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, December 30, 2012

Stand on Guard

At this time of year as we look back over the previous year and forward to the coming year is also a good time to look at the broader picture of where we are both personally and as a country. When compared with so many other countries around the world that are in conflict or struck by famine, drought, floods, earthquakes and other disasters man made or natural we here in Canada must count ourselves fortunate. Some areas of our country have had a taste of some of those things but generally speaking we have the resources and systems in place to deal with such things in a speedy and organized fashion. Our social services, medical, environmental and emergency services systems built up over many years may not be perfect but they are standing ready for when nature or man creates a need for them. But can we take such things for granted? Given the last years decisions coming out of both the federal and several provincial governments I don’t think so!

There was a time when major decisions by the government were, even during times of a majority government situation, placed before the House and debated, given public scrutiny and even voted upon by MPs who for the most part actually knew what they were voting upon. No longer it seems. Now the modus operandi is for a few elite in the oligarchy to decide what is to be done, prepare a massive document which few have time to fully read and understand and then instruct those who happen to be elected under that particular party banner how they shall vote. Or where they think they can get away with it, to quietly sign 'trade agreements' that give away our ability to protect our own interests against corporate greed, give foreign governments control over our natural resources and cut funding to those departments that might protect against corporate rape of our lands and seas. All without so much as a moment given to public or indeed other MPs concerns. In short there is no meaningful debate, no changes to the decisions from on high are allowed and the 'vision' of a few at the top becomes the law for all. I use that word 'vision' with reluctance for I know not what that vision is or where it is taking us, I just know what I have seen of it lately I do not like. Of course we are bombarded daily by TV ads, paid for by us, telling us we have a plan, we have a plan.... its just that we have no idea what it is, no input into its formation and no choices as to the manner of its implementation.

As we look forward we all have hard choices to make be it simply whether to buy that cheap dodad made in china at wallmart or shop for our needs at the local farmers market, to burn more fossil fuels flying to exotic isles for a holiday or use a little less seeing part of our vast country or even day tripping and finding those local gems that we usually ignore in our rush to try and make enough to pay for our politicians perks or public servants benefits. There are harder choices to be made as well, the toughest of which we are not permitted to make for a couple of years yet, that being the choice of which individual is going to 'represent' us in our failing and increasingly less democratic parliamentary system. Some provincial choices may well be up for grabs in the spring and the choices there are no less stark or important but it is the federal choices that are the really scary ones.

It pretty obvious by now to any clear thinking citizen who cares about any of the things noted above that the Harper regime must go, but what will be left to salvage when they are tossed out? Will they in fact be tossed out or will they spin and cheat their way back into power? What viable choices do we have when the best person to represent us may not be affiliated with with a party that can obtain enough seats to make a meaningful contribution to our governance? For me this last question has been answered , clearly just one person with moral backbone, a strong work ethic, and knowledge of our parliamentary system as it now exists can make a difference. That the parliamentarian of the year is not only one of the most outspoken politician in regard to the threats to our democracy but also the leader of the only party that has been consistent on the need to guard both our natural resources and our environment makes the choice of which political party to support easy. Unfortunately even the combined weight of all opposition MPs cannot seem to make one iota of a dent in the out of control steamroller being navigated by a group of blindfolded yes men that comprise the Harper regime. So the dilemma of 'strategic voting' under our outdated first past the post voting system to ensure that the spinmasters do not return to do further damage remains unsolved. All the talk of cooperation between the opposition partys will evaporate as the election come closer in flavor of trash talking to try and cast all but their own particular party in a poor light, the 'cooperation' will only last until their own self interest outweighs Canadas need for change.

So as we look back upon 2012 and forward to the start of a new year I urge you all to look closely at what our various governments have done for or to us recently, seek independent information from a variety of sources and not rely upon the 30 second sound bite or latest 'news release' issued by the only government department to not get a budget cut. Sooner or later you will need that information to make a choice that may well be the choice between a hard won (and desperately in need of modernization) democratic parliamentary system and one where you get a choice of which dictator you want till the next election fraud takes place.

“Lewis Lapham, author and twice editor of Harper’s Magazine in the United States, made the same point. Democracy, he wrote, announces itself in three fundamental ways: an honest public discussion about issues; accountability of the governors to the governed; and equal protection under the law. By Lapham’s measure, Stephen Harper’s Canada is not a democracy, let alone a parliamentary democracy. It is an oligarchy with a few well chosen friends and millions upon millions of people to ignore, vilify or bamboozle.”

Be careful what you wish for and resolve to Stand on Guard for a Democratic Canada.
Support Democracy - Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers


Owen Gray said...

Elizabeth May understands that economic collapse and environmental collapse are children of the same parents.

Unless and until Canadians see the connection, Canada will be indefensible.

The Mound of Sound said...

Good, thought provoking post, thanks. If you saw the Edmonton Journal report from the 24th,


you'll see that a majority of Canadians now feel resigned to street protests as the preferred vehicle to achieve political action.

As a people we are now estranged from our political institutions, alienated from our supposed leadership. Their values have become disconnected from ours. They have gone hard right - the Tories, the Liberals and the NDP - while (fortunately) the public has not.

They no longer speak to our concerns. They have long since given up on offering us a vision that resonates with the ordinary Canadian. They demand that we vote for them for no better reason than that they're not someone else.

And so we withdraw from a Parliament led by a party that governs by fiat and an opposition that does little to resist and focuses instead on whatever ruse is calculated to best advance their partisan political fortunes.

Every now and then when I need to recalibrate my political compass I like to read Twain and Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt. Their wisdom reveals how badly we have gone off the rails. A good place to begin is Teddy Roosevelt's "square deal" speech delivered in 1910 at Osawatomie, Kansas. While it deserves to be read in its entirety, here is a useful excerpt:

"Practical equality of opportunity for all citizens, when we achieve it, will have two great results. First, every man will have a fair chance to make of himself all that in him lies; to reach the highest point to which his capacities, unassisted by special privilege of his own and unhampered by the special privilege of others, can carry him, and to get for himself and his family substantially what he has earned. Second, equality of opportunity means that the commonwealth will get from every citizen the highest service of which he is capable. No man who carries the burden of the special privileges of another can give to the commonwealth that service to which it is fairly entitled.
— I stand for the square deal. But when I say that I am for the square deal, I mean not merely that I stand for fair play under the present rules of the game, but that I stand for having those rules changed so as to work for a more substantial equality of opportunity and of reward for equally good service... When I say I want a square deal for the poor man, I do not mean that I want a square deal for the man who remains poor because he has not got the energy to work for himself. If a man who has had a chance will not make good, then he has got to quit... Now, this means that our government, National and State, must be freed from the sinister influence or control of special interests. Exactly as the special interests of cotton and slavery threatened our political integrity before the Civil War, so now the great special business interests too often control and corrupt the men and methods of government for their own profit. We must drive the special interests out of politics... For every special interest is entitled to justice, but not one is entitled to a vote in Congress, to a voice on the bench, or to representation in any public office. The Constitution guarantees protection to property, and we must make that promise good. But it does not give the right of suffrage to any corporation. The true friend of property, the true conservative, is he who insists that property shall be the servant and not the master of the commonwealth; who insists that the creature of man's making shall be the servant and not the master of the man who made it. The citizens of the United States must effectively control the mighty commercial forces which they have themselves called into being."

Would that Roosevelt's wisdom of a century past would find its way into Canada's political discourse today.

A happy and healthy New Year to you.