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 firstname.lastname@example.org
perceptive description of one of the Harper Regimes mouthpieces got
me to thinking! Out here in rural Canada we are used to the
occasional smell wafting up the hill from the nearest agricultural
enterprise but it is no big deal, a fresh breeze will come along
shortly and dissipate the odor. Over on the other hill, the one in
Ottawa, its a different story, not only is there a overabundance of
bovine and equine excrement but unlike out here in the country where
it falls to the ground and fertilizes the flowers they deal with it
differently. Up there they carefully package it in lies and deceit,
wrap it up in secrecy and finish it off with a bow of utter contempt,
it matters not, it still stinks when unwrapped!
With the above in mind
here are a few of the more recent packages found laying around and
starting to smell really bad.......
- Marc Garneau asked about the government’s
attempts to move committee business in camera across the board. That
means that while witness hearings would still be public, any other
committee discussions would be made
secret, including any motions that the
opposition might make (only to be subsequently voted down). This
was noted yesterday
by Kady O’Malley, and echoed by Elizabeth Thompson on two of
the committees they’ve been covering.
So that firm
that the Conservatives hired to do the
reprehensible political dirtbaggery in Irwin Cotler’s riding?
Was hired by a number of Conservatives during the last
election, including the would-be Speaker himself. Was this mentioned
in his ruling? No, it was not.
in Ottawa have muzzled a leading fisheries scientist whose
discovery could help explain why salmon stocks have been crashing off
Canada's West Coast............... documents show the Privy Council
Office, which supports the Prime Minister's Office, stopped Kristi
Miller from talking about one of the most significant discoveries to
come out of a federal fisheries lab in years.
A federal court judge issued a declaration that
Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz
offended the rule of law by introducing
legislation which did not comply with the Canadian Wheat Board Act.
The existing act requires the minister to consult with the CWB
directors and hold a plebiscite among CWB producers before making
changes to the CWB monopoly. Ritz has declared that the general
election last spring served as the only vote he needed since the vast
majority of CWB ridings voted for Conservative MPs.
Harper team made accountability a cornerstone of its pitch for
government back in 2006, ................ But the ethics organization
reports that the
Harper government has failed to live up
to its promises. “Five years after the Federal Accountability
Act became law, dishonesty, conflicts of interest, excessive secrecy,
unlimited donations all are still legal,”
years ago, during the H1N1 pandemic, it was reported that there was
an unusually large cluster of infections at the St. Theresa Point
First Nation community in northern Manitoba. Health Canada did an
epidemiological study to investigate and determined at least some of
the likely causes. But
someone, in his infinite wisdom, decided the study should remain
It took an access to information request by the Winnipeg
Free Press and a
followup complaint to the information commissioner to obtain even a
redacted copy of the report.
Signed Sept. 20 and effective immediately, the
policy says the Mounties must consult and get approval from Public
Safety for communications regarding non-operational matters “PRIOR
(emphasis in original) to public use” for almost everything. On
“major operational events,” all communications need to be
shared with Public Safety Canada officials “for information
only” prior to public use.
to the document, the goal is to ensure
advance notice of “communications activities,”
“consistent” interdepartmental co-ordination, better
“strategic” communications planning, and more “integrated
Government of Canada messaging.”
By now you have all
seen the OCED report that says “The richest 1% of Canadians
saw their share of total income increase from 8.1% in 1980 to
13.3% in 2007”. It was this discrepancy along with the actual
amount that the rich take home compared with the average working man that spawned the Occupy movement.
Recently questions are being asked, and rightly so, as to if or how
this effects our democracy and I will get back to that in a minute.
First, so that we can truly see what this divide real means let us
look at the actual numbers (as provided by Stats Can for 2009), below
is data extracted from two separate Stats Can tables combined for
easy comparison and with % columns added. Click on table to enlarge.
Whilst all the dialog
has been about the top 1% and the remaining 99% I prefer to take a
little broader view. It can be see for instance that only just over
5% of individuals made more than $100,000 whilst the remaining 95% or
so are below that threshold. The same column indicates that a full
quarter of individuals took home less than $15,000 and that the
median income was $28, 840. Please note 'median' is not the same as
average, this indicated that an equal number of individuals made more
than $28, 840 as did make less. It does not of course show the
obscene salaries (and other perks) of those few at the very top but
(presumably) includes them in the 'making above $250,000 category!.
A warning here
statistics can be spun any which way and are reliant upon the input
data so if for instance some of those very low income individuals
filed income tax (which is I presume where this data came from) to
get the gst rebate and some did not it would skew the numbers, as
would the use of offshore accounts and creative bookeeping from the
more affluent. Never the less I find it more revealing to look at
actual income levels rather than saying the gap is getting wider or
the top XX% is getting XX% more than the bottom XX%, that to me is
pretty much meaningless!
I have transferred the
family incomes to the chart for the same income levels for
comparison, make what you wish of them but do note that nearly 10% of
FAMILIES bring home less than $25,000. One final note before I move
on, the report also says that “Since the mid-1980s, annual
hours of low-wage workers fell from 1300 to 1100 hours, while those
of higher-wage workers fell by less, from 2200 to 2100 hours.”
Its not so much the change that bothers me but the fact that those
with low income who NEED the hours cant get them, whilst those who
could afford to make room for a few more fellow workers by reducing
their hours do not. Not as simple as that perhaps but sharing a job
may be better than more on unemployment or welfare?
Any way, my excuse for
posting this was to talk about if such disparities of income effect
our democracy, I recently heard a discussion on TVO on this very
subject where one speaker said yes, the rich (particularly the
corporate rich) have greater access to government via lobbying and
'consultation' than do the poor. Another speaker (I believe it was
Preston Manning) said that so long as 5 or 6 citizens can form a
political party, expand it and develop it into a viable option then
democracy is alive and well! Well Preston you may have done that but
the party you formed is no longer in existence and conditions today
are a far cry from those days, nor does the ability to form a
political party constitute all there is to democracy. The ability to
spend vast sums of money to publicize and promote your point of view
has been clearly shown to be necessary to get the voters to take any
notice, a fact that our current government has grasped only too well
with their ever expanding 'publicity' department in the PMO and their
removal of per vote funding to developing and smaller partys.
Additionally, those that are on the upper rungs of the income ladder
can better afford to contribute larger sums to the party of their
choice than can the guys at the bottom for whom a $50 or $100
donation is a big hunk out of their budget.
So yes, income does
indirectly effect our democracy by a disparity of both access and
funding to political partys and thus effect both the platform,
actions, and media attention of whatever party the rich or poor
support gets. Money and the ability to spend on advertizing should
not affect the way the population votes and the party who gets to run
our government for a while, but it clearly does, and indeed recently
did, enough so that the conservatives 'bent the rules' so that they
could spend more. Meanwhile just to rub salt into the wound the very
services that the folk on the lower end of the ladder, and those who
have just been pushed back one more step, need are being cut.
Insurance processing centers are being cut from 120 to 19.”
NINETEEN! across the entire country with “The
number of unemployed Canadians increasing for the second straight
month, climbing by 20,500 to 1,394,700.”
I bet these folk believe there is a effect upon democracy and
governance by income values!
And that’s the
way it looks to this lower income Canadian as service cuts loom, full
time jobs disappear, and banks and corporations report increasing
profits and I feel helpless to effect the choices that various levels
of government are making.
Regular readers will
know that I refuse to use the phrase that links OUR Government
directly with the leader of the Conservative party, preferring to use
the more accurate term when referring to that portion of government
coming under direct control of this dictatorial leader, that being
the 'Harper Regime'.
We must respect those thousands of government
worker who work for us in the Canadian Government and who are
forced to use that untenable phrase by directive of said regime, and
make no mistake despite all the denials the use of said phrase was
and is a directive of said leader and his personal (and ever
expanding) crew of mini dictators in the PMO. Thanks
to the The Canadian Press and their persistence if obtaining freedom
of information documents on this issue we can
now specifically say that when Dimitri Soudas, wrote to Canadian
newspapers asserting "no directive" went out to civil
servants to use the offending phrase and that "Nothing could be
further from the truth," he was lieing on behalf of the regimes
leader, Mr (you wont recognize this country) Harper.
The use of this heading
on press releases and other official documents is offensive enough
and according to “top former civil servants” “
breaches both communications policy and the civil service ethics
policy” but the so very obvious lieing and cover up once again
shows this regime up for exactly what it is.
All that said, we
cannot entirely blame the Harper Regime for the persistence of this
phrase, yes government employees have little choice but to follow
directives from above but the press, and indeed us bloggers, do NOT
have to legitimize this phrase by continually repeating it. Simply
substituting the single word 'government' or 'Harper' or 'the PMO'
where appropriate or, if you prefer as I do, 'The Harper Regime' and
refusing to publish anything with those inaccurate, self serving and
unethical words attached would quickly bring to an end such
'branding' of OUR government.
There has been much
written this week since the Canadian
Press broke this story, unfortunately they
almost all, in criticizing the use of the word “Harper”
in conjunction with the word “Government”, actually use
said phrase and thus increase its use and visibility, much I would
imagine to the delight of the Harper Regime!
This then is a call to
all reader of this blog to cease and desist using the phrase “The
(offensive word removed) Government” and to ask others who
publish on line and in print, and even broadcasters in radio and TV
to do the same. Its a small push back against this oligarchal regime
against whom we have so little recourse, but in my view it is a
A t/h to Impolotical
for picking up on the Canadian Press piece on this and the many other
who followed suit but will you all please start using a more accurate
phrase when describing or alluding to the current 'government'.
A government, esp. an authoritarian one.
A system or planned way of doing things, esp. one imposed from
1. A small group of people having control of a country,
organization, or institution.