Saturday, April 12, 2008
BEHIND CLOSE DOORS...
That's apparently where Stephen Harper's CONserfative government believes a lot of governing needs to be done.
It may just be circumstantial evidence that two key policy directives were hidden deep inside other major motions. While that raises suspicions, all you need to do is dig deeper to find the old ugly head of Reform politics seeping out.
Harper has safely selected a few pawns to play the role of benevolent deciders. Whether its immigration or funding for Canadian films, the 'official interpretation' is benign guidance. But the reality is a parochial threat through malignant manoevering.
While both these policy steps, which wouldn't look out of step from Uncle Joe Stalin's hand book on governing, are meant to demonstrate strong change in directions, they also reveal the strident right-side edge of Harper.
Putting the oversight of all immigration decisions in the hands of 'one minister' who can give a thumbs-up or thumbs-down, essentially muting the voices of trained officials, isn't meant to speed up a cumbersome immigration system. By giving one 'person' -- and let us pretend that Harper won't be pulling the levers -- will only result in more hidden agenda-style decision-making. Just check out the government's record on virtually every other file and its promise for 'openness.'
It in fact centralizes and politicizes the act of immigration -- which has already seen its share recently, as in Harper's delay and neglect in the refugee claimant process. It allows Harper the opportunity to shift and reshape Canada's current system, which encourages family unification and skill accreditation, to a more business-friendly collage of temporary work visas and selective ethnic communities. For those things that can't be outsourced, many mega-corporations will stock their employee shelves with lower-paid foreigners without the same job protection as Canadian workers.
And then there's the hamhanded attempt to give the CONs' Christian-right supporters a bone by tightly regulating federal funding for the film industry.
Under the aspices of trying to keep federal funding out of the hands of pornographers (and violence in films, although that's just a ruse for a party that steathily wishes to protect the rights of every gun owner), Harper wants Josie and her PuttyTats wearing the black hat on who gets what. Of course, every decision, like everything else done in this Ottawa, will be filtered tightly through the PMO.
They've even sent out the snarky adolescent Pierre Pooh to try and knock down Sarah Polley, the actor and director who's stood up and talked strongly against the government's censorship bill. The insolent wimp wouldn't stand a chance.
These two acts are dangerous hints at what lies in store if Harper is to continue to govern. It's time to pull the plug.