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, January 3, 2010

The Harper Regime’s attacks upon Democracy.

Once again our Conservative Regime led by PM Harper and his all controlling companions in the PMO have suspended parliament for purely partisan political purposes. That they thumb their noses at parliamentary convention and tradition once again says much about their total distain for our parliamentary democracy, whilst we may not yet be living in a dictatorship it is clear that is the manner in which this government wishes to rule. Much has been said in recent days regarding this suspension of parliament and I will not repeat it all here, suffice to say there have been thousands of opinions posted in the last few days and a quick google search of the terms Harper and Democracy revealed the outrage that prevails about this move.

A regime that uses its executive power to subvert parliamentary processes, removes or silences any governmental watchdogs, ridicules Canadian diplomats for speaking out and does everything in its power to suppress information that may be damaging to its regime cannot be called democratic. Simply being elected by a democratic (but flawed) method does not make a government democratic, they must not only operate in a democratic way but they must be SEEN to do so. Clearly it can be seen by all but the blindly partisan that this is not the case with this regime.

If it were just a matter of suspending parliament for their convenience then perhaps it could be tolerated but the list is long and damming, they really don’t seem to care for the check and balances built into our parliamentary system. As Jim Travers says:-

Harper and associates have learned to appreciate, as well as relentlessly abuse, the convenience of power without accountability. Little now stands in the Prime Minister's way. Parliament's independent watchdogs are mostly mute, their collars drawn tight and leashes shortened. Parliament's committees, including the one investigating torture allegations, are rendered impotent by a confidential manual instructing partisan sabotage. Elected representatives sent here to safeguard the national treasury and restrain ruling party excesses are no longer able to fulfil those defining duties.

We can agree or disagree with their political agenda and the bills they have put before parliament but the manner in which they operate, the control invested in the PMO, the secrecy, the removal of those from within government who are critical, the use of the public purse for political purpose etc, the list goes on, says that democracy is just something to be ignored whenever possible by these folk. Let us just look at how this all went down. Not with the customary visit to the GG, but with a phone call. Not whilst parliament was sitting but during a holiday break. Not with an open announcement that parliament was to be prorogued but with a press release saying that “that the next phase of our Economic Action Plan (that’s the one that the Parliamentary Budget Officer has difficulty tracking) will be launched, following the Olympic Games, with a Throne Speech on March 3 and a Budget on March 4.”

This was followed by a few lines trying to justify the action, calling it “routine” and going on to try and blame the liberals for their decision to prorogue.

“The call for a new Throne Speech to launch the 3rd Session of the current Parliament is routine. The average Parliament comprises three or four sessions (and three or four Throne Speeches); some Parliaments have heard as many as six or seven Throne Speeches. This is the 105th time in Canada's history that a new Throne Speech will launch a new session of an existing Parliament.”

Kady has a handy rebutal to this…..

“Courtesy of Wikipedia, here's a handy list of parliaments past, including session counts. What's not clear is whether any of the six- and seven-session parliaments are analogous to the current state of affairs; the 7th Parliament, for instance, had five different prime ministers, which is why it had six sessions. The 12th Parliament, which had seven sessions, was the also the longest in Canadian history, sitting for over five years due to a wartime extension……….

According to the parliamentary website, which is not, thankfully, prorogued, it wasn't until 1964 that the House could adjourn during a session - even for statutory holidays - without a special motion to do so. As a guess, I'd say that's probably why early parliaments were prorogued more frequently. Scheduled sitting days - and the current calendar - are an even more recent development, with the calendar formula being adopted in 1982.

This parl.gc.ca compilation is interesting too -- the length of every session since Confederation, including periods of prorogation.”

This was clearly NOT ROUTINE but done for purely political reasons as several observers have said repeated prorogation of Parliament, as a political strategy, is an affront to democracy. The difficulty comes arises in how do we stop the deliberate and calculated attacks on our parliamentary democracy by this regime? The opposition can, when parliament finally resumes vote down a confidence bill and topple the government but then what, a coalition would be nice but when things did not work out last time the Libs and the NDP promptly went back to trashing each other and distancing themselves from the Bloc (who despite their stated goal of separating seem to be the only ones who seem to actually respect parliamentary processes) so reassembling such a coalition is now highly improbable. We can have that election that so many have called for but there are no guarantees of change, if fact it seems that 30% or so of the voters still seem to think the sun rises from a dark hole somewhere in the PMO. As our electoral system stand right now that could simply mean more of the same, particularly with this regime’s ongoing “advertising” campaign fooling so many of the less savvy public.

The branding carried out using our own tax dollars has been so insidious that even the most cynical of us are starting to refer to OUR government by prefacing it with the name of the owner of that dark hole where for far too many the sun shines from. Those of us less blinded by the light are often more specific as to the location!

Scott Ross has the right idea when he says:-

The political system in our country needs to change, not just in its actors, not just in its parties, but in its very essence, its very form. No longer can the attitude of entitlement be transitioned from party to party as if it was the MP's office and party loyalty his desk. No longer can elected officials prefer political expediency over political virtue; that instead of their choosing the easier path, there is no choice but the right one. No longer can our constitution be bastardized by ignorance; and instead of leading to its ruin, our Prime Minister leads to its emboldening.This change will not come from within this political system, it will come from without. It will come from the Canadians who genuinely and earnestly want to make their country better………

Unfortunately that does not seem to include those that continue to support this dictatorial, all controlling, truth spinning, anti-democratic regime

So there it is, over the year since I started this blog I have tried very hard to keep from specifically criticizing our government and tried to focus upon how our parliament should work, electoral reform, the checks and balance that the senate provide, access to information and so on, but I can no longer avoid saying here what should by now be obvious…….

The Conservative regime under Stephen Harper is the most anti-democratic government in the history of Canada. Support Democracy - Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers


Alan Goodhall said...

Well Rural, It seems all hell is starting to break loose as a result of Mr. Harper's decision to prorogue.

My MP, Glen Pearson, blogged on this topic 12/31. I commented and he left an interesting, thoughtful reply on his blog. Thought you might be interested.

Alan Goodhall said...

Here's the link to that blog: