Sunday, October 07, 2007

Stephen Harper's Open Agenda And What It Means for Autism in Canada

Stephen Harper can be accused of many things. He is, IMHO, an arrogant, rigid, individual who would be right at home in the inner circles of George W. Bush and Richard Cheney both in terms of political philosophy and style of government. Harper is an autocratic leader who rules his party with an iron fist. There is no room for independent thought or expression in the Stephen Harper Reform party which has, with the cooperation of a gullible Peter MacKay, stolen the Conservative label from the true Conservative party of Sir John A. MacDonald, John Diefenbaker, Robert Stanfield and Joe Clark.

Stephen Harper is all these things, but it is difficult for anyone to credibly claim that he has a "hidden agenda" as some pundits have done. Stephen Harper has been very open about his goals and his agenda. If Stephen Harper is granted majority control of Canada he will immediately begin the dismantling of our federal government reducing it to nothing more than a shell of what it is today. The result will be the dismantling of medicare, a program which has served Canadians across Canada so well for generations. Medicare coverage of ABA for autism? Not under Harper rule. It is naive to think otherwise.

The tool Harper will use to dismantle the strong federal government is simple. He will introduce plans to formally limit Ottawa's power to spend in areas of provincial jurisdiction. With restrictions on federal spending the federal government will shrink as Harper has always wanted. Federal oversight of medicare will disappear and with it any chance of a National Autism Strategy in Canada or medicare coverage of autism. The ability of autistic children in Canada to receive proper treatment for their autism disorder will depend entirely upon accidents of geography. If they live in Saskatchewan they will get little or nothing. If they move next door to Alberta they will have full coverage.

Many autism advocates, from all regions of Canada, and from all political party backgrounds, are determined to fight hard for a National Autism Strategy of substance, something more than a mediocre web page and a secretive, orchestrated, Autism Symposium of government selected delegates. To have hope of being successful in realizing the dream of a National Autism Strategy one thing is clear - we must do our best to contribute to the political demise of the Harper government.

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