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Saturday, May 18 2024 @ 02:36 MDT

The Conservative version of Democracy

Canadian PoliticsIt is often apparent that what a given word means varies from person to person. For example, what I define as fun may not be what you see as fun. Generally these variances in definition are in the application of the word (such as fun) than the literal meaning. So I see the word democracy as a government that is chosen by the people (all the people). This government governs through consultation with the people to ensure that what the government is doing is what the people want. Further, this government doesn't act in secret, for if it does, the people can't make a proper decision on if the government is doing what the people want. So basically, in my view, for democratic government to work, there must be openness on the part of the government so that the people can hold the government accountable for its actions. The people must also be free to express their views without fear of bullying from the government and its supporters. With this in place, democracy can work and work for the people. Unfortunately, the action of the current federal Conservatives seems to be contrary to this view of open and accountable democratic government.

First the openness. We have a government that seems to go out of its way to prevent what they're thinking or doing getting out to the public. The Prime Minister will only speak to hand picked reporters that will give him softball questions. Ministers of the crown will lie (or at the least mislead) to Parliament. Gag orders fly onto candidates so fast it makes your head spin. This is a government that doesn't want to talk to anyone about anything. This would be a Tory definition of openness, which seems to be the opposite of any definition of openness that I'm familiar with. It would seem that the Tory definition of openness is that we, the people get to hear exactly what the Tories want us to hear, and not one thing more. The stuff we get to hear may or may not be the truth and we're not allowed to question what we hear.

In terms of accountability, the Tories are even worse. In fact it would appear that Harper doesn't want to be accountable even to members of his own party. Snap nomination meetings where even the riding executive isn't notified to ensure no opposition to the party approved candidate shows up seem to be standard operating procedure. If someone does manage to get their nomination papers in, the party simply disqualifies them. It's gotten so bad that some party members are suing the party over the nomination in Calgary West. This kind of top down approach is not conducive to accountability in the leadership. At best it shows that Harper's view on accountability is that everyone is accountability to him. Unfortunately for the people of Canada this doesn't apply only to party members. It would appear that Harper and his inner circle see the whole country as accountable to them personally. This is the opposite of what accountability should be and is more like the old Liberal government and not the "open and accountable" government the Tories claim to be. It is also not aiding democracy in Canada as it would appear by their actions, the Tories don't want to be accountable to anyone.

We also have the Tories attempting to stack the board of the CWB by eliminating 16,000 farmers from the voter's list. This is leading to a dangerous precedent as we head into a federal election. How many Canadian voters will be quietly removed from the federal voters list? How many of us will find out we're not eligible to vote next election when we show up to vote? I would not put it past the current Conservative government to do such a thing in an attempt to keep out ideologically "impure" voters.

When you think about it, the current Conservative Party of Canada is not much different than the former Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Both are top-down parties. Policy and who gets to run are decided by either the PMO/Party office (CPC) or the Politburo (CPSU). Both are ideologically driven and deviations from ideological purity are punished. Input from non-party sources is ignored and input from party sources is discouraged and dissent is strongly repressed. Both use the state to output propaganda to make the party look good, regardless of the truth. Both try to control what other people say about them. Both pay lip service to the term democracy, but neither seem committed to it.

So the question that remains is this: Is Canada becoming an authoritarian dictatorship? The direction the Tories are headed would seem to indicate this. It will be interesting to see what happens if they lose an non-confidence vote.

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