Using the Leap Second to Rate Harper’s Government

Stephen Harper was late for Canada Day this year.

He missed the kick-off by a full second; or he would have but for the leap second.

None of us noticed because the scientists responsible for time (coolest job description ever) slowed down Coordinated Universal Time by adding a leap second at 23:59:60.

Before we get into why the leap second is relevant in Harperland a brief, non-Stephen Hawkings history of time is in order.

Scientists have been playing around with time since 1884 when they defined the universal day using the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England. All went well until the invention of the atomic clock which was more accurate than time based on astronomical observations. Scientists compensated for the glitch in time on the atomic clock caused by the slowing of the Earth’s rotation by adding a leap second here and there.

Since June 1972 we’ve gained 25 leap seconds. By the end of the 21st century scientists will be adding leap seconds every 250 days and by the end of a few tens of thousands of centuries they’ll be plugging in leap seconds each and every day.

This makes the time scientists very uncomfortable.*  Some think it’s time for a change. Others do not.

The anti-change scientists think we should stick with the status quo and continue to use leap seconds to adjust our clocks to Earth’s slowing rotation. They say humanity has defined time by Earth’s rotation for over 5000 years. They note that savvy IT techs can work around any computer problems created by an additional second or two and point out that abandoning leap seconds would make sundials obsolete (what, they’re not obsolete already?)

The pro-change scientists say it’s time to get rid of leap seconds and move to atomic clocks once and for all. They base their argument on the fact that defining time by Earth’s rotation is not significant in most people’s daily lives (unless they’re air traffic controllers or Goldman Sachs stock market manipulators).

Essentially the debate boils down to this: does the redefinition of time turn our lives upside down.

If the “upside down” test is good enough for time scientists fretting about events that will occur in the far distant future, surely it’s good enough for Canadians trying to decide whether to re-elect Stephen Harper a few short months from now.  

The consequences of Harper’s policies

Many Canadians think their day to day lives are untouched by the Harper government (scandals are par for the course, right?). But if Harper is re-elected they’ll soon discover that their lives have indeed been turned “upside down”.

They’ll feel the sting of sacrificing personal freedom, privacy and the right to be a citizen in return for “protection” from terrorism. (Bills C-51 and C-24).

They’ll wonder why their sense of a Canadian identity has become foggy as Harper continues to erase Canada’s legacy as peace keepers and replace it with vignettes of Canada transforming itself into a warrior nation.

They’ll be troubled by their government’s refusal to protect their environment and their livelihoods, unaware that Harper sacrificed Canada’s national sovereignty to the whims of corporations benefiting from secret trade deals which bolster global economic integration.

And finally, they’ll be helpless as Harper’s ham-fisted economic policies crush their quality of life.  They’ll struggle to feed their families, to educate their children, to heal their sick and care for their elderly as the economy contracts, social programs are cut, manufacturing jobs disappear, the income inequity gap widens, consumer debt skyrockets, the deficit rises and Canada’s debt grows.

They’ll wonder what happened to the Harper who trumpeted his economic stewardship and belittled his rivals and realize that if this is the best he can do when he’s on his game, God help us when he trips.

The results of the “upside down” test

The time scientists are supposed to vote on whether to redefine time in 2015. Whether they take the vote remains to be seen—they postponed it three times since 2003.

If they defer the vote again the consequences are insignificant. They’ll simply add another leap second to a June 30th sometime in the future.  

Unfortunately Canadians aren’t so lucky. The federal election will go ahead on Oct 19, 2015 whether they vote or not.

So let’s stop wasting time speculating about what Harper will do if he’s re-elected. Let’s focus on what he’s done to date. We don’t need to go back very far. Focus on Harper’s performance in 2015 (this is an election year, he’s supposed to be on his best behavior). Harper’s lack of respect for democracy is shameful. His anti-terrorism and economic policies are poisonous. Harper will negatively impact every man, woman and child in this country.

On Oct 19, 2015 Canadians need to tell Harper he’s run out of time.

*http://www.timeanddate.com/time/leap-seconds-future.html

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35 Responses to Using the Leap Second to Rate Harper’s Government

  1. Roy Wright says:

    I am not sure if the time scientists have made me older or younger but I vehemently disagree with what Harper has done to our identity as Canadians…it is so horrible that it is time to start the “Heave Steve” movement. Perhaps we can re-estabilish our identity both internally and externally by getting rid of this warped man in October.

  2. Roy, I join you in your vehement disagreement with Harper’s attack on our identity. He’s damaged our reputation internally and externally. In 2010 Canada lost a vote to sit on the UN Security Council to Portugal. Apparently it was the first time in 50 years that Canada failed to gain a seat.
    And his decision to give national park land to a business man so he can erect a giant monuments like Mother Canada just boggles the mind. What’s it supposed to be, the Canadian version of the Statue of Liberty?

  3. ABCanuck says:

    Susan, you wrote: “They’ll wonder what happened to the Harper who trumpeted his economic stewardship and belittled his rivals and realize that if this is the best he can do when he’s on his game, God help us when he trips.”

    Harper was elected in 2006. Starting in 2008 he has run deficits every year now totalling C$182 billion. And now we have two consecutive quarters with negative GDP growth – the technical definition of a recession -denied of course by Joe (We Are Not in a Recession) Oliver.

    Some record. Heave Steve!

    • ABCanuck: Harper’s campaign went into high gear at his Stampede pancake breakfast this weekend. He’s running with the assumption that Canadians can only hold two ideas in their heads at the same time, namely the terrorist threat (“choose security over risk”) and the economy (“choose stability over risky schemes”). He’ll engage in fear mongering to hammer home the message that only the Conservatives can protect Canadians against everything that’s out there aiming to get us. What I don’t get is how he’s going to convince Canadians that only the Conservatives can manage the economy given the botch he’s made of it so far. Maybe he believes if he says it often enough people will believe him. God help us if they do!

  4. Elaine Fleming says:

    Stephen Harper and his government have worked very hard to undermine Canadians’ confidence in themselves and their country. As well, there has been a steady grinding away at the cohesive identity we have shared as Canadians- an identity that has taken effort, leadership, negotiation/collaboration and good will over the years since we became a country. It could be even a better place, more prosperous and inclusive if we keep on that path, but with Harper at the helm all the best things about our country will disappear. A lot already has.

    When I read your post tonight, I thought of another one I saw this week, quoting Noam Chomsky who said, “As long as the general population is passive, apathetic, diverted to consumerism or hatred of the vulnerable, then the powerful can do as they please, and those who survive will be left to contemplate the consequences.”

    • Elaine, great quote from Chomsky. I’m convinced that Canadians aren’t going to sit this one out. One reason why I say that is that the same thing is starting to happen with Mulcair as happened with Notley, namely my daughter’s Facebook page is filling up with pro-Mulcair posts. Young people are very concerned about Bills C-51 and C-24, with good reason. Let’s not forget that the crackdown on protesters at the 2010 G-7 and G-20 meetings in Toronto resulted in the largest mass arrest in Canadian history. Turns out that causing “embarrassment to the Government” was classified as a threat to national security–and that was before the enactment of C-51. Kids are also worried that C-24 will impact their freedom to travel, study and work elsewhere. One kid wondered whether she’s at risk of losing her citizenship because she’s chosen to go abroad for university. Under Harper the answer could turn on where she goes to school, what she studies and whether she’s involved in any protests. Who knows.

      • Elaine Fleming says:

        Susan, perhaps you have seen the CBC news story about the small charity “Canada Without Poverty” taking their human rights case to the United Nations over the considerable harassment the Harper government has visited upon them through tax audits. “Canada Without Poverty is among 60 charities being hit with political-activity investigations under a $13.4-million special program by the Canada Revenue Agency. The group has been under continuous audit for three years.”

        Last fall I thought this was a hoax: an Ontario birdwatchers group getting nailed because they asked Harper’s environment minister Leona Aglukkaq to consider banning certain pesticides to save Canada’s bee population. Unfortunately the story is true, and the effect, naturally, of these actions by the Conservative government is to terrify all these charity groups into towing the line on advocacy and/or criticism of said government.http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/revenue-canada-targets-birdwatchers-for-political-activity-1.2799546 .

        As you know, I belong to a (very grassroots) citizen’s advocacy group in Edmonton called the Whitemud Citizens for Public Health. Last March, on the anniversary of the expiration of the Canadian Health Accord (and non-renewal of same by the Harper government) we went to federal health minister Rona Ambrose’s office to ask for a meeting to plead our case for national leadership on health care for Canadians and a renewal of the Accord. Minister Ambrose wasn’t there, so we left a letter with our request. Her young staff had no idea what the Canadian Health Accord was. Anyway, we never got a meeting, nor even a polite reply- which spelled out clearly to us the support the Harper government has for Canadian Medicare, but mostly the disdain they have for the citizenry.

        Our group is made up of ordinary people in the south west constituency of Edmonton-Whitemud. Our federal riding is Edmonton-Leduc, where our Conservative MP, James Rajotte has announced he won’t be running again. We are non-partisan, but pay close attention to the health and seniors platforms of the various political parties. We don’t get funding from anywhere, thank goodness- otherwise, I’m sure I would be writing to you from a gulag somewhere. Unless I was in “lockdown” or something.

        I think you are right, Canadians are realizing what is at risk in the upcoming election: not just the demise of our economy and jobs, environment and health care, but more fundamentally our very democratic freedoms.

      • Elaine, I thank my lucky stars that you and others in the Whitemud Citizens For Public Health advocacy group are holding the Harper government to account on the healthcare file. As you point out it is no small task given Harper’s abhorrence for medicare. When he first came to power he engaged in covert attacks on universal healthcare but as he’s become more comfortable (arrogant?) his intentions are pretty obvious. He wants to dump healthcare on to the provinces lock, stock and barrel. Roy Romanow says this will weaken Canada’s public healthcare system and open the door to further privatization. This fits perfectly with Harper’s ideological position that the free market can do everything better than the government. I just wish he’d have the courage to spell out his position in this election so Canadians who haven’t been paying attention would wake up and vote him out of power. Harper being honest with voters…? Susan you’re a dreamer.

  5. Leila Keith says:

    Heave Steve is a good sentiment right now for how I feel Harper has trashed and let Canadians down with his policies.Canadians should give him the boot.

    • Leila, I’m with you. I wish his supporters would google “what Stephen Harper did wrong”. The list will boggle their minds. Anyone who thinks this man cares about democracy and society should give their heads a shake.

  6. Carlos Beca says:

    Susan I have the same opinion you do on Stephen Harper. I have a hard time believing that he is actually admired by so many people. Reading the last issue of Mother Jones makes be think that we in general are suffering from brain diseases that are not yet discovered caused by excess pollution. Mother Jones suggests that there is a link between pollution and dementia. I believe the current world politics is a good example of some serious problem.

    Another magazine, The Walrus, has just changed editor in chief to Jonathan Kay who I expected to be at least a moderate. Reading the very first editorial which can be found at this URL http://thewalrus.ca/editors-note-12-3/ just made me shake my head.
    I do not want to take anything out of context and that is why I provided the URL but here is what Jonathan Kay as to say about our prime minister while talking about our insecurities as Canadians:

    ‘This attitude is gone—or at least very much on the wane. Whatever you may think about the way Stephen Harper has changed Canada, it is undeniable that we have become a richer, more interesting, and less insecure country than we were just a decade ago. I’ve lost count of the number of international surveys that Canada (and Toronto, its largest city) now tops. Ambitious Canadians in every field have better reasons to stick around than they did even a few years ago.’

    Furthermore he says this about Conrad Black while explaining the negative points about the US:

    ‘And we ignored America’s domestic disgraces, such as its status as the only developed country in the world that denied citizens universal health care. It wasn’t until Conrad Black got thrown into jail that many Canadian conservatives educated themselves about the appallingly rigged nature of the US criminal justice system. (One of the reasons that Black has been able to rehabilitate his reputation since returning to Canada is that his book-length critique of the American “prosecutocracy” was compelling to readers on all points of the political spectrum.)’

    Well Susan many heads need a shake. Conrad Black is apparently innocent.
    Enough said

    • Carlos, I’m baffled by the appointment of Jonathan Kay to editor in chief of The Walrus. I subscribed to magazine because I thought it hit the right balance between left and right leaning articles. However Kay’s conservative ideological slant (which is evident in the editorial you’ve attached as well as his appointment as visiting Fellow at the Federation for Defense of Democracies, a conservative think tank based in Washington DC, etc) lead me to believe he will take the magazine much further to the right. Sadly, if there’s one thing we don’t need, it’s another conservative magazine. I’m going to let my subscription lapse.

      • Carlos Beca says:

        So am I. I actually wrote Jonathan Kay on this editorial but I got no answer. I am sure I was not the only one. The Walrus was a very balanced magazine and I read it since its inception. I am not sure why MacFarlane chose Jonathan Kay but I suspect that the objective is to keep the magazine afloat and more money can come from the right wing side. I am profoundly disappointed.

  7. I’m very concerned about the apparent lack of interest in the upcoming federal election, although I’m hearing more and more “conservative”-types recognizing that Harper treats the office of the PM as though he’s an elected dictator. Hitler was, and we’re in unrepairable trouble, if Canadians vote Harper back in, even as part of a coalition

    • Ellen, you’ve raised a very important point and that’s the lack of interest in the upcoming federal election. People like us (some call us the “hyper-engaged”) need to be reminded that while we’re following every new announcement about the three parties’ platforms and will be glued to the political debates, most Canadians won’t tune in until the very end, if at all. And then all they catch is a snappy slogan which equates Harper with economy security and bingo, another Conservative vote. Having said that there is a bubbling desire for change; hopefully it will burst through on election day.

      • I tend to be relatively quiet about politics, when I’m unsure about the people I’m talking to, but I feel that the survival of our country , and our planet hinges on this election, so I’m letting my passion show. One thing that causes me a lot of hope is the increased engagement of the indigenous people across the country. In fact, I’ve really stumbled into increased political involvement, thanks to the Idle No More movement.

      • I like your approach Ellen. Also it looks like the Assembly of First Nations is all over this election. Grand Chief Derek Nepinak told the attendees at the AFN annual meeting that the election “is a matter of national importance, and there should be no greater effort put forward by us in the coming weeks and into the coming months.” If Canada’s indigenous population gets involved this could tip the balance and put Harper out on his ear.

  8. GoinFawr says:

    “They’ll be troubled by their government’s refusal to protect their environment and their livelihoods, unaware that Harper sacrificed Canada’s national sovereignty to the whims of corporations benefiting from secret trade deals which bolster global economic integration.”

    “troubled”? Susan, you are a master of understatement.

    Two relevant quotes to bear in mind for anyone who has the modicum of self respect required to bother participating in the upcoming federal election:

    “And we cannot be effective at major economic matters any longer unless we work with our economic partners around the world and work with them closely and intimately. That is essential. I know some people don’t like it. It is a loss of National Sovereignty but it is a simple reality. It is a simple reality.”
    – Prime Minister Stephen Harper (Conservative)

    “We’re gonna have to give up a little bit of our sovereignty to make the world work”
    – Former Prime Minister/Finance Minister Paul Martin (Liberal)

    Here is the only reason Canada’s loss of sovereignty is a ‘simple reality’: because the Federal Liberal and Conservative governments of Canada, both, have realized that loss through the exponential expansion of the national debt owed to private foreign interests after handing over control of Canadians’ money supply to those same interests in 1974.

    Voters, slight these facts at your peril; 4 decades later and they’re closing in on their endgame.

    • Carlos Beca says:

      Great point – this has been the policy of both the Liberals and Conservatives and it is very easy to understand. For the elites the world really does not have borders. They can go anywhere they want and can get money in any bank they want and with globalization they can run their companies from anywhere with the cheapest labour costs.
      This is the reason for Stephen Harper’s comment above. He will trade Canada’s sovereignty for the benefit of his master’s interests and with some luck his own interests in the future. After all they all consider themselves billionaires in waiting. Furthermore they blindly believe in the market and predatory capitalism no matter what. Remember this is a concept past to us by God.
      It is truly treason as far as I am concerned.
      The real problem is that the domination of the money world is so strong that it is going to take way more than a change of political party to fix this mess. Greece is clearly showing to us what the citizens or democracy really matter.

    • GowinFawr, “troubled” was indeed an understatement. Upon reflection I think I should have said “blindsided”. Sadly, they’ll be caught unawares not because of a lack of notice that this god awful situation is coming to a head, but because as you correctly point out, they haven’t paid the slightest bit of attention as Harper, Martin and others were slowly moving their pieces down the chess board.

      Carlos, your comment about money knowing no borders reminded me of something Jim Prentice said when he was still a senior VP at CIBC. He was carping about Harper’s lack of success with the Northern Gateway and Keystone pipelines. He made the usual comments about the pipeline’s need to have social license (frankly I don’t know what that means anymore) and said money is “fungible” and will go where it will generate profit. He made it sound like water flowing to the point of least resistance, but when we learned about fungibility in law school it was a broader concept which included the notion that some things are identical, a bushel of grain is exactly like another bushel of grain, it really doesn’t matter who sells it to you. And therein lies the problem. One trade deal is not like another trade deal anymore. In the old days the government went on trade missions trying to impress foreign companies with their support for various domestic industries. All that changed when the Canadian government signed a string of trade deals which opened the government up to billion dollar lawsuits from foreign companies if the government dared to pass tougher environmental regulations or enforce patent laws which make pharmaceuticals cheaper. These trade deals upped the ante for all Canadians by throwing our national sovereignty into the pot and the government didn’t bother to tell us about it until it was all over.

      • carlosbeca says:

        Wait for when the TPP gets approved. It will be an interesting time indeed.
        So do you still have any doubt a serious revolution is coming? I do not at all and I will add a little change to my prediction – it is almost obvious now that it will not be a peaceful one either.

      • Carlos, further to your point about the TPP making times even more interesting, I just finished George Monbiot’s article on the showdown between Greece and the troika, things are getting pretty intense out there! Here’s the link: http://www.monbiot.com/2015/07/08/3796/

      • Carlos Beca says:

        Susan thank you for the link. This colonialism is reaching epic proportions and it comes from the same people that acused other countries of colonialism not too long ago. As soon as they had a chance they became the torturers themselves. It is so darn disgusting that deserves a strong reaction and soon. Where is the European Community? Angela Merkel took over along with puppet Francois Holand and the very principled IMF and the European Central Bank whos is negotiating to save both Germany and France from a disaster due to their exposure to the Greek debt.
        This is going to have a bad end and I personally do hope so because unfortunately human beings do not deserve much better.
        Canada and the US are pretending that nothing is going on. How can we mess with the European elites. After all we will do the same here if it comes to that.

  9. Hola: just wanted to say I appreciate your writing, perspectives and sense of humour – gracias! 🙂 LCA

      • carlosbeca says:

        Sorry I get so mad at this issues that I forgot to tell you that I truly enjoyed the article.
        Thank you

      • You’re welcome Carlos. I read another interesting article about the Greek situation which pointed out that the debt obligation was originally held by Goldman Sachs and other investment banks and then unloaded on to the EU. The point of the article was that the investment banks are in the business of assessing and accepting risk, sovereign nations are not and for the EU to complain about this after it accepted the risk is hypocritical. Interesting point. Like you said, the line between the IMF, the ECB and the EU is an illusion.

      • Carlos Beca says:

        Susan the line is indeed and illusion and the biggest problem is that the line between Germany and all of them is also an illusion. Germany is in fact controlling the European Community and exporting 40% of its manufacturing to them all. It is a position difficult to give up and in my opinion these draconian rules against Greece are just a way to keep them weak and dependent. This is not new and in the times when political correctness did not exist it was called colonialism. The IMF is the US and the European Bank is Germany and so it is not difficult to figure out what is going on.
        The world is going to suffer an enormous convulsion soon – it is interesting to note what Voltaire wrote in his times

        ‘ Doctors are men who prescribe medicines of which they know little, to cure diseases of which they know less, for human beings of which they know nothing’

        Not much has changed. Democracy, just like we just witnessed in Greece is another illusion created to keep the masses worried about their freedom while the elites enjoy their meagre fortunes.
        Just like bad communism, predator capitalism is imploding and so far the replacement seems to be more of the same with different names. This time it could be called Neo-Socialism.

        I use to laugh when my grandfather, one of the great man I had the pleasure to meet in my life, use to tell me that life itsefl is an illusion. I use to get really puzzled about it but I am starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

      • Carlos, I wonder how this situation will resolve itself. The Greeks voted to continue to negotiate, which is likely the responsible thing to do, but they don’t have much maneuvering room. Nevertheless the troika has overplayed its hand. The longer this situation drags on the more support the Greeks are getting. Here’s Murray Dobbin’s take on it: http://murraydobbin.ca/2015/07/10/we-are-all-or-should-be-greeks-now/

      • Carlos Beca says:

        Good Question Susan but judging by today’s episode none of them really know. Now apprarently there are 2 blocs, one that wants to suspend Greece from the Eurozone, and another that wants more negotiations to help Greece stay in. The first of course is headed by Germany and Finland and the second by Italy and France. Not surprising for those who know a bit about European politics. I will stop here so that I do not cross the political correctness line on your blog.
        I can only say that if I was a Greek I would rather take the hard road and leave the Eurozone but try to regain independence. It is going to be a long hard process but I do not think that staying in the Eurozone is going to be any easier. They are now the black sheep of the community and they will be hit hard. Just like in Portugal and Spain they will drag the situation until the public assets are worth almost nothing and then they will sell it to their friends in the private sector for peanuts and under the usual privatization banner. This is a very well known game known to those who have been in similar processes especially in Russia after the fall of Mikhail Gorbachev. They are all super bilionaires. The neo-liberals took over power in the EU and the rest is history. I totally agree with Murray Dobbin.

        There are some interesting stuff out there but I thought this one to be interesting because it does not scare people as much as others which I was told were too radical. Obviously in today’s extra security world I do not want to sound too radical. 🙂

        http://rt.com/shows/keiser-report/273097-episode-max-keiser-782/

      • carlosbeca says:

        By the way if you have time watch the ones on Greece which are right before this one.

      • carlosbeca says:

        sorry for the confusion but the one on Greece is 280

      • Carlos I checked out the link, (I think you meant Episode 780) and found it very informative once I got past Max Keiser’s peculiar personality. He and his guests provided a good explanation for why former Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis accused Greece’s creditors of terrorism–they said that the troika violated one of the key principles under which countries join the EU when they withdrew financial liquidity from the Greek banks. Clearly they wanted to create fear in the Greek people in order to pressure them to vote YES. They must have been stunned when the majority came back with NO. As this situation plays out over the next few months and we get a better understanding of what actually happened, support for the Greek people will grow. Interesting times we live in!

  10. david swann says:

    Clear and cogent call for change at the federal level. Thankyou Susan!
    and don’t forget the decimation of our national treasure – the CBC.

    • David, you make an excellent point about the CBC. It’s almost impossible to hold the Harper government accountable for anything given Harper’s systematic elimination of all the ways in which we can measure the success or failure of his government. The elimination of the long form census is but one example. Add to this his attack on public media and we fall into a black hole. Other media outlets try to fill the void but it would appear that Harper can reach into their organizations as well to stifle investigative journalism. Pulitzer price winning journalist Paul Watson recently left the Toronto Star because it refused to let him publish what he says is the real story behind the search for the ships lost in the Franklin expedition. He says a person close to the PMO’s office interfered with how the story was reported. I don’t know whether this is true, but the fact that we all think it could be true shows you how little faith we have in the PM.

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