A baby boomer's plea- On Harper, Legacy and the Canadian election

A Baby Boomer’s plea: On Harper, Legacy and the Canadian election

A baby boomer's plea- On Harper, Legacy and the Canadian election
At least one Baby Boomer hopes to see Harper exit the political stage on Oct. 19 (Flickr/Stephen Harper)

This is for my fellow baby boomers. Yes, I mean you +55ers – the ones who lived through the 60’s and 70’s and even remember some of it. Think back to those days. Do you remember “Make Love Not War”, “Ban The Bomb” or how about “Power to the People” or “Never Trust Anyone Over Thirty”? Do you remember what your priorities were back then – your values, your ideals?

We were going to change the world and, for a short time, we did. Ours was the generation that stopped a war. Although Canada stayed out of Vietnam, we welcomed over 30,000 Americans who came here to avoid killing and being killed and we gave refuge to more than 50,000 “boat people” after Vietnam fell. We stood up for civil rights and women’s equality. We marched for a nuclear free world and even started Greenpeace, right here in Vancouver, because we thought saving our planet was important. But as I think about this election and the state our country is in, I remember a few years ago my son telling me that his generation was sick to death of hearing about all the noble things our generation had done and asking the question, “What have you done lately?”

Thinking about that question today, the only answer I can come up with is that we SOLD OUT!

It would be bad enough to say we sat idly by as our government destroyed our democracy with bills like the Orwellian-named “Fair Elections” Act; eliminated our freedoms by passing its anti-terrorist bill C-51; passed Bill C-24, making it possible for someone like Calgary’s Mayor Nenshi to be stripped of Canadian citizenship even though he was born in Toronto; muzzled or vindictively destroyed anyone who disagreed with them (Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page, Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission president Linda Keen); turned the peacekeeping forces that we were so proud of into a war machine; gutted environmental protections for the benefit of big (mostly foreign) corporations; sold off our natural resources (along with our wheat board) to other countries; allowed entire industries to be wiped out and well paid jobs to be shipped to third world countries; widened the income inequality gap; increased the number of homeless and allowed 1 in 5 children to live in poverty; slashed social programs and eliminated safety nets (healthcare, EI, support for veterans, the national child care program); increased the age of eligibility for OAS and changed retirement age for CPP; took aim at women by slashing funding, closing offices and removing “equality” from the stated goals of the Status of Women ministry; drastically cut funding of the CBC and the arts (because “nobody cares about the arts”); made secondary education less and less affordable for anyone but the privileged upper class; waged war on First Nations by cancelling the Kelowna Accord, ignoring Supreme Court decisions and refusing to uphold laws and policies set out in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (even refusing to ensure they had the barest necessities such as access to clean drinking water); and abandoned our injured veterans saying we had “no moral obligation” to them.

It would be bad enough to say that we ignored their secrecy (European and TPP trade agreements; avoiding the media or screening their questions; gagging scientists, federal public servants and their own MPs; delaying, restricting or denying public and media requests under the Access to Information act); their lies (F-35 stealth fighter jets); their corruption ($50 million in taxpayers’ money funnelled into Tony Clement’s riding under the guise of G8 expenses, the artificial lake); their misuse of funds and attitudes of entitlement (Bev Oda’s $16 orange juice, Peter McKay’s personal use of military helicopters); the laws they broke (Harper breaking his own fixed-date election law, the In-and-Out scandal in which the party exceeded national campaign spending limits by moving funds through local ridings, Robocalls); their criminal charges and convictions (Dean Del Mastro – Harper’s “ethics” spokesman jailed for crimes committed while sitting as an MP, top aide Bruce Carson convicted of 5 counts of fraud); Harper appointing Senators in clear violation of requirements regarding residency and the consistent pattern of unethical conduct of other Harper appointees.

It would be bad enough to say we did not pay attention to all the other abuses of this government, such as being found in contempt of Parliament (for refusing to release costs on programs to opposition MPs); proroguing Parliament 4 times and shutting it down for 181 days; re-naming the Government of Canada the Harper Government; eliminating the long-form census; omnibus bills; attacks on the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court; spying on environmental and aboriginal activists; auditing charities and non-profits (all of them environmental, civil society, anti-poverty, foreign aid and human rights groups); using tax dollars to fund political ads and propaganda for oil companies; retroactively passing legislation to protect themselves from crimes already committed (the shredding of long gun registry data); and last but certainly not least, the Senate scandal (the $90,000 cheque, who knew about it and when, attempts to interfere with an official audit). 

Yes, it would be bad enough to say we just ignored all of these things (and more) but the truth is that not only did we do nothing to stop them, we gave them our support! We became the establishment that we fought against – those people over 30 that we did not trust (and for good reason). We voted for this government and according to polls, we are the one age group that is overwhelmingly going to vote for them again.

Now, I realize that not all of you voted for the former Reformers, who have convincingly painted themselves as the Conservative party of old, and I realize that not all of you will vote for them on October 19th, but for those of you who will, I have a few questions.

1. Why? Why would you support a government as secretive, corrupt and hellbent on destroying our freedoms as this one? Someone suggested to me that it is because you care more about your money than anything else but that simply does not make any sense. When Harper took over, the economy was growing at 3% a year, there was a surplus of over $13-billion and our debt was $492-billion (and falling). Since being elected, he has run 6 straight deficits and the federal debt is now $615-billion (and rising). Whether he admits it or not, we are in a recession with our loonie tanking, unemployment climbing and commodity prices plunging. Why would you trust a government with this kind of a track record to keep your money safe? 

2. When? When did you abandon your values and decide that lying, cheating, stealing and breaking the law were not a problem? When did you stop caring about other people and become okay with our military bombing innocent civilians, with children in this country starving, seniors having to choose between groceries and medication, people having to work 2 or 3 jobs in order to feed their families or keep a roof over their heads, with healthcare cuts that forced mental patients onto the streets, with jobs being given to temporary foreign workers while qualified Canadians went unemployed and with a dead child being washed up on a beach on the other side of the world while we ignore a refugee crisis that we are at least partially responsible for creating with our bombs?

3. Do you have grandchildren? Do you care if they grow up to be honest, ethical, compassionate adults? Do you teach them values? Do you teach them your “new” values – the ones that you accept from your government – that the end justifies the means and it is perfectly acceptable to lie, cheat, break the law and do anything else you have to do in order to get what you want? Or do you teach them to do as I say, not as I do because that always works out so well?

4. How? How do you plan on explaining to your grandchildren that you didn’t care? You didn’t care enough about their future to stand up for healthcare, education, the environment, their rights, democracy and for honesty and decency? How will you answer if they ask why you didn’t love them enough to protect them?

5. And finally, can you give me just one reason to justify voting for this man who vowed that no one would recognize Canada when he was finished. Did you really hate our country that much the way it was? 

Canadians used to have much to be proud of and we can be proud again. Our country’s best days do not have to be behind us. October 19th may be the most important election of our lifetime. We have a choice. We can continue down this path of destruction, giving up our ideals, our freedoms, our democracy and our very identity or we can change direction and start repairing the damage, healing the wounds and restoring our standing in the world.

This is our chance to show that our generation still has values we are willing to stand up for and we can still make a difference. It is your opportunity to show your grandchildren that their futures matter and you will do everything in your power to protect them. By living your values, you will be leaving them a legacy. They will learn by your example and will never have to ask why you didn’t care. 

Marilyn Koyanagi is Baby Boomer and retiree.


15 thoughts on “A Baby Boomer’s plea: On Harper, Legacy and the Canadian election

  1. Wonderful article. I can only hope those of my generation who shared those enlightened principles, forgotten in the busy-ness of living life, now have the time to revisit their roots and to do what’s right. We can all still change the world into a better place for everyone to live in. The politicians still won’t unless they’re forced to by all of us.

  2. You forgot one teeny tiny: Harper defunded the cornerstone of democracy the ‘Court Challenges Program’ when first elected in 2006. When done he quipped, “Why should we pay for someone who goes against government policy? Besides, I won’t be doing anything unconstitutional”. Every day since then, he has broken the constitution. Only those with deep pockets are able to challenge his policies. Unfortunately, those rich folks are the base he panders to.

  3. I do not care a rats ass who gets in as a veteran i say this anyone but Harper Baby boomer or not i will be damned he besmirch what i fought for which was fairness a country with a heart and peace keeper in the world above all! The pox on him the pox on his war the pox how he treats our vets now!

  4. Couldn’t have said it better myself… Now, to be fair, none of what’s said in this piece applies to me… As a young’un I watched Dief the Chief dismantle Canada’s bright future and become the U.S.A.’s submissive lackey when the pride of Canada, the Avro Arrow, was destroyed by PC Federal Government, and while I vote in every election at all levels of Government, Ive never voted PC/CON, and I never will… I also Mostly grew up in Manitoba where I learned that the NDP and Communism (lack of common sense and freedoms) were very much synonymous which ensured that voting NDP would never be an option of where to place my vote… So, obviously, the only viable option for me has always been the Liberal Party of Canada when it came to place my vote… And the truth of the matter is, I’ve never once regretted making that choice all those many years ago… That’s not to say that I haven’t been very vocal and critical of the LPC when they strayed off course on the odd occasion… I even dropped my membership a few times over the years… As well, prior to Justin Trudeau, I’ve never voted for or supported the person that became the leader of the LPC… Which essentially means that while the LPC will always get my vote, my time and money has always had to be earned by the LPC…

    Here’s something I’ve written that may make my point of view a little clearer:

    Gunther —

    In Thursday night’s debate we saw Justin Trudeau offer Canadians strong leadership on the economy.

    And while Harper and Mulcair played their tired old politics, Justin Trudeau was the only one to present a plan to invest in Canadians and grow our economy.

    I know what it’s like to go into an election underestimated.

    Like Justin Trudeau, I have been the target of baseless, mean-spirited attacks when Liberals dared to build a better country.

    When I was first elected in 1963, we did not have medicare. We did not have the Canada Pension Plan. We did not have our own flag. We did not have a Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

    And by the time I retired in 2003, we had come a long way: Medicare, CPP, a flag, our own Constitution, our place in the world.

    It was our Liberal Government that stayed out of the War in Iraq, signed the Kyoto Protocol, and balanced the budget 7 times in a row. Unlike the other parties, Liberals are fiscally responsible and socially aware.

    We accomplished great things together – because we too believed that a better Canada is always possible. And with you standing shoulder-to-shoulder with him, Justin Trudeau will do the same.

    There’s a long road ahead until October 19. There will be ups and downs. But I can tell you to never forget this one thing: Justin Trudeau is ready to lead.

    Help us put the torch of progress and hope, abandoned by this tired old Conservative government, back into Canadians’ hands.

    Jean Chrétien

    — Jean Chrétien is absolutely correct…
    What we Liberals have to do to bring Canada back to the country it was before Harper, with the direct help of the NDP, stole Canada from Canadians and proceeded to destroy the wonderful way of life and justifiable pride we Canadians were justified in having for our great country of Canada…
    We Liberals especially will have to step up and stand up for Canada in this election with our money and our time to help our local Liberal Candidates make it over the top in every one of the 338 Canadian Electoral Districts… With a TEAM of absolutely the best Candidates ever to be assembled by any political party in Canada to run for Parliament how can we not?
    With the Liberals being the only Federal Party to have their focus on making all Canadians’ lives better via the clear and purposeful Liberal Policies and Platform being presented (better is always possible as Justin Trudeau constantly reminds us) by Justin Trudeau and his TEAM… How can we not actively go about sharing them directly with all our fellow Canadians?
    How can we liberals allow the selfish, and totally misguided, focus of winning seats in Parliament to rule over Canadians for the next few years, no matter how bad, hurtful, and untruthful, the empty platform promises Harper and Mulcair and their “Parties of One” are trying to push down the throats of Canadians without doing all we can to prevent that from happening again just as it did in 2011?

    Gunther Grosskamper —

  5. I’m not sure if I am classified as a baby boomer, since I was born in the 50s, but I sincerely hate Harper! I have NEVER EVER voted Conservative, and NEVER WILL.

    Your words are so perfectly worded and really hit the spots that for me grate against my sensitivities as well. You have described all the things that I feel so strongly about with regards to the atrocities that Stephen Harper has been allowed to do to my Canada!

    How can we possibly sway the voters who are convinced that Harper is the right way to go? Is it really true that they vote for him because they are more concerned about their wallets than their lives? Sad. Money does not make evil good!

    I have volunteered for the NDP this election because I believe that they are the party that has the best chance of returning Canada to its once glorious state! Not only can they rid us of Harper, but they have the policies that will return to citizens their rights to health care, public broadcasting, privacy, environmental protection, … the list goes on!

    Thank you for your letter!

  6. Herr Harper’s Canada, is not the Canada I was born into, not even close. The Canada which the likes of Harper and Campbell have driven us to is a pre WW 1 type of society, where everyone had their “station” in life and they kept to it.

    Education has shifted from progressive to rote memorization and those unable to keep the pace drop out to live life in a drug induced haze, not caring about anything.

    What were once good solid public institutions have been starved of cash and have wasted away to be sold off to friends of the government.

    The Corporatism have become the new Fascism, where money is all things to the powerful and they do not want to share.

    Political parties have been bought by big business (yes even the NDP) and they goose step to those who wield the real power in Canada, Bay St.

    The only real change will happen if there is a revolution in our way of thinking and in our way of democracy and the question is, will it be a “quiet” revolution or a bloody one and with the large number of discontented Millennials, who have felt cheated by previous generations, I think the latter will happen and a lot sooner than many think.

  7. Very well put and spot on , however nothing will change with this election as we have no say in parliament even, when we elect a so called representative to speak for us . Party politics and the dictator of the party rule with an iron fist when it comes to votes . Vote the way I tell you or your out , and rather than make waves , the person we have elected likes the perks , pay cheque and pension so they just go along to get along. We have no democracy left other than to sort of vote for a party that perhaps resembles ones own thoughts. We have gotten used to voting for the lesser of evils instead of voting for honourable and honest people who have and use common sense , something that over the years has somehow been bred out of us . Perhaps that can be laid right at the door of our teachers .
    We now have politicians that perhaps were well meaning and honourable when running for office , at one time, but soon changed when they realised they could do nothing so simply capitulated and decided to make a career of politics for the gravy train that forerunners had given themselves .
    Gone are the days when people came forward because they believed it was a civic duty and responsibility for the betterment of the country and society to donate their expertise in the overseeing of the way government was run . In plain vernacular , greed reared it’s ugly head .
    We do have some people that have fought back and said no more , crossed the floor or voted for the people of their riding, to their own chagrin, because voters are to stupid to realize those are the real people who should be governing , people of today such as Brent Rathgerber and Bruce Hyer who voted their conscience , common sense and their voters wishes , unlike people such as Nathan Cullen , Charlie Angus and others of that party who swore to their constituents to vote one way ,then feathered their own nests when told not to .
    We have only one choice to bring back democracy the way I see it, if we want to be run by dictators, where we have NO voice in parliament we have two choices, vote NDP or Conservative and I believe Canada has had enough of the one in power today , if you like your politics half and half, the Liberals will allow free votes sometimes , if you believe we should bring back democracy , the only vote should be either Green party or Independents as they are the ones who actually will vote as their conscience and electorate advise .
    It is a sad state of affairs that in my riding , Skeena -Bulkley Valley , I have no one to vote for as I believe both candidates to be ass kissers and one who has proven himself to be liar . So why send him back , we have enough of those in government already .

  8. This bang on, well written article should be in every newspaper in Canada be it major and local, but given that they are mostly corporate owned and thus biased to the corporate bottom line this is expecting too much and the only hope is that Canadians who planned to vote aren’t fooled by Harper and his fellow Conservatives and vote for another party that promises to address much of the issues brought up by this article writer with the idea that they will keep that party’s feet to the fire till they honor their promises.

    1. One way to introduce this article into every newspaper in Canada is to do it by writing your own comment, and include a link to this “Baby Boomer’s plea”, in the reader comments section following specific, relevant articles in those papers.

  9. You’re assuming that all baby boomers in the 60’s and 70’s were progressive thinkers along with being activists. They were’nt. The ones who were progressive thinkers, still are today and not only would they not vote for Harper, they despise him. The first group of people who supported Justin Trudeaus liberal party leadership were boomers. Also I wonder what % of boomers who support Harper are evangelical fundamentalist christians, no progressive thinking there. I just think that when they were younger these boomers who vote for Harper always were dogmatic, father knows best types. I remember them in the 60’s and how conservatively they lived their lives. They couldn’t go against mommy and daddy and the churches authority regardless of the social rebellion that was happening all around. There was enough of them that Harper got his majority from them in 2011. Hopefully everyone gets out and votes, so it won’t matter who votes for Harper in Oct. He primarily got his majority in 2011, because of low voter turn out.

    1. First of all great article!

      I was born in the mid 70’s, I am in the prime of my earning years along with most of my friends who may vote conservative although that probably won’t happen. I also happen to run an international renewable energy company and believe that subsidy is inherently progressive but I believe all subsidy should be removed; subsidies speak to status quo and yesterday, it doesn’t speak to innovation let alone change! I am also a evangelical fundamentalist Christian, this defines my faith and speaks to my deeply held personal beliefs. None of this though speaks to my political leaning.

      I am not conservative by nature, nor do I “goose step” with cronies who can’t speak there mind let alone do so without insulting others in aspects that have nothing to do with the topic at hand. Being a Christian has nothing to do with politics, it isn’t Right or Left wing, if anything the God says to love your neighbour and that historically is something that is within all of us. Being conservative used to stand for things that I believe in, for transparency in financial dealings, for living within our means, for being a good steward of what we’re given, Harper is none of these things. We all recognise it is time for change, like it was in 2011, I just hope that anger and voter apathy can subside so that a truly representative government can rise.

      Therefore I ask before rash faith based insults are thrown, please think before you post Pamela, you diminished your point by attacking people who likely in most circumstances agree with you.

    2. Agreed, Pamela MacNeil, I suspect very few of the Harper supporters were ever progressive thinkers. But they do vote!

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