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, January 15, 2012

Due Process versus Economic Interests

Its hard for someone blogging about democracy to ignore the recent efforts by our Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver to call into question the perfectly legitimate concerns by both Canadian citizens and environmentalists from outside of Canada about the impacts of the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline by calling such people “Radicals” and how “They use funding from foreign special interest groups to undermine Canada’s national economic interest”. Much has been said across the internet since he made this statement defending those 1000s of citizens and groups who have registered to speak to this proposal some of whom we may be sure will be speaking for and on behalf of the several foreign owned oil companies who are no less a “foreign special interest group” than are some the environmentalists.

This is clearly interference in what is supposed to be an independent and unbiased environmental assessment of said proposal, that such a statement should be made before the hearing are barely underway once again show how little regard the Harper regimen has for democracy and due process.
Although it is quite obvious that an oil pipeline over the Rockies and through the pristine forests of BC and oil tankers plying the waters of BCs inner waterways would create a grave risk to one of the most beautiful and ecologically special regions in the world that is not the point here. The point is that the hearing to decide if this is something which something Canadians want, if it presents to grave a risk to proceed, if the citizens directly effected by the construction AND the possible aftermath, must be both unbiased and SEEN to be unbiased. It wont be of course, how can it be with the millions and millions of dollars profit at stake for big oil, their pockets are deep but the minister is concerned that a little 'foreign money' going to those that would oppose this project would 'undermine' the process.

Having just returned from kneecapping the process of trying to come to consensus about future efforts to reduce human impact on the environment I would not expect much from our Environment Minister Peter Kent either, he also obviously has no regard for democratic process. Did you hear of any debate in the House about withdrawing from Kyoto prior to that autonomous decision being announced, I sure did not! As for actually doing his job, encouraging debate, and enabling protection of Canadian land, air, water, flora and fauna...... don’t hold your breath!

We must be aware that Harper is not the only one who has embraced the mantra of “father knows best” and has decided that if the citizens don’t like the way he his doing things then lets not change what we are doing but change the rules so that they cannot stop the process even if they want to. The Ontario McGinty government some time ago reduced environmental hearing criteria and municipal control over any wind turbine installations in Ontario. Once again it matters not whether you support or oppose such projects being inflicted upon rural Ontario but that the affected citizens have NO SAY in where, how or if, such industrial generators should appear in their community.

We wonder when Mr Harper will make his next move and take a leaf out of Mr McGintys book and suspend or reduce such hearings for the oil industry. But wait - A report in today's Globe suggests we could soon be seeing another instance of Harper bullying and intimidation tactics. They say “The Conservative-dominated Commons finance committee is set to begin a review of the charity sector, and several activists say government MPs have told business groups that the committee will look at the environmental sector’s transparency, its advocacy role and the flow of funds from outside the country. “
Seems that they are already working on that one!

I am not the only one concerned.

I think it’s inappropriate for a minister or a prime minister to interfere and intervene and frankly to intimidate an environmental process as it would be to interfere or intervene in a court case,”

The purpose of an environmental assessment is to ask tough questions and hear the answers. Why does Mr. Oliver so strongly object to this? Do we no longer live in a democracy? Do our citizens no longer have the right to ask tough questions and express their opinions?”
Sierra Club of Canada Executive Director John Bennett

The repeated attacks on environmental review by your government merit mention.  The federal law for environmental review was first introduced under the Mulroney government.  Your government has dealt repeated blows to the process, both through legislative changes, shoved through in the 2010 omnibus budget bill, and through budget cuts. “

When I started this blog 3 years ago I was 'concerned about our democracy' under the Harper regime's minority government, now I am simply scared to death of what this dictatorial and ideological oligarchy is doing to our long standing and hard won democratic processes. We can agree or disagree on any particular issue but when the processes to come to a decision are attacked, ignored or circumnavigated, be they such hearings as this or within the house of commons, then we have arrived at the point where those that have compared Harper with a dictator with a similar name may just be closer to the truth than we care to think about.
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