The only item worth reading in the whole paper is Alec Bruce who writes about how universities have strayed from their mandate. At that, he is gentle. The leaders of the academic world are now modelling themselves on corporate bosses, and are very quickly learning the rules of greed and self-interest - and kissing up.
(I couldn't do the story on city hall because I don't have a written report - and even with earphones, I have trouble hearing it adequately Hey! These are my golden years - that means I'm turning into a deaf and increasingly dumb lump of yellow rock.
If you want some New Brunswick news, check out NB Media Co-op on google. It has excellent articles on he pipeline and on Idle No More - as well as other topics. For more local focus on Moncton, google Moncton Free Press. Both sites are excellent.
But here, the hell with it. Let's talk about prime minister Harper. Let's have some facts. Let's develop some informed theories.
Ever notice that whenever Harper visits New Brunswick, he never says how happy he is to be back in the province of his father - and of generations before him? And he never goes to Port Elgin to see his father's home. Nor does the tourism department ever mention either the NB or the Port Elgin connection? There's not even a little sign on the house about its history.
I have never known the Irving press to mention it or to make any attempt to find out who the original Harper was or where he settled.
We even have two streets named after the Harpers, just off Main on its east end, very close to our federal mp's office.
This is a little unusual. More than a little. Ten years ago, workers clearing pollution from a railway yard (something like Highgate Square) uncovered the basement of an old farmhouse. A television station (Global, i think) checked, found it was the original Decarie farmhouse of 1670 or so, and asked me to come down to do an interview on it. (And I wasn't even a prime minister at the time.) I can tell you that I scampered down pretty quickly, and that time spent in the more than five hundred years old basement remains a warm memory.
Harper obviously has no such feelings about New Brunswick.
Some people say it's because his grandfather, a high school principal in Moncton (the school still stands, though now as an apartment building just off Vaughan Harvey and St. George)....anyway, his grandfather simply disappeared. There are all sorts of rumours about how and why. Most of them seem unlikely. The most plausible one was that he suddenly developed a severe mental confusion and, probably, died alone somewhere.
But it's not likely this would terribly bother Harper. He wasn't even born at the time it happened. And, in any case, it didn't happen in Port Elgin.
No. I suspect the reason Harper does not want to be reminded of his roots here (though he was born in Toronto) is because he just doesn't like New Brunswick. More - because he has contempt for it.
Now, let's look at Harper himself. This is a very insecure man. He shows his insecurity in his obsession with control. Everything in his government is secret. No cabinet minister would dare to say a word without his approval. When he chose Kevin Page to be an independent auditor who would check for waste, inefficiency or impropriety in the spending of money by government and would submit it to the House of Commons, government departments refused to give Page the information he needed. And Harper supported the departments.
Then, when Page's incomplete report was prepared, he found he would not be allowed to submit it to the House of Commons. It had to go just to Harper; and Harper would then snip out the parts he didn't want anybody to see. He has to control. Page has since resigned - and Harper has shown no interest in appointing another auditor.
In the same way, he bundles important legislation so that there is so much to be passed so quickly, it cannot be understood - or even fully read - before the vote.Harper has an intense dislike of democracy. That is not a sign of strength. It is a sign of insecurity.
The robocalls (misleading phone calls placed during the last federal election) were a very serious and illegal attack on democracy. So where was the independent investigation? It never happened. Harper has to be in control.
When Brian Mulroney was caught in gross corruption that haappened in his prime minister years, Harper killed any serious investigation. He would not have killed such an investigation of a union leader or of you or me. A strong and secure prime minister would have mounted a major and public investigation. Harper didn't.
I sat on a committee of a dozen senior civil servants chaired by a cabinet minister notorious for being the number one loyal servant to his master. The cabinet minister had a proposal for us that was wasteful, useless, and designed to benefit only the conservative party. The civil servants all nodded their heads, and obediently offered up thanks for such a wise proposal.
So I resigned from the committee.
That obsession with control is not a sign of strength. It is a sign of insecurity.
Similarly, he surrounds himself with yes-men and quite undistinguished cabinet ministers. Peter Mackay is a walking disaster who's incompetence (and lack of political ethics) has cost us heavily.Then there was Paradis, convicted of highly improper consultations with a businessman who needed favours from Paradis' department.
Then there was Maxime Bernier who had a very public affair with a very hot woman who was closely connected with Hell's Angels. Indeed, she was once married to a leader of the gang, and was still a very good friend of the gang. Bernier insisted on bringing her to public events he attended as a cabinet minister. And he insisted she wear tight clothing with low necklines so that everybody would be impressed - (with what a hot dude he must be.)
Mind you, so far he had done nothing that would not be perfectly acceptable under the employment rules for Crandall University.
Then, he accidentally forgot a portfolio of sensitive NATO documents after a night of ecstasy with his girlfriend.
Well, he had to resign in 2008. But all is now forgiven and he's back in the cabinet and on the rise.
This is one hell of a weak and submissive cabinet.
Choosing a weak staff in not a sign of strength.
If you check his economic thinking, you find that it's brand of economics that is more religious than scientific. That is, it's heavily based on faith rather than reason. Reliance on faith makes eminent sense in religion. It does not make sense in economics.
The basic tenet of the faith is that the very rich are the only people who know what they're doing. They should be allowed, therefore, to do whatever they want to do. And if you give the rich unlimited power and money, then we will all prosper.
In thousands of years of history, there is no evidence that this is true. It's not true in Saudi Arabia where the rich are stunnningly rich but where the rate of poverty is one of the highest in the developed world. Through the nineteenth century and later, the wealthy of Britain were the wealthiest in the world. But working class life was hell. The same has been historically true in Canada and the US. Any sharing of wealth we ever got came from unions and government programmes.
But Harper is a true believer. He brings us an economics of faith, not of reason. And the reliance on faith in matters that require firm knowledge is a sign of insecurity, not of strength.
With that, let's try an idea about how that insecurity developed.
Harper is man of humble background. His father, while in Port Elgin, made a respectable but not affluent living by doing accounting for local firms (of which there are few in Port Elgin.
He moves to Toronto where Stephen is born. He's not a rich man when he arrives. But he does do well over the years. So young Stephen is faced with a problem. He starts school as perhaps a member of the lower middle class. But within his education days, he has to cope with a rapidly changing class status, always trying to learn the rules of the new class he is moving up to - and then relearning them over and over all the way up to his MA. He's always the new kid, trying to figure how to fit in.
That can make you very insecure, indeed. At each stage, what he was, what his family was become embarrasments. There's no status in coming from a poor province or from a small, rural village. One also adopts the attitudes of the new and desirable social status - the poor are lazy, stupid, contemptible.
I suspect that Harper despises new Brunswick and its people. It's not really his fault. He is a dreadfully insecure man. He has to fit in with where is, not where his family was.
Anyway, there's no harm in despising the people of New Brunswick. He ignores them. He has done nothing for them. But the latest polls still show the conservatives leading in New Brunswick for the next federal election. Nothing could better confirm for him that these people are intellectually lazy, scarcely the level of cattle in the field, not worth paying any attention to - and certainly, with the exception of Mr. Irving, not worth being associated with. Indeed, anything that might connect him with them would be an embarrassment.
Incidentally, New Brunswickers might want to rethink why their young people leave in such numbers. It's partly for jobs, of course. But it also might have other causes, causes that are us and our attitudes and our failures to show a little spirit and a little independence of thought