The bullies are in Parliament

I deal with a lot of schoolyard bullies in the course of my job. I’ve seen every type, from the girls who bully through social exclusion to the traditional physical intimidation bully to the one who uses the teacher to do their dirty work while coming up smelling like roses. I like to think I’ve gotten through to a few of them, convinced them that what they were doing was a bad deal and they should stop. I like to think I’ve made my classrooms a better place for my students at least some of the time.

I’d like to get my hands on the bullies in the Harper Government for a few lessons.

First target: environmental groups. Since anyone who opposes the oil sands is by definition a radical environmentalist, it makes sense to find out what these people are up to and where they’re getting their money, right? Well, of course, even if that means devoting $8 million to ferreting out their secrets. But the same doesn’t hold true for the people in favour of the pipeline. They can buy all the political goodwill they want and nobody bothers to point out that most of their funding comes from Texas. They aren’t a charity, so it doesn’t matter.

It’s like telling on your seatmate for some minor infraction until the teacher has no choice but to punish them. The best part by far is that your seatmate will look like sour grapes if he points out that you did it, too.

Second target: the CBC. So the CBC doesn’t spout enough Conservative talking points? It supports useless luxuries like the arts? It still occasionally runs op-ed pieces that aren’t filtered through the Conservative party first? It must be cut!

Third target: Elections Canada. Election fraud? What election fraud? You accuse us of fraud, we’ll cut your budget and claim it’s because you’re overly liberal and biased against us! You won’t be able to afford the type of investigation you want to do once we’re done with your budget! See also: You tell the teacher what I did to that little kid, and I’ll steal your lunch money!

Fourth Target: The First Nations Statistical Institute. This one is buried deep on a table of cuts. The First Nations Statistical Institute is basically Statistics Canada for First Nations populations. The cut totals $5 million. Their budget? $5 million. Because heaven forbid those pesky Inuit actually have real statistical information to back up their requests for help for things like adequate housing and potable water.

We used to be a nation that based decisions on sound statistical and scientific analysis. The reason our scientists so often produced such excellent work was that they were publicly funded and therefore lacked some of the conflicts of interest engendered by, for example, pharmaceutical company grants. It seems now that this government sees information as the enemy and its public dissemination as akin to treason. Of all the things which scare me about this government, its fear of science and sound analysis tops the list. On what basis are they making decisions, if not that? How will we, or for that matter anybody, hold them to account, if the information we need is never gathered or analysed or communicated?

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