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 26, 2014

.........Democracy Under Fire?

"The objective of these attacks was to instil fear and panic in our country, as I said yesterday, Canadians will not be intimidated. Here we are, in our seats, in our chamber, in the very heart of our democracy." Stephen Harper in the House of Commons Thursday October 23rd.

This phrase has been much in the headlines and repeated by many both inside and outside the halls of power and was much in evidence during the 'crisis' by news anchors and the like trying to fill in time whist they waited for real information to emerge. I take a little bit on an issue with this.

Parliament may be the symbolic home of our democracy but the true heart of democracy rests with the citizens across this vast country. It is entrusted in those individuals that we elect to protect and enhance it who meet in that place to hold the current government, no matter what particular flavor it currently enjoys, to account and to participate in the process of deciding upon the rules by which out society lives by. It is those citizens who make sure that they take the time to select those individuals who are placed before us as possible representatives every few years. It is within those that take notice of the debates and decisions emerging from 'that place' and make their views know as best they can to an ever less receptive group of politicians. The heart of a country’s democracy lays within its citizens, whether they look after it or not is another matter entirely.

NO the parliament building is NOT the heart of our democracy, if it burnt to the ground tomorrow would our democracy die? I sure hope not, and do not believe it would. It matters not WHERE our parliamentarian meet, it matter that they DO meet and that they are able to represent our views in an open forum where all such views are respected and taken into account. Such open debate is going to be of particular importance in the upcoming day and weeks as the above representatives consider what action to take to reduce the vulnerability of our important physical infrastructure to such incursion as happened Wednesday and to identify individuals with the mindset to do such things.

These nutcases are not necessary 'terrorists', just because they 'terrorized' parliamentary individuals, is that any different from gangs that 'terrorize' neighbourhoods in our large cities, randomly killing those that happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time? Are parliamentarians and their staff any different from a family living in a less than secure neighbourhood in Toronto? No, they are as Elizabeth May said in the House on Thursday "At a very basic level, we are nothing more than human beings who at a very fundamental level care for each other," and probably actually more secure that those living in some of those neighbourhoods, this is not to say that they should not be alert for those that would use force to make their views known.

All this brings me to the 'heart' of the matter which is given the events of Wednesday there must obviously be in increase in security of the Parliament Building and probably other such Federal and Provincial locations and finding a balance between security and public access will be difficult. The other side of the coin is the need to identify those who are inclined to use guns, bombs, physical force or destruction of property to make their point, or simply become infamous. These mentally 'challenged' people are not all 'terrorists', we know Harper thinks they can be environmentalists or almost any other group that opposes some of his dictatorial omnibus legislation. It is as both Ms May and MR Trudeau alluded to necessary that our legislators do not 'over react'.

“It is my profound wish that we remain calm, determine all the facts and not make any assumptions. Today is not a day that ‘changes everything.’ It is a day of tragedy. We must ensure we keep our responses proportionate to whatever threat remains.
This senseless, horrifying attack has shaken all of us who work in Parliament, but we stand together, strengthened in our resolve to uphold the values of peace and democracy upon which our country was founded.”
Elizabeth May

We will remember who we are.  We are proud democracy, a welcoming and peaceful nation and a country of open arms and open hearts.  We are a nation of fairness, of justice and of the rule of law.  We will not be intimidated into changing that.
If anything, these are the values and principles to which we must hold on even tighter.  Our dedication to democracy and to the institutions we have built is the foundation of our society and a continued belief in both will guide us correctly into the future.  Staying true to our values in a time of crisis will make us an example to the world.”
Justin Trudeau

I have not commented upon the specific incidences that took place on parliament hill here, there is more than enough opinion out there on that, as a blogger on democracy I do not believe that this incident, in and of its self, has much to do with our democracy, it is the reaction by government and others that will impact our democratic system, and our rights and freedoms.
I just know that if legislation to bring such measures as may be deemed necessary into force is not debated without closure being enforced, and is not supported by a majority of all parliamentarians, not just those enamoured with Stephen Harper and his war on terror, then it is no less an attack on democracy than that which some say occurred on Wednesday. The danger to democracy lays not with lone gunmen upset over the inability to get a passport but with those within government who constantly use the parliamentary system designed to protect democracy to erode it.

The danger is perhaps best highlighted by the Conservatives tabling of yet another Omnibus Budget (in this case running to 458 pages!) on the day after the normal House of Commons routine was disrupted by the above events. We can be almost certain that this too will be forced through the House with limited debate and total disregard for any amendments proposed by the opposition parties.

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Lorne said...

"The true heart of democracy rests with the citizens across this vast country."
Well-said, Rural; let's hope people remember that.

Rural said...

Let us also hope, Lorne, that they nurture it.

thwap said...

In any other context harper has nothing but contempt for Parliament and its traditions.

Now, when its convenient, he says it's "the heart of our democracy."

What sickening hypocrisy.

Rural said...

That sums it up nicely, Thwap!