Marking 20 years
of bold journalism,
reader supported.
Federal Election 2011

BC Must Not Hand Harper His Majority

Minority governments are good things. Unchecked Conservatives? Not good at all.

Rafe Mair 18 Apr

Rafe Mair writes a Monday column for The Tyee. Read his previous columns here.

image atom
Do we really want to give him all that power?

So we in British Columbia will give Stephen Harper and his Tories the majority he seeks. We must be out of our minds to contemplate such a catastrophe! Let's start with the notion that minority governments are bad for us.

Really? Imagine what might have happened if Harper and his gang had a majority this past five years?

Minority governments to me are good things. A majority government can do as it likes and most importantly, can force whatever budget they desire through the House with nothing to stop them because they can't.

The original idea of Parliament was to hold the king responsible for his use of the public purse. It was quite a struggle for the House to actually do the taxing and decide how much of that money would go where.

In a majority situation, the minister of finance tables his budget, awaits a few speeches by the opposition, and then crams it through.

In a minority government, the minister of finance must ask for the money and face a Commons that has the power to amend or even refuse to pass it. Doesn't the latter seem like a good idea?

There is the notion that "nothing gets done" when there's a minority government. That is simply untrue. Most of the free world either has a minority government, a coalition or, indeed, a republican system where the opposition can block and does block government spending.

Legislation requires a full debate not a cramming-down-the-throat exercise. Surely it must be a good idea to have a Parliament where every MP has a vote that counts and there are constraints on the opposition which won't trigger an election every time they don't like a government move because they can't afford the election they trigger.

Tories are bad for BC salmon

Why would any British Columbian vote Conservative in any event?

The Harper government has been held in contempt of Parliament and while I haven't extensively researched this point, I can't remember this ever happening before. The speaker, Peter Milliken, is highly thought of by all parties, though the Tories may be an exception now. In any event, are we truly going to overlook this and vote for a disgraced leader and party anyway?

Second, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans mandate to care for our salmon has not only permitted it to be sacrificed to fish farms, they have placed themselves on the side of the fish farmers and done so very explicitly. (If you haven't received a copy of leaked memo proving this, write me at here and I will send you one.)

The DFO has been under political orders since 1986 when Alcan sought approval of Kemano II and DFO scientists were told to butt out. They not only help fish farmers to the exclusion of our wild salmon, the minister, the dangerously dumb Gail Shea, attends conferences of fish farmers, extols their "virtues" and urges them to invest even more in Canada!

Even during the time that the provincial government was licensing and pretending to enforce the law, the federal government had the mandate to enforce the federal Fisheries Act which, under political orders of the Harper government, willfully turned a blind eye to this question and actively helps fish farmers by shilling for their industry.

And we're going to give this government a majority so fish farmers can steadily and increasingly overlook the wiping out of our salmon to the benefit of, largely, huge Norwegian companies?

Tories are bad for BC rivers

The Tory government supports independent power producers (IPPs), which smash our environment and bankrupt our great public power corporation, BC Hydro. And by giving $73 million of our tax dollars to Plutonic Energy, which is General Electric in drag. The MP for the area, Tory John Weston, who gave the cheque, made no effort of any kind to consult anyone fighting IPPs. He knows me well and knows that I could brief him, but not a word. It looks to all the world as if GE/Plutonic gets a payoff for the support of the Harper government and Weston.

There is no doubt that a Tory majority would move heaven and earth to approve the Enbridge pipeline from the tar sands to Kitimat thence down our extremely treacherous coast by huge tankers.

And we in British Columbia are going to give these bastards a majority?

In addition to the "contempt" issue, I have raised the two married issues, fish farms and the environment. In my experience on other issues such as health, education, social needs and unemployment, all parties say that they are for fixing these things but that the other guy isn't doing enough. In the end, very little changes. Each new government, on taking office, exclaims, "This is much more serious than I thought!" But nothing changes.

British Columbia has come to the point where continued policy by both senior governments will have permanent consequences that will change our province forevermore.

We will lose our precious rivers to private companies who don't care because their allegiance is to shareholders like Warren Buffett. And besides, they don't have to care so cozy are they to politicians.

The energy IPPs will create is of no use to BC Hydro who must buy it under orders of the provincial government then either use it or export it at a crippling loss. This policy of environmental ruination for power we don't need, forced with crippling losses to BC Hydro is, admittedly, a provincial matter but as we have seen, the federal government has supported IPPs with big bucks from us, the helpless taxpayers. Moreover the Harper Government has, through changes to the Navigable Waters Act, made it a cinch for IPPs to use rivers that were once closed to them.

Just say no

Is this what we're going to support?

A party in contempt of Parliament?

A party that directly participates in the decimation of our wild salmon, the soul and symbol of British Columbia?

A party quite willing to sacrifice our resources so that the U.S. can have cheaper energy?

What's a Tory majority going to do for you (no need to answer if you're a big corporation) that makes you want to support them?

What difference would it make for you if Ignatieff and his Liberals got in?

In looking at the lot of them, which leader gives a fiddler's fart for British Columbia?

I'm reminded of the old ditty of the preacher and the bear where the preacher, fighting for his life, cries out "Lord. Lord, if you can't help me for goodness sake don't help that bear!"

With that in mind, it may well be that my vote will not stop a Harper quest for majority... but it sure as hell isn't going to help him!  [Tyee]

  • Share:

Facts matter. Get The Tyee's in-depth journalism delivered to your inbox for free

Tyee Commenting Guidelines

Comments that violate guidelines risk being deleted, and violations may result in a temporary or permanent user ban. Maintain the spirit of good conversation to stay in the discussion.
*Please note The Tyee is not a forum for spreading misinformation about COVID-19, denying its existence or minimizing its risk to public health.


  • Be thoughtful about how your words may affect the communities you are addressing. Language matters
  • Challenge arguments, not commenters
  • Flag trolls and guideline violations
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity, learn from differences of opinion
  • Verify facts, debunk rumours, point out logical fallacies
  • Add context and background
  • Note typos and reporting blind spots
  • Stay on topic

Do not:

  • Use sexist, classist, racist, homophobic or transphobic language
  • Ridicule, misgender, bully, threaten, name call, troll or wish harm on others
  • Personally attack authors or contributors
  • Spread misinformation or perpetuate conspiracies
  • Libel, defame or publish falsehoods
  • Attempt to guess other commenters’ real-life identities
  • Post links without providing context


The Barometer

Are You Concerned about AI?

Take this week's poll