A News Commentary by Doug Draper
The late Richard Nixon, the only president of the United States who resigned from that most lofty office in disgrace following the Watergate scandals of the early 1970s, became infamous for having an “enemies list.” It was a list Nixon put together of people who dared to openly criticize\ his policies and it was used to spy on these people and commit other abuses of power that ultimately led to his demise.
Now we find out, thanks to information leaked to mainstream news outlets like The Globe and Mail and CBC that Canada’s prime minister, Stephen Harper, is building his own lists of “enemy stakeholders” and is instructing his recently-sworn-in members of cabinet to do the same. The purpose of these lists, at least on the surface, according to the memo Harper sent out to his ministers and their staff, is to accumulate an inventory of individuals and groups across Canada his government may choose “to engage or avoid” in advancing its agenda.
So this is where we’re now at my fellow Canadians – in a country that, up to recently, has had a pretty good record of respecting and taking into consideration the views of any and all citizens, including expert staff within our government ministries, who care to share their views in the course of deciding how best we should address the many challenging issues that face our country today.
Instead of showing the respect any advanced democracy should to people with divergent views, and to people who care enough to dedicate some of their time to the civic affairs of our country, this Harper government is trying to divide us into warring camps of friends and enemies, and we shouldn’t let this government get away with driving those kind of wedges between us. Do we really want to live in a country where a government disenfranchises any citizen or any staff scientist or other in a ministry – as in completely cutting them off from a discussion – if their views don’t fit in nicely with that government’s pre-determined ideology?
If this is where we are going as a country, then we are retreating from the values and principles many Canadians before us have held so dear – principles that many past generations of Canadians have fought and died for in wars against autocratic and totalitarian regimes. We are talking about moving toward a dictatorship where a free and open exchange of ideas, however much those ideas may challenge those of the powers-that-be, are flushed down the drain as if those who presented them don’t deserve any of the rights of citizenship.
And what else might these enemy lists be used for other than creating a caste system where those who disagree with the prevailing government ideology are untouchables? How do we know that they won’t also be used to monitor email and phone calls, to target government critics for tax audits, to withdraw any environmental, health care advocacy or other group them may belong to of grants or charitable status, to give them an extra hard time at international border crossings, or something worse?
I would certainly hope that opposition parties in Ottawa demand that these enemy lists be fully disclosed so that we might at least know who is on them. I would also hope that one of these opposition parties wins the next federal election in 2015 so that we might move away from this brand of ‘big brother’, totalitarian government that so soils a country that has been a beacon for free and open civic discourse and democracy around the world.
My fellow Canadians, the real enemy of our country and everything it has proudly stood for in this world is this Harper government and that election could not come soon enough.
Our Canada will be celebrating the 150th year of its birth as a federation in a mere four years from now. By then, I hope we are able to say that Harperland was a dark stain on our history and we are getting back to the country that has been world leader for democracy, peace and tolerance toward others, and for environmental protection, health care, providing affordable college and university education for our young and other values so many generations of Canadians over the past half century or more have held so dearly.
P.S. – If or when those enemy lists are released, I will feel I have not done my duty as an engaged citizens of this country I love if my name does not show up on one of them. So bring it on Big Brother.
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