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Saturday, July 20 2024 @ 06:58 MDT

Our dying democracy

Jason ramblingIt would seem that the Harper Conservatives are continuing along the long, slow slide to their apparent dream of a neo-con totalitarian dictatorship. The most recent action would appear to be an attempt by the Harper government to muzzle the independent officers of Parliament such as the Auditor General. Actions such as this begin to make me wonder about the Harper and the Tories' commitment to democracy in general, and our democratic system in particular. Millimetre by millimetre, the Tories seem hell bent to destroy Canada as we know it, our democracy with it.

So what signs do we have that this has been happening? Well there are plenty of things that have happened that make me wonder about how committed to the democratic process the Harper Conservatives are. First there's the example above, of an apparent attempt to muzzle the officers of Parliament. These civil servants work at arms length from the government, allowing them to avoid partisanship and to bring to the attention of Parliament the foibles of the government so that the government can be held in check by Parliament. To facilitate this these people such as the Auditor General and the Ethics Commissioner report directly to Parliament and not the government. Of course this means that these officers may not be "on message" with the government of the day, a cardinal sin in the Harper administration. This isn't even the first time the Harper Tories have tried to muzzle an arms-length body. Harper fired the chair of the nuclear safety watchdog because she wouldn't toe the party line and was more concerned with, shock of shocks, nuclear safety. Actions such as this simply erode the ability of Parliament, and by extension the Canadian voter from holding the government accountable for it's actions.

This concept of government being held accountable for it's actions by the governed is a hallmark of democracy. It's also something the Harper Tories have been trying to avoid. The muzzling of Parliamentary officers is only one example. The way that Harper interacts with the media is another. Stephen Harper has spent the entirety of his time in office making the most secretive government seen in Canada outside of Alberta. They've even gone as far to basically say that rules are for other people. These are not the actions and words of people who are fundamental believers in the rule of law, let alone believers in democracy. Without accountability, those in power can do whatever they want, regardless of what the people want. Graft and corruption are serious possibilities when a government tried to avoid accountability and the Tories are trying to avoid accountability at all cost. Dictators also like to avoid accountability, which is why they generally don't hold elections, or hold sham elections so that they can have the veneer of democracy. Dictators also don't like the rule of law, as it prevents them from doing whatever whim strikes them at that moment. The lack of accountability and the apparent distaste for the rule of law the Tories seem to have are another thing that makes me question their motives vis a vis our democratic institutions.

Another place that shows a distinct lack of democratic desire is in the way the Harper Tories have "consulted" with Canadians. So far we have them "polling" Canadians with leading multiple choice questions so that the polls show the "correct" response. We also have them inviting only supporters to "public hearings." Again, these are not the actions of a party that is enthused with democracy. By holding sham consultations, the Tories are demonstrating that they just don't care what the public thinks. That regardless of what the majority of Canadians want, Harper and his merry band of authoritarians will do whatever they damn well please, which ties back to their disdain for the rule of law. How long until the Tories are pushing for sham elections?

Given how Tory nomination processes go it almost makes me suspect that some Conservatives are already clamoring for rigged elections. It almost seems that the Tories, like the old Communist Party of the Soviet Union, see themselves as the "vanguard party" that must rule like dictators until they reshape society in their image. No one is allowed to question the party leader and his hand picked MP's. Any one who does must fall into line or be silent. Ideological purity must be maintained and free and open nomination meetings, not to mention free and open elections, can prevent this purity from happening. Since the leadership are pure and without flaw, there's no need to consult the voter, since the voter might make the wrong choice. There's no need for free and open discourse as obedience to the leader is all that is needed.

It's not just party members and the civil service that the Tories are trying to silence. By using SLAPP suits, the Harper Tories are trying to silence the opposition. I can only imagine that if they had a majority government, instead of a minority, legislation would be introduced to limit what the opposition could say. Free and open discourse is a major requirement of democracy. The Tories, through their actions seem to be opposed to free and open discourse. Why they are I leave as an exercise for the reader, but needless to say this opposition to open discourse is yet another hallmark of dictatorial government.

So we have a neo-conservative government under Stephen Harper that seems hell-bent to destroy democracy in Canada. They appear to be so set on this course of de-democratizing the country that the Harper Tories couldn't even vote for a symbolic motion to support the independence of our arms length election body. Democracy is fragile and ours is starting to look ill, with the Harper government seemingly trying to quicken democracy's trip to the grave. Unfortunately one of the opposition parties is so cow-towed by the Tories that they seem to be helping the Conservatives destroy the fabric of our nation. I can only hope they, as well as the rest of Canada, figure this out in time to stop doing that.

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Our dying democracy
Authored by: Anonymous onThursday, May 01 2008 @ 02:11 MDT
Yes the Conservatives have shown that they don't like the Canadian version of
democracy. They would be quite happy with a more US version, clearly. We have
all known this for some time. My question is what the hell is wrong with the
Liberals? Supposedly they are committed to parliamentary democracy. If that is
the case, why are they completely abdicating their responsibility to oppose this
Conservative government in the face of a litany of scandals, in the face of such
regressive conservative legislation as the budget, immigration reform, film and
television censorship, etc. I know which party has been opposing this
government and it ain't the Liberal Party of Canada. There is a real choice for
progressives. Thinking of voting Liberal? You don't know Jack! ;)