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 14, 2010

Talking about Democracy.

As Churchill said “It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.” In recent weeks I have seen many quotable opinions regarding democracy, government and our current non sitting parliament. Here are just a few for you all to think about.

“It is a small symptom of a grave condition. Our Parliament has become the most dysfunctional in the English-speaking world, weaker and more irrelevant than the U.S. Congress or the parliaments of Britain, Australia or New Zealand.

If Britain is the mother of Parliaments, her Canadian daughter is a fallen woman. Government MPs are cowed; parliamentary committees are too often irrelevant. Three consecutive minority governments haven't strengthened the powers of the House to hold the government to account; instead, they've encouraged new methods by which the Prime Minister's Office seeks to centralize authority.”
John Ibbitson

“This prorogation can be seen as a reflection of the decay of Parliament's relevance that has been taking place over the last generation,”
Peter Dobell, founding director of the Parliamentary Centre, an Ottawa-based institute that promotes parliamentary government around the world.

(Governments everywhere) “suffer from the same malaise: Our elected leaders and representatives cannot overcome their entrenched partisanship to tackle our respective nations' long-term policy dilemmas” because of the “dysfunctional short-termism that sees momentary political advantage trump the common good.”
Prof. Johansson, Victoria University, New Zealand

"It is difficult to take a law-and-order agenda seriously when it is argued with so little respect for facts. Justice above all depends upon truth. As our country’s Minister of Justice and the Attorney General of Canada, your first allegiance must always be to the truth, far beyond any political or partisan gamesmanship. Our system of justice depends upon it. How can Canadians have any confidence in their justice system, if the person responsible for that system – the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada – is prepared to play fast and loose with the truth?"
Liberal Senator Jim Cowan in his letter to Justice Minister Rob Nicholson.

"Let us take care that no temporary fit of prejudice or passion, injurious to our country or disadvantageous to our interests is allowed to force a measure through this Parliament without giving to the people a further opportunity for considering it..."
Senator Abbott in 1890 as quoted by Senator Elane McCoy

“Over the past 50 years, Canadian prime ministers have taken back powers it took 500 years to strip from British monarchs. Harper's current confrontation with Parliament is a rare opportunity to reinforce that the Prime Minister answers to the Commons and, through it, to the people.”
James Travers

"It's deeply ironic and hypocritical to keep the briefing book for the minister of democratic reform a secret. It just shows the cult and culture of excessive secrecy of this government."
Duff Connacher, founder and co-ordinator of Democracy Watch

"Awareness of the threat to democracy must go far beyond bemoaning the fact that young people don't vote. That is the tip of the iceberg of electoral dysfunction. The most effective solution is to approve a change in how we elect members of federal and provincial parliaments. No other single step will have as many salutary impacts."
Elizabeth May in her book Losing Confidence.

“We believe in accountability of elected representatives to the people who elect them, and that the duty of elected members to their constituents should supersede their obligations to their political parties.”
Stephen Harper in the 1988 Reform Party platform

“Democracy requires dialog”
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1 comment:

Colette Amelia said...

Stephen Harper at the Colin Brown Memorial Dinner, National Citizens Coalition, 1994!

Whether Canada ends up as o­ne national government or two national governments or several national governments, or some other kind of arrangement is, quite frankly, secondary in my opinion… And whether Canada ends up with o­ne national government or two governments or ten governments, the Canadian people will require less government no matter what the constitutional status or arrangement of any future country may be.

seems like for an awfully long time he really had no respect for the Canadian Parliamentary system.