Ottawa is contractually obliged to keep secret the details of a controversial $15-billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia – a transaction that Stephen Harper personally assured the country’s monarch will be guaranteed by the Canadian government, documents say.
Foreign Affairs e-mails obtained by The Globe and Mail under access-to-information law indicate the Saudis have made excess publicity about the sale of armoured fighting vehicles a deal-breaker.
Officials were scrambling behind the scenes in January, after media coverage of the arms deal, to determine the consequences of publicly releasing the terms of the Saudi contract.
Aliya Mawani, a Canadian diplomat based in Riyadh, the capital, told Foreign Affairs colleagues on Jan. 21 that “we (the government) would be breaking the terms of the contract” with Saudi Arabia if details were made public.
“The contract is under a Canadian government guarantee in terms of fulfilment,” Ms. Mawani wrote in a Jan. 21 exchange with colleagues on why Ottawa couldn’t make the terms public.
“This was confirmed in writing by our Prime Minister in his letters to the King,” she said, speaking of Mr. Harper and the late Saudi King Abdullah.
A cloak of secrecy surrounds this agreement, first announced in 2014, with Ottawa refusing to divulge any substantial information on the vehicles Canada is selling to the Saudi regime – or how it justifies the sale to a nation known for human-rights abuses. (...)
Ottawa – In a follow-up to Sunday’s announcement that Stephen Harper would ban travel to some global conflict zones, the Conservative Party leader today identified 954 Canadian voting stations as “places where terrorists will be bloody everywhere.”
“Let’s be clear. You should be terrified. Voting stations are terrifyingly terrifying,” said Harper flanked by rows and rows of Canadian flags.
“We have all seen that places where people cast their ballots are ground zero for terrorist activity,” continued Harper in a speech to supporters on Parliament Hill, making reference to the recent coup d’etat in ‘Albertastan’. (...)
“This abuse of executive power is tilting toward totalitarian government and away from the foundations of democracy and the rule of law on which this country was founded.”
-Errol Mendes, Professor of constitutional and international law (University of Ottawa)
The current Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper looks like a tattered and ragged old stuffed animal these days. You know–the ones with one button-eye missing and the other hanging by a single thread. Although he has survived endless scandals and sleazy acts over the past decade, Harper’s musical tune is now screeching and discordant. (...)
Matthew 6:5And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocritesare: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
If the name James Lunney doesn’t ring a bell, you shouldn’t feel poorly informed. As a Reform and then Conservative Party MP for Nanaimo-Alberni, “Dr.” Lunney has, since his first election in 2000, kept an extraordinarily low profile. His record for legislative contributions amounts to a single 2003 Private Member’s Bill that was dead on arrival. (The bill would have reclassified all natural health products as food, thereby allowing manufacturers to make whatever health claims they like on behalf of their dubious dilutions.)
Now, Lunney has announced: a) that he is not going to run again; and b) that he is a fierce defender of the right to free speech – and especially to the right of religious fundamentalists to deny the theory of evolution.
This view is plainly embarrassing to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, so Lunney has quit the Conservative caucus to sit as an Independent, thereby freeing him up to campaign for scientific illiteracy – and to whimper about having been roughed up in the unmediated internet-court of public opinion.
This all started in February, after Lunney tweeted: “stop calling #evolution fact!” in an uncharacteristically outspoken effort to defend Ontario Tory MPP Rick Nicholls, who was already in trouble for his creationist promotions.
In a written statement submitted with his resignation, Lunney says, "My remarks were inflated by media, blended with other unrelated but alleged heretical statements and became a top story on national media."
There followed what he described as a round of “cyberbullying” and “crowd-shaming” so severe that Lunney requested special dispensation to offer a long, valedictory counterpoint in the House of Commons. Speaker Andrew Scheer sent him away.
So, Lunney – who always insisted upon being called “Dr.” and yet seldom mentioned his actual chiropractic accreditation – now wants this to be a question of internet civility and freedom of speech. Fine. But then it’s worth considering whether the social-media mob, which has dispatched civility from the public discourse, may also have restored a community function long since lost in our layered and insulated world.
When we lived in villages, everyone knew the idiot. And when he said something silly, the people either pointed and laughed and or they turned away in embarrassed sympathy. In either case, they didn’t elect him chief.
But as our communities grew larger and more complex – as we became more adept at setting up partisan clubs (and churches) where everyone who ascribed to a particular belief cold gather and feel supported – the corrective effect of the crowd was lost. It then became possible for some of those people to work their way into positions of power, making their opinions defensible, not on merit, but merely on the strength of their newfound influence. Consider the existence today of a U.S. Republican establishment that enforces climate change denial as a pre-requisite for positions of leadership.
Yet, even in that strained reality, James Lunney has been given a free pass on many occasions. He gained his influence without ever campaigning on the creationist ideology that he is now trying to promote (I lived in his riding for 10 years and watched his campaigns with interest.) He has taken the taxpayers’ money for 15 years while ever-so-quietly pursuing a program that he never acknowledged at election time. And when he let slip his true opinions and people began the “cyberbullying” and “crowd shaming,” he got all huffy – as if a politician (and one who has been recompensed well beyond his personal contribution) should not be accountable for his actions and pronouncements.
So, yes, the internet is a land of personal vandalism and slander. Too many people leverage anonymity to say appalling things that they would never dare speak in a village, where they, too, were accountable. But that same internet can also be a place of rough justice.
James Lunney has been hiding. He has cloistered himself with a group of people who have agreed to believe a set of ideological precepts that are too embarrassing even for a federal political party that regularly courts the evangelical right.
And now that he has “outed” himself, Lunney wants to stand on a principle he has disregarded himself for 15 years. He wants to be taken seriously as a champion for a freedom of speech that he carefully avoided when he was trying to maintain sufficient credibility to stay electable.
In the civil and accountable village for which we all feel so nostalgic, James Lunney would have been recognized and dismissed as an idiot before ever achieving office. The fact that he has actively hidden his idiocy suggests that he is less than completely honest, as well. If now he feels shamed by the crowd, it’s high time.