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.
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Sunday, October 17, 2010

Democratic Deficit, Contempt & Maple Syrup?

Some recent commentary, please see the original posts for the full text.

Showing utter contempt

The Conservatives’ contempt for Parliament apparently knows no bounds as they are expected to deliver their fall economic update today, in Mississauga of all places. No, you’re not mistaken – the House isn’t sitting this week. For them to deliver it outside of the House shows contempt in and of itself, but to deliver it on a week where it’s not even sitting is just rubbing it in. It shows that the government doesn’t care what the House thinks, because there is no speech to MPs, and no chance for the other parties to respond to its deliver at that time. Oh, and in these times of “fiscal restraint,” the government could have delivered it in the House for no cost, or they could deliver it outside, in a ridiculously controlled environment with a ridiculous backdrop for hundreds of thousands of dollars. But hey, contempt of Parliament costs money, and they apparently are going to make us pay for it.

Jim Flaherty's annual fall update was in fact delivered Tuesday not in Parliament but at a business lunch in Mississauga and was full of self-congratulatory rhetoric ...

Democratic Deficit Disorder

Domestic relations characterized by chronic wedge politics, partisan bickering, and character assassinations
An overworked PMO as a result of downgraded functioning within the government’s executive
Shutdown of civic participation described by low voter-turnout and heightened political apathy
an electoral system that no longer meets the demands of the country’s democratic life source, Canadians.
A “Wizard of Oz” style politics that uses tactics such as prorogation to mitigate transparency and accountability
And finally, an overwhelming tendency to play “the blame game.”
Canadians need to start demanding a better democracy, or else Canada is going to have some serious leadership issue for years to come — regardless of what side of the political spectrum you support.

How you know a government is broken

(The G & M) ran an excellent piece about how the government's promise to strengthen Canada’s access-to-information laws is now five years old.
It is of course all so laughable it is sad. Here we have an issue that the public is universally supportive of - making government more transparent and accountable - and yet the government contends the issue requires extensive consultation. And so... no action.
Meanwhile, on issues to which the public is almost universally opposed - for example the long form census - the government acts without consultation, without evidence and in the dead of night, hoping that no one will notice. Again, it would be laughable if the implications weren't so serious. It's also a big reversal of what should have been and maybe the clearest sign yet this government is broken.
And it didn't have to be this way. Looking back at the Conservative's 2006 election platform under the header "Strengthen Access to Information legislation"
How many of these promises have been implemented? To date, only one
As an aside, take a look at that platform. Guess what isn't mentioned once: The long form census.
One of the great pledges of the Conservative government was that they were going to make government more accountable and more transparent. So far, when it comes to managing information - the collective documents our tax dollars paid to create - today our government is more opaque, more dumb and less inspiring to Canadians than it has ever been. For a government that was supposed to restore Canadians confidence in their country, it has been a sad decline to observe.

Not Enough Maple Syrup

It was reported on CBC this morning that in a last ditch effort to win over votes for a seat on the U.N. Security Council, Canadian diplomats were giving out maple-leaf shaped bottles of maple syrup.
Maybe our government’s grasp of the concerns of the world’s nations is a bit lacking in substance.………..
………. no matter how much we give out last minute bottles of maple syrup, and no matter how sincere the pitch for membership from the PM to the General Assembly seemed two months ago, actions speak louder than words.  The actions of the Harper government led to this outcome  --  not their words, nor the words of Michael Ignatieff in saying what everyone knew, that our reputation in the world was tarnished after four and a half years of Harper government policies.
You reap what you sow.  Let us hope that this is the nadir in Canada’s world reputation.  Let us commit to be the country we once were, with a Prime Minister and a House of Commons that understands what it takes to be a constructive member of the family of nations.
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