A Brief Comment from Doug Draper
Posted July 1st, 2016 on Niagara At Large
On the eve of this Canada Day 2016, the nation’s senior justices dealt what will hopefully be a fatal blow to yet another decision by the former Harper government that was affront to democracy and the common good.
This time it was the Federal Court of Appeal quashing a permit Harper’s cabinet issued the tar sands industry to construct the notorious Northern Gateway pipeline from Alberta’s tar pits through British Columbia to the west coast.
“The three-justice panel concluded that the former Conservative government failed in its duty to consult First Nations prior to issuing a cabinet order approving the $7.9-billion pipeline that would deliver 525,000 barrels a day of oil sands crude to the West Coast,” reads a story that appeared at the top of The Globe and Mail’s Report on Business this July 1st.
Hopefully, the voice of U.S. President Barack Obama saying; “This is the only planet we’ve got, and this may be the last shot we’ve got to save it,” are still ringing in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s ears from Obama’s visit to Ottawa this June 29th, and he won’t take any steps to reissue that permit.
Watching the live coverage of Trudeau introduce Obama in Canada’s House of Commons this June 29th before the president delivered a speech that discussed the urgent need to address climate change and the need to treat people with different skin colours, religious beliefs and cultural backgrounds with tolerance and compassion, I could not help but think; “What a difference a year can make.”
Last year at this time, Stephen Harper and his minions were still in power with their record of climate denial, muzzling scientists and gutting environmental protection rules; their xenophobia, homophobia and racism and wanting to launch a snitch line for “barbaric cultural practices”; their phony, costly and counterproductive get-tough-on-crime shtick; their single-mind obsession with tar sands over building a more diverse economy; and their penchant for ignoring the interests of everyday Canadians and shutting down parliament when things weren’t going their way.
Yet last year at this time, the minds of Canadians were already turning to a federal election in the fall and there was a sense that many had finally had enough of this dictatorship and were eager for change.
In the commentary I posted for Canada Day last year, I made a plea to as many of my fellow Canadians who might visit this site to get engaged in the election and us it as “an opportunity to take our country back from a Harper autocracy that has been fulfilling its promise to change our great nation in ways that we won’t recognize it.”
Thankfully, many Canadians did get engaged and how good it was to visit friends on the east coast of the United States this spring and have so many of them – as they worry about the rise of Donald Trump and their own coming election – say; “At least you seem to have a good person in charge up there now.”
Relative to what people face in many other countries in this world, we do seem to have a person in charge now who is more open to taking the interests and concerns of all Canadians into account, and that is a reason to feel a little proud and hopeful this Canada Day.
“We beat fear with hope. We beat cynicism with hard work. We beat negative, divisive politics with a positive vision that brings Canadians together. Most of all, we defeated the idea that Canadians should be satisfied with less, that good enough is good enough and that better just isn’t possible,” said Trudeau in his first address as prime minister last October. “Well, my friends, this is Canada, and in Canada better is always possible.”
Certainly we continue face big challenges and there always will be concerns and disagreements around the decisions of any government in power.
I already have some concerns of my own over any possibility this government will sign a Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement that threatens even more decent paying jobs in Canada. I also have serious concerns over the Trudeau government moving forward with a deal the Harper government negotiated to sell military hardware to a country with as deplorable a human rights record and with a record of funding terrorist groups as Saudi Arabia.
On this Canada Day, let’s take a vow to remain engaged in the affairs of Canada and to do what we can to make sure that Trudeau keeps the promise he made when his government was sworn in last October to fulfill “a vision and an agenda for this country that is positive and ambitious and hopeful.”
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Here is wishing you all the very best on this Canada Day weekend.
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