A blog to give a voice to our concern about the continued erosion of our democratic processes not only within the House of Commons and within our electoral system but also throughout our society. Here you will find articles about the current problems within our parliamentary democracy, about actions both good and bad by our elected representatives, about possible solutions, opinions and debate about the state of democracy in Canada, and about our roles/responsibilities as democratic citizens. We invite your thoughtful and polite comments upon our posts and ask those who wish to post longer articles or share ideas on this subject to submit them for inclusion as a guest post.
Contact us at democracyunderfire@gmail.com

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Our Government & Democracy.

I have up to this point in this project called Democracy Under Fire made a concerted effort to avoid making posts that could be construed as partisan, this has meant that I have avoided for the most part pointing out the many past and ongoing anti-democratic actions by the current Conservative Government. With the count in that regard increasing daily I cannot in good conscience continue to ignore these attacks on our democracy.

What follows and future posts in this forum will continue to focus upon our democracy, be it simply informative information or upon actions by individuals or Partys that enhance and protect our democracy, or those that attack and erode it. I will not comment upon party policy and actions unless it directly (in my opinion) effects our democracy. Subjects such as access to information, accountability, MP’s obligations to their party and their constituents, manipulation of parliamentary and electoral rules, the controlling of dissenting opinion, the interference with commissions and inquiries etc etc are all fair game.

With the above in mind I should thank the CPC for my obsession with this subject, for it is their actions in the spring of 2006 that suddenly made me realize that I had better sit up and take notice. It was precipitated a few days after they were first elected when an MP who ran and was elected as representing another party was persuaded not only to switch partys but was immediately installed in to an important cabinet position whilst another cabinet position was filled by a non elected conservative. I will not dwell upon that piece of history but just say that since then I have been watching much closer and for a time was keeping fairly close track of such questionable action. Of late I have been less thorough in collecting these instances, mostly because it would involve almost daily adding to the list!

In this post I will just briefly touch on a few things that have caught my eye since they avoided a confidence vote by shutting down parliament after just 13 days of sitting, that after having called an election (in contravention of their own recently passed legislation) and called parliament (under their leadership) “dysfunctional. If we remember that they had prorogued parliament after the summer recess, prorogued it in Sept and not called that election until parliament was due to resume (thus the House sat for just 130 days from Oct 2007 to Jan 2009, 0 days in the 6 months from July to Dec). They then prorogued it again in January! Perhaps then you may understand the need for not allowing this government to avoid public scrutiny, for they avoided opposition scrutiny, such as it is, for much of 2008.

Here then are a few of the more recent things that stick in my craw in regard to this Conservative Government.

The most insidious and ongoing thing is the shameless self promotion of the “Harper Government” using our tax dollars on TV, on Government web sites, on those pesky 10%ers and even on all those bill boards that are REQUIRED at each infrastructure project. Then there is the latest abuse of presentation cheques being made to appear as if they come directly from the Conservative Party of Canada and not from The Government of Canada and even Go Trains repainted to promote the “Action Plan”.
A few points here firstly it is NOT Harpers government it is OUR government, it is the Government of Canada. Note:- there are well over 100 references to the “Harper Government” on the CPC web site alone, over 200 on the PM site and quite a few on the Government web site.
Secondly if anyone believes that the sudden appearance of conservative logos on presentation cheques was an “oversight” by individual MPs then they probably also believe that it is also an oversight that the majority of infrastructure funds went to conservative ridings.
Thirdly those “Action Plan” ads do nothing to actually inform the public of factual information regarding the specifics but simply say “we have a plan, we have a plan” and thus cannot be viewed as legitimate government advertising.

Another very troubling tendency of this Conservative government is their concerted effort to stymie any effort to investigate and get to the truth of allegations of wrongdoing. Suing an arms length government body such as Elections Canada is clearly an effort to hold up or block the legitimate search for the truth, good or bad. It is a case of “if you have done nothing wrong, what do you have to loose?”, the same can be asked of various Parliamentary inquiries that have been subject to similar foot dragging, procedural wrangling and outright disrespect for due process. The fact that a number of court decisions, even after appeal, have proven them to be in conflict with the laws of the land on several occasions would seem to show that they also have a similar distain for the rule of law. That this is coupled with a concerted effort to conceal and withhold information that should be readily available to the pubic, the shutting down of access to information databases, the necessity of bureaucrats, diplomats and MPs to “clear” any release of information through the PMO makes this governments vow to be “open and accessible” when first elected in 2006 a total farce.

There is little doubt that all governments and political partys are guilty of being partisan and trying to hide their mistakes but what strikes me with this lot is no so much what they are doing but the volume of questionable actions and self promotion, the unprecedented efforts to hide and control information, and the methods used to accomplish this. It is apparent to me that this government cares little for maintaining an open and accountable democracy but would much prefer an oligarchy and are doing everything in their power to go there. Would that I had confidence in the opposition partys to turn this tendency around but I fear that they are of much the same view, if not quite so blatant about it. Perhaps it is true that “Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely”.

“Democracy demands vigilance, and a willingness to pose difficult questions and to take risks. I do not mean by that only taking to the streets to complain about what is wrong, but also advocating constructive alternatives.” David Kilgour MP (retired)

Let us all be vigilant and ask those questions! Support Democracy - Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers

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