Dear Stephen Harper:
Often, differences of opinion can be happily resolved over a good meal. It was with this in mind that Yukoners for Democracy wished to cordially invite you to lunch during your stay in Yukon. We are holding this lunch, picnic style, in front of the Elijah Smith Public Building at noon on Monday, Aug. 20. (This writer is bringing rhubarb crumble which we have been told is quite delicious.)
However, you are a busy person and it appears, from the lack of response from your office, that your time in Whitehorse is too limited to meet with us. Therefore, we have provided a list of subjects that we would like to discuss with you:
* The failed promise of a transparent and accountable government.
* Omnibus Budget Bill C-38 and the gutting of environmental protection in Canada, particularly in regard to fish habitat.
* The failure of the Nutrition North Canada program, (the replacement for the effective Food Mail program), to provide affordable healthy food to northern children.
* The CBC and its value to Canadian culture and national identity as well as its critical importance in remote northern communities.
* Large cuts to Parks Canada.
* Amendments to borrowing limits for the territories which will devolve what use to be legislative power back to the federal government.
* The erosion of workers’ rights through changes to the Employment Equity Act, the cutting of the Fair Wages and Hours of Labour Act and through government interference.
* Women’s rights, including reproductive rights within Canada and abroad.
* The importance of knowledge-based federal enterprises such as the long-form census, libraries and archives.
* The F-35s.
* Attacks on national scientific research, particularly those related to climate change. (See the cutting of the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Science, the Adaptation to Climate Change Research Group, the Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory and the Experimental Lakes Laboratory.)
* The muzzling of scientists.
* The use of Soviet-style media minders for scientists.
* The removal of the National Roundtable on the Environment and Economy, a round table of Industry leaders, environmentalists, First Nations, labour and policy makers. (Perhaps Ryan Leef can familiarize you with the cautionary tale of the Lost Patrol and how an arrogant refusal to use expert advice resulted in tragedy.)
* Omnibus Crime Bill C-10 and its resemblance to failed crime policy in the United States.
* Failure to reveal to Canadians how much the omnibus crime bill will cost.
* Omnibus bills used to push through legislation no one voted for.
* Unprecedented growth of media staff in the Privy Council who are now twice the number than they were under Jean Chretien.
* The overly expensive stimulus-package ads.
* The $8-million campaign to harass charities.
* Diminished funding for Elections Canada, inhibiting its ability to properly investigate Dean Del Maestro and Pierre Poutine.
* Omar Khadr and our failure to adhere to the United Nations convention on the rights of the child and its protocol on children in armed conflict.
* Failure to treat our wounded war veterans fairly.
* Increasing the age of eligibility for Old Age Security Pensions from 65 to 67 years.
* $31 billion removed from health-care transfer payments to provinces.
* Failure to adequately fund childcare.
* The introduction of Republican-style dirty tricks such as attack ads, bullying behaviour to disrupt committee work, spying on the medical files of whistle-blowers, smearing of private citizens who disagree with government policy and the use of push polls by the Conservative party.
* Did we mention the ethics?
Member of Parliament Ryan Leef and Senator Dan Lang have failed to speak directly to our concerns, perhaps having permission to speak only in generalities. It is well understood that yours is a buck-stops-here style of government.
Therefore, you may wish to address these issues, in detail, by publishing an open letter in the Whitehorse Daily Star and the Yukon News. It wouldn’t be quite the same thing as a frank discussion over sandwiches but it would be considered an open hand across the table, nevertheless.
Linda Leon is a Whitehorse freelance writer.