitting on what Bank Of Canada Governor Mark Carney refers to as “dead money”.
Thanks to an unwitting, and therefore complicit public, Canadian corporations, (not including banks) are now hoarding about 400 BILLION dollars. It is just sitting there: it is not being used to purchase goods and services, and so it is a drain on the economy. Years ago, corporate tax rates were about 34%, and now they’re at the low rate of about 16%. Add to this the legislatively enabled tax loopholes, tax breaks, and tax havens, and it becomes clear that many corporations are not paying their way. To add insult to injury, corporate empowering trade deals allow them to relocate to other countries that offer a weaker social sphere, including no-unionization, low pay, and an easily exploited workforce. Remember Caterpillar?
So, if the definition of “virtue” included a strong social sphere, the Harper Cons are clearly not up to the task. If the definition meant the personal enrichment of the managerial class, to the detriment of the 99%, and to the detriment of the economy, then maybe they are “virtuous”.
I would think, however, that the morally and economically bankrupt Con model doesn’t suit any “definition” of virtue. Even the 1% will soon find themselves unwitting victims of this governing and economic model, which is childish in its greed, and irresponsible in its societal ramifications.
Mark Taliano is a Niagara resident and regular contributor of news and commentary to Niagara At Large.
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