If one needs proof the heavy hand wielded by the prime minister is cold, one need only look at the latest crisis to befall our MPs and their staff in Ottawa.
The plants must go.
Wasting lord knows how much time ferreting out the greenery some of the MPs — in particular, those devilish NDPers — had hidden away, Stephen Harper has decreed all plants are government property if they’re in government offices and far too costly to water on a regular basis.
According to the CBC, the Department of Public Works downloaded the cost of watering the plants to various departments, which have to decide by April of 2015 if they will take on this onerous responsibility.
Apparently, according to documentation, it costs the Department of National Defence alone $300,000 a year to keep those green things green.
The House of Commons, one such “department,” has decided it isn’t going to do this and will instead sell the plants online.
Many plants have already been sold in this way and, according to the memo issued by the House’s sergeant-at-arms, were “escorted by House of Commons employees” out of their cubbyholes, nooks and window sills — to where? It’s hard to say since one would assume anyone can buy a plant through the online process.
I doubt these employees are going to hitch a ride on a plane to ensure the plants make it to their destination — but who knows?
Apparently MPs and staff can bring in their own plants, but they have to water them.
Which begs the question — why can’t they do that for the plants already there?
We shouldn’t be surprised, however, since it became apparent last year that nothing is sacred to Harper.
Take his Fahrenheit 451 policy on books.
Books are bad, apparently, so bad we must rid our libraries of them.
Hence the closure of seven of the 11 Department of Fisheries and Oceans libraries, which saw books simply tossed into dumpsters.
The remaining four DFO libraries are split between B.C. and Nova Scotia.
A flatbed truck was required to carry away the history of Canadian water, as had been collected by the Freshwater Institute at the University of Manitoba.
While Harper’s helpers have insisted the works are being digitized, late last year, Mike D’Souza, Postmedia News’s former parliamentary reporter on the environment — he was one of four of the chain’s reporters in its Parliament bureau to be laid off last week — accessed a document marked as “secret” that said the books are to be culled and that the savings would be about $450,000 a year.
Let’s be fair — when the Citizenship and Immigration Library was shut down by the Harper government in 2012, the documents were scanned but, because they were all written by third parties, copyright law precluded the government’s right to store those digitized versions.
Instead, the virtual library is now housed in a private facility in Laval, Que.
The government says it can still access them online when it needs to — but I wonder what the cost is to do so.
Earlier this year, it was revealed even more government departments will be eliminating or consolidating — whatever that means — their libraries.
The list includes Health Canada, the Transportation Safety Board, Parks Canada, the Public Service Commission, the Canadian Revenue Agency, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada and the Canadian Transportation Agency.
That’s a lot of information at risk and yet another reason to be concerned about what Canada will be once the Harper regime comes to an end.
Unlike a plant, it’s easy to destroy a book — but not so easy to bring it back to life again.
Dale Bass is a reporter with Kamloops This Week.