Villain: Stephen Harper, Jim Flaherty, et al.
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Villain: Stephen Harper, Jim Flaherty, et al.

Torontoist is ending the year by naming our Heroes and Villains of 2007––the people, places, and things that we’ve either fallen head over heels in love with or developed uncontrollable rage towards over the past twelve months. Get your dose, starting Boxing Day and running into the new year, three times a day––sunrise, noon, and sunset.
Probably the most stirring piece of art displayed in Toronto this year, Scott Sørli’s “Common Sense Revolution” [PDF] juxtaposed the rise and fall of welfare rates in Ontario with totemically-stacked lists of the names of the homeless men and women who died in this city each year from 1985-2006. The relationship between social-assistance rates and the well-being of society’s most vulnerable isn’t in itself surprising; what’s revelatory is the confirmation of the suspicion that Mike Harris and the Progressive Conservatives who ran this province from 1995-2003 are responsible, directly or indirectly, for more deaths and the ruination of more lives than any of the most notorious killers in this country’s history. Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka murdered three, maybe four, people; Mike Harris and his buddies took out seven in Walkerton alone.
And entrusting those buddies (such as Jim Flaherty, formerly Ontario’s Finance Minister, now the federal government’s) with the whole damn country has led to predictable results, as they continue to gleefully starve the social programs and urban centres that they first decimated a decade ago, while applying the same tough love on a nationwide scale. When Harris’s spiritual successor, Stephen Harper, came with Flaherty to Toronto in September to announce that their government had even more money than expected and, guess what, it’s all going to tax cuts, it was as though Bazis International had held a press conference at Seaton House to proclaim the addition of another dozen storeys to 1 Bloor East.
Those who give the Conservatives the benefit of the doubt attribute their attitude to an evangelical faith in the redemptive power of the free market––but there comes a certain point at which it’s more comforting to think of our leaders as selfish and cruel rather than intractably deluded.
Photo from the Darryl Wolk Blog.