Vindictive ideology makes us all look bad

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Pontiac Perspective  Peter J. Gauthier


Pontiac Perspective  Peter J. Gauthier

The North-South Institute (NSI) is closing its doors. For many people this may not seem like a big deal; they may not be sure just what the NSI does or what its importance is. Founded in 1976, NSI is a policy research institution or think-tank based in Ottawa, specializing in international development and policies for aid to third-world countries.  NSI has been recognized by the United Nations for its fact-based approach to international issues and it is acknow-ledged as the world’s top ranking think-tank for any organization with a budget of less than $5 million    dollars per year.
So, with this reputation, why is it closing? Simple – the Harper government has discontinued its financial assistance. In its detailed analysis, NSI made some minor            criticisms of Harper’s     foreign policy and direction and now must face the revenge of the Tories.
This is just the latest action of a vindictive       ideology that has come to characterize the Harper government especially with its majority in parliament. It may be natural for any person, organization, or government to defend itself against criticism and opposition. However, in a democratic country we expect fair, open debate – not the use of brute power to silence criticism.  In the short term these power acts may succeed in stifling opposition to specific    government policies and actions, but they do not go unnoticed. Canada’s reputation at the United Nations and at such events as climate control discussions has suffered greatly. And it is only a matter of time before the consequences of the short sightedness of these policies affect Canadians directly.
The big question for Canadians now is how to undo these destructive decisions and return Canada to a position of respect and consideration both internationally and at home. This must start with a fair and educated look at government actions and a reflection on whether these really reflect the kind of Canada we want. We have already lost major research programs in environmental science, have had funding for adult education cut from the federal budget, and have seen severe limitations placed on charitable organizations.
An informed public depends on fact-based research – the results of which may not be in   accordance with policies and doctrines of the government. In our complex world, we need different ways of looking at       problems. Then, with open access to all possible     solutions, search for the        best – which may be a combination of features from     proposals coming from different sources.