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 12, 2010

The Week of Revelations?

Its been a week of revelations, or perhaps that should be a week of confirmations of what we already knew, but either way the reports of the Auditor General and Ontario Ombudsman have given several thing a little more light of day. A number of other press releases and news reports this week have shown that Democracy is indeed Under Fire, I am not sure whether I should be depressed that such things are going on or glad that the manipulation of our system of government is being brought to light.
The following are but a few of the reports this week, if you can read these and then say that our democracy is not in trouble then you are either brain dead or so blind that you should not need those rose-coloured glasses that you are wearing!
Read them and weep.......

Prime Minister Stephen Harper nominated Ouimet as commissioner on June 12, 2007, saying her "unique combination of skills and experience [would] serve her well as she leads the implementation of the new regime for the protection of whistleblowers."
It didn't turn out that way, given the AG's findings, and one must question whether this was the intent of Mr. Harper all along, to undermine the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner position and let public sector whistleblowers twist in the wind.

“Our voting system creates a large risk of the most anti-democratic of all outcomes, which is a majority government that got the minority of public votes,” said Green Leader Elizabeth May. May was granted the right to intervene in a case before the Quebec Court of Appeal that argues the current electoral system in that province violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

A full year after Parliament demanded those documents, this charade hasn’t made a single document public. It flies in the face of the Speaker’s ruling. Instead of holding this government to account, my opposition colleagues are helping to shield records at the heart of this investigation,” said Defence Critic Jack Harris. “If they couldn’t see it six months ago, surely they can see it now: We need a public inquiry.” http://farnwide.blogspot.com/2010/12/parliament-is-submissive.html

It will be twelve months ago Friday that the Commons passed a motion demanding the government release documents revealing what ministers and generals knew about Afghanistan prisoner abuse. Since then, an ugly fight that included the padlocking of Parliament and a celebrated ruling by Speaker Peter Milliken fizzled into a hapless skirmish, leaving Canadians none the wiser.

Conservative prospects were so bleak last December that Harper prorogued Parliament — thinly claiming the government needed time to recalibrate its agenda — rather than disclose documents widely believed to be damning. But oh what a difference a year makes. Today Conservatives are climbing opinion polls, pressure for an inquiry is below zero and Liberals along with the Bloc are mired in a glacial process that has yet to make a single document public.

“By changing the legal landscape without fanfare in this way, regulation 233/10 operated as a trap for those who relied on their ordinary legal rights,” wrote Marin in his exhaustive post-mortem.....
“The effect of the regulation … was to infringe on the freedom of expression in ways that do not seem justifiable in a free and democratic society,”

The Harper government is bracing for a backlash over a border security agreement it is negotiating with the United States, anticipating it will spark worries about eroding sovereignty and privacy rights, a document obtained by The Globe and Mail shows...............
The communications strategy for the perimeter security declaration – which the document says will be unveiled in January, 2011 – predicts one of the biggest potential critics will be the federal privacy commissioner Jennifer Stoddart. That’s because the deal is expected to increase the amount of data exchanged between law enforcement and other government authorities in both countries.

Canada is under pressure from U.S. officials to further comply with American security rules which in some cases, threatens its sovereignty and the privacy of its citizens. As a result of the war on terrorism, the U.S. government now has more power to restrict air travel and is not only dictating North American, but also international security measures.
Bill C-42, An Act to amend the Aeronautics Act would require Canadian airline carriers that fly over the U.S. to provide the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) with passenger information. This includes name, date of birth, gender, as well as passport and itinerary details when applicable.

If the concepts of power, representation, justice, equality, citizenship and human rights figured more prominently in public debate, then we would have at our fingertips an analytically rigorous set of ideas that both reveal and explain the uneven distribution of influence and resources that undermines democracy at this time. Taking transformative action to rebuild our political fabric would follow from each of those starting points. Yet all six themes have lost traction relative to the totemic markers of our time, notably competitiveness, productivity and economic growth.

There are times when all our politicians fail Canadians, and even the most partisan amongst us have to admit it they’re all behaving like fools. And the actions of the major three parties when it comes to Bill C-12 is one of those times.C-12 is a government bill that the Conservatives have been in no big hurry to pass, and the opposition parties have shown no particular desire to push them on.

A remote area of Mexican desert is popularly referred to as the 'Silent Zone'.  Radio communications are said to fail there due to local magnetic fields, and some claim that conversations cannot even be heard when people are in the Zone.  Is the Senate in danger of becoming a similarly afflicted zone?  Quite possibly, although not by reason of natural causes.

Perhaps the whole of Canada is in a silent zone, because our political masters sure do not seem to be hearing us, or if they are our words are left drifting in the wind.........

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1 comment:

Ms. M said...

Hi Rural,

I'm completely out of the loop these days (I'm immersed in the politics of goat-care instead), but I'm glad to see you are still doing this good work - you ROCK!! A voice of honesty out in the wilderness.....and even though I've buried my head in the straw bedding, I still appreciate what you are doing here. Have a wonderful winter!!