A new landscape

G20 shows the type of Canada Harper wants


A new world order is upon us, and the tip of that spear lanced the T-dot last weekend on both sides of the security perimeter.

Indeed, before we called him prime minister, Stephen Harper said that if we gave him the chance, he’d change Canada beyond recognition. Folks, he’s doing what he said he’d do.

Looking beyond the obvious police state accessories like tear gas, riot police and mass holding cells, I found myself in the midst of the mayhem on Saturday and Sunday thinking a lot about the company Harper’s keeping these days on the world stage.

One new buddy, Colombia, with which we’ve just signed a free trade deal, has soldiers patrolling the streets of Bogotá daily. It’s a country with extreme polarization between rich and poor, whose government has been implicated in paramilitary human rights abuses. We used to distance ourselves from regimes like this. Now we court them.

There’s more: once upon a time we assumed that past battles on the home front, whether for access to safe legal abortions or old age security, were won and won forever.

Now we find that our government is willing to walk away from over 60 years of consensus-building on both domestic and foreign policy issues by trading away economic sovereignty in the name of ideology.

And so the European Union, another delighted dance partner currently talking free trade with Canada, has designs, according to Maude Barlow of the Council of Canadians, on our vast supply of fresh water and our precious public health care system.

People aren’t happy – and I don’t mean the Black Bloc mayhem-makers. Just before the G8 leaders began arriving, I was talking with west-end residents about drug dealers and their customers who’ve taken over the local park. They say there’s nothing for youth to do but get mixed up with gangs, and you know there’s not much money for community projects.

Well, now they know there’s big money for all sorts of security and policing, just not the kind they need. Harper’s Canada will give us a new law-and-order bill, the partial cost of which parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page estimates at $5 billion a year by 2015. And if we don’t like temporary detention centres at old film studios, relax, this plan will require the building of 13 more prisons.

People are barely getting by, and they’re not going to smash a Starbucks, but they don’t fit in to Harper’s Canada either.

It’s no coincidence that the obscene display of security gear on the streets and the vandalism that ensued occurred at a summit of world leaders that produced a greater obscenity: an austerity agreement that will only visit more pain on middle- and low-income folks here and those on the front lines of the climate change war abroad.

The Harper-led summit opted to put cowboy capitalism back in the saddle. It’s not just our streets we have to take back. [rssbreak]

Andrew Cash is the federal NDP candidate for Davenport riding.

news@nowtoronto.com

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