Okay Stephen, now I’m ******* ticked off.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Langevin Building
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa ON K1A 0A6

Mr. Harper:

As a polite Canadian, I’d like to be able to write a proper, respectful salutation; unfortunately, I have seen no evidence of respectful governance to warrant one.

This is my second open letter to you. You obviously did not heed (or read) the first one, shortly after you were elected, discussing your obligations to the more than half of Canadian voters who did not vote for you. You have, it seems, forgotten all about that particular 60% of us, but WE ARE STILL HERE. And some of us are very angry.

I already knew that I disagreed with almost everything you stand for. You glorify militarism; you want to mess with socialized medicine; you revere corporations.

You are an expert sneak, taking transparency and accountability to a new low – and no wonder, because if you were open about your dealings, people might realize that you are a disgrace to the nation. They might object to your deregulation of everything for your own purposes.

I have been unimpressed (read: disgusted) by many things you have accomplished (e.g. G20 summit) and worked on (e.g. fighter jet boondoggle) since you came into office. That robocall we received didn’t go over well either.

But still, somehow, I retained an apparently preposterous hope that you would not actually — rape — Canada.


Now it is clear that I was hopelessly naive. Assuming that Bill C-38 is the crystallization of your intentions, it’s official:

You are effing up my country.

Your Omnibus bill, which is cunningly called the “Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act” but seems to be code for “a bill so long and miscellaneous that nobody will bother to address the evil embedded within”, attacks things I consider to be the foundation of Canada:

  • the safety and security of our water supply,
  • the safety and security of our food supply,
  • fair wages and working conditions,
  • old age security,
  • social assistance,
  • the Fisheries Act,
  • the rights of First Nations peoples,
  • and especially, from every conceivable angle, our environment.

As people who know me will attest, this last one really gets under my skin. I’ve never understood people who don’t see environmental destruction as “their problem”; this obtuseness is even more confounding in a national leader. As if it weren’t enough to flip the bird at climate change policy, “undo decades of environmental law, profoundly degrade the Canadian government’s ability to defend our environment, and give the fossil fuel industry free rein to build pipelines and recklessly expand the oil sands, largely unchecked by environmental regulations or public participation,” you’ve also started a smear campaign against environmental charities, implying deceitful financial practices.

Ha ha, Mr. Harper. THAT’S RICH.

It’s also petty, simpleminded, and immature.

To be clear, I am almost as disappointed in the Senate right now as I am with you. It was expected that they would bring up problems with your bill and rake it over the coals. Instead, they acknowledged that there are problems with the bill, but gave the green light anyway. All this despite the fact that “critics, including former Conservative ministers, say it undermines democracy by repealing, amending or overhauling so many pieces of legislation in one bill, without allowing time for debate“.

Honestly, Mr. Harper, what are you thinking? What are you trying to achieve?

I am asking these questions in all sincerity. I try to imagine what your end goal is, and I am at a loss. You’re the Prime Minister; don’t you want to leave a legacy that people admire? Don’t you want to make this country better than you found it, in some way? Don’t you want to be remembered as a leader who positively impacted the lives of Canadians?

Right now, you seem to be doing your utmost to weaken our country – in terms of public health, natural resources, international reputation, and democracy itself. You are even, despite posturing to the contrary, weakening our economy: last time I checked, axing large swathes of professionals (who don’t happen to agree with you), destroying the sustainability of fisheries, and depressing wages across the board was not the way to spur Canada’s economic growth.

You have children – do you really want their home to be an ugly, poisonous mess?

Suncor company mining for oil from tarsand. Alberta, Canada

Do you want them to live in a place that says “Screw you” to all who are down on their medical or financial luck? Do you want them to know that when their dad says “Sorry”, even to large groups of his compatriots whose living conditions remind us of third-world countries, it’s actually bullsh*t?

attawapiskat via toronto sun photo by christopher kataquapit

Do you want the concept of true government to be a joke to them, in the face of corporatocracy? Or will all of Canada actually be owned by the U.S. by the time your children enter the workforce?

I wonder what motivates you. All I can come up with is that you must owe your life to someone at Enbridge. Or perhaps they’re bribing you with millions of dollars. If not, I might have to start believing in minions of Satan. (That sounds like a joke. I’m really not sure it is.)

There is a lot being written about Bill C-38 right now. Many articles and letters I’ve read maintain that this bill attacks “traditional Canadian values”. Canadians as a group may have some difficulty defining our identity, but I agree that our values are under siege. I’m not going to try to define Canadian values on behalf of others, but I know what I value, as a Canadian.

I would like to live in a country that does not seek to create enemies, but rather to make and keep peace.

A country governed by people who listen to their constituents and also speak to them straightforwardly, with openness.

Where we can be certain our food and water meet high standards of quality.

Where guns designed to kill people are unattainable.

Where developmental projects must undergo rigourous study to ensure they don’t endanger our livelihoods or surroundings.

Where everyone who needs medical help can get it, without going into debt.

Where people who come here for a better life can find one.

Where the most downtrodden among us are offered the means to escape misery.

A country known around the world as forward-thinking, clean, and compassionate.

I want this place to be here, Canada.


I guess maybe this is a childish, sentimental, overly rhapsodic pipe dream. Obviously, Mr. Harper, you do not want to live in the same country I do. Maybe most Canadians would prefer to live in your version of Canada.

But I rather think not. I don’t think I am alone in wanting to live in a nation that’s beautiful, peaceful, healthy, and just – and wanting the same for my children, and theirs.

Kindly remember who elected you, who didn’t, and whose country this is. It’s ALL OF OURS.

Yours in outrage,

D. Stephens


Dear Canadian readers,

What are your Canadian values? It would mean a lot to hear what you think. If you’re so inclined, please share this with others who might contribute their views.

More reading on Bill C-38:

Read the whole document! If you want.

Macleans Magazine’s A rough guide to Bill C-38, by Aaron Wherry.

May Day, m’aidez“, by Briony Penn.

Omnibus bill shows contempt for Parliament, by Steve May.

Off the environmental hook, by David Suzuki.

If you want to protest with your virtual signature, see Green Party’s Petition to Stop Bill C-38.


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