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, February 17, 2013

Will our 'watchkeepers' be watching in the future?

As the frustration level builds with the ongoing lack of accountability and response to concerns about various watchdog departments and officers the number of articles condemning this 'governments' approach to these things increases. Its getting so hard to keep up that once again I will simply post a few clips from a few that have caught my eye.

You will have read my concerns about the renewal of the Parliamentary Budget Officers mandate and perhaps were aware that the NDP brought a motion before the house to extend Mr Pages tern untill such time as a new officer was appointed. Naturally the cons defeated that one.

Showing their burgeoning disdain for accountability, transparency, financial oversight and the independence of federal watchdogs, the Harper Conservatives earlier this week nuked a progressive NDP motion on the role of the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO).  The motion, tabled by the Official Opposition’s Finance critic, Peggy Nash, sought to extend the mandate of Kevin Page, the current PBO, until a competent replacement is found.  Page’s term ends March 25.

No doubt this bit had a lot to do with it:- More importantly, the NDP motion would have guaranteed the independence of future PBOs. It would have required Parliament to boost the PBO position to a fully fledged Officer of Parliament. Would not do for the PBO to be clear of any interfearance form those of whoom he is reporting upon now would it!

Next up the environmental commissioner is resigning two years before the end of his mandate, he says its not due to frustration but we have to wonder when just before leaving he points out some major 'gaps' in in the environmental policies of the Conservative government. As Tim Harper of the Star points out “More often than not, those gaps are more like chasms.“

As he pointed out, about 30 per cent of Canada’s gross domestic product is fuelled by exports, and natural resources account for half those exports. More than 750,000 Canadians were working in the resource sector in 2010 and that number is growing. Ottawa estimates more than 600 major resource projects, representing $650 billion in new investments, are under way or planned across the country for the next decade.........

He pointed to Canada’s lack of preparedness for a major offshore oil spill on its east coast and warned of a potential 300 per cent jump in tanker traffic on the west coast.
He reminded us the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 spilled 4.9 million barrels of oil and the clean-up and other costs of civil damages has hit $40 billion.
In Canada, the corporate liability for such spills is $30 million on the east coast, and the liability for the nuclear industry is $75 million and has not been updated in more than 35 years, something Vaughan called “pretty shocking.” The liability limit in the U.S. for a nuclear accident is $12 billion.
Then there is the way in which the Canadian Charter is being ignored, indeed deliberately circumvented, by the 'government' when formulating new legislation aided and abeted by the Ministry of Justice :-

The minister of justice is required to inform the House of Commons if any new bill or regulation is inconsistent with the 1982 Charter of Rights and Freedoms, yet researchers say no such report has ever been made. In a statement of claim filed in court, Mr. Schmidt suggests the reason for that is because lawyers in the minister’s department are given instructions that set a very low bar.
Rather than expressing concern to the minister and Parliament if a draft bill likely violates the Charter, Mr. Schmidt says lawyers in the department are given a much different standard.
According to his court filing, government lawyers are told to not raise concerns with the minister “… even if the probability of inconsistency is 95 per cent or more, but some argument can reasonably be made in favour of its consistency – even if all arguments in favour of consistency have a combined likelihood of success of five per cent or less.”

These three are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to things that highlight our ever declining democracy, right to know where our tax dollars are going, declining protection of our lands and resources and inability of any of us to stop the Harper regime from making a mockery of our parliamentary traditions.

If you are not frustrated, depressed and increasingly 'concerned' about where we are being led then you are not taking notice or believe all the spin and BS issued from the PMO and should check your mental health.
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