Sunday, June 03, 2012

Russ Hiebert, Invisible Man

That would be our Member of Parliament in front of the window, stepping up to the microphone to extend support for the local arts. He certainly cuts a fine figure, doesn’t he.

The event was the grand opening of a new facility for our local arts council, Semiahmoo Arts, a group that helps provide cultural opportunities for a community of 100,000 people.

The local MLA sent a beautiful plaque with congratulations, the City of White Rock’s acting mayor gave congratulatory remarks, City of Surrey had a representative in attendance, but our Member of Parliament?

As always, he was a no-show. I understand he kept up his usual practice of not bothering to even reply to the invitation which asked him to attend and participate.

Earlier in the day, a group of constituents rallied outside Hiebert’s office. They would have gladly gone in to speak with their elected representative, but alas, the door was locked. That same door had been locked when a previous delegation had wanted to speak to him about environmental issues. On that occasion, word was that he’d had the office locked, fearing that violence might occur.

That must have been the case this time as well. After all, the group in the photo looks like a pretty rowdy bunch.

All they’d wanted to talk about was Bill C-38 the omnibus budget bill. And we weren’t the only ones concerned about this bill. Protests took place across the country. There was even one outside Steve Harper’s office in Calgary.

I’d always understood a budget to be a financial plan. My dictionary even agrees, defining the word as meaning ‘an itemized summary of expected income and expenditure over a specified time.’

The bill in question, hundreds of pages long, is not so much a budget as a manifesto.

Rather than concerning itself with numbers, it appears to set policy – on issues that range from archival holdings (digitize ‘em) to habitat (don’t bother protecting it unless something there makes a profit) to scientific research (so what if that facility solved the problem of acid rain, shut it down – what do scientists know anyway?).

It also sets rules for reporting viral outbreaks in fish farms: Not permitted unless the sanctioned government department has already reported same.

Only this might be tricky, as nearly all of the environmental scientists on this coast have either been ‘let go’ or relocated to Ottawa or other places in Canada where they have little chance of encountering any body of water that might contain salt, or for that matter, fish.

But Russ, dear Russ, rather than wanting to talk with constituents about matters such as these, he was his usual invisible self.

Maybe he was too busy praying for the salvation our unworthy souls.Though I suspect that, if indeed he was praying, it was in hopes that those of us who still believe in democracy would just shut up and go away.


Janet Vickers said...

Well said Heidi. How has it come to this?

hg said...

It's crazy, isn't it. All I can theorize is that the forces on the right managed to unify themselves enough to present a singular choice, where the left managed to get itself so broken into bits, no single part of it could garnish enough of the vote.
The really frightening part though is that Harper warned us in advance. As Gary Geddes pointed out in his brilliant letter to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, Harper once told a U.S. Chamber of Commerce audience that his country was worse than the worst socialist nation in Europe and boasted that he planned to change all that, making it unrecognizable. Sadly for us, that's exactly what he's doing.