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Around the Kitchen Table

Donald Ward


I was wrong. In my last column I wrote that I had never seen the secular press so blatantly biased as they were during the British election campaign in May 2015. That was before the Canadian election campaign of October 2015, when every major paper in the country endorsed Steven Harper and his Conservatives. I had never seen so many published voices trying to highjack public opinion before. Of course, they were wrong, too — indicating how seriously out of step our newspapers are with their readers.

I was wrong again in suggesting that only dogs had the proper perspective on poles. Canadian pollsters were largely unhelpful throughout the campaign, but in the end they predicted a Liberal win — not quite on the scale that it happened, of course, but they were close enough to feel smug about it after the fact.

I felt fairly smug about it, too. When the polls closed in Atlantic Canada and the entire region went Liberal red, I had a feeling we were looking at a major Liberal majority. I didn’t say anything at the time for fear of being contradicted later, and I didn’t say anything later for fear of being contradicted again.

“Sure, Don, you predicted a Liberal majority when every major newspaper in Canada supported the Conservatives.”

All I can say is that every major newspaper in Canada was wrong.

My view throughout the campaign was A-B-C: Anything But Conservative. In my view, Steven Harper was a republican, and the further he took us from fundamental Canadian values the happier he was.

He sent us not on peace-keeping missions but on war-making missions, and young Canadians were coming home in body bags — either that or with PTSD and other wounds a suddenly ungrateful nation was unwilling to treat.

During the Harper administration Veterans Affairs offices were closed across the country, leaving uncountable veterans no recourse but to navigate the user-unfriendly bureaucracy that had been set up in their place. Whereas before a simple phone call to the local Veterans Affairs office would clear up any difficulty, now the veteran has to access a central bureaucracy via the Internet. Never mind if you don’t own a computer. That’s your problem.

To his credit, Steven Harper apologized to First Nations for their treatment at the hands of the residential schools that played so large and destructive a part in Indian policy in Canada over the years, but he consistently refused to launch a national inquiry into missing and murdered Aboriginal women — a situation that any civilized country would call an epidemic. Harper’s view was that the criminal law was sufficient to deal with such cases, but as Police Chief Clive Weighill of Saskatoon recently remarked, “Prime Minister Harper wants to say this is a criminal matter . . . But when you see the socio-economic factors, the poverty, the racism, it’s also systemic. We need to get to the root cause of this.”

Getting to the root cause of things was not Harper’s forte. He refused to address the root causes of crime, preferring to build larger penitentiaries instead. He refused to address the root causes of global warming, preferring to encourage the oilsands to carry on polluting and producing to feed an energy-greedy world. He refused to address the root causes of poverty, which is social injustice, preferring to allow the free market to steamroller its way through the lives of the poor and the dispossessed. He watched the poor get poorer and the rich get richer, and he did not raise a hand to help.

Will things be different now? With a new cabinet that is reflective of the demographics of the nation it serves, we are perhaps allowed to hope that Justin Trudeau will give back to Canadians a country they can be proud of.