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, April 3, 2011

The Harper Legacy - Part 2

The Rise to Power, In Opposition and Before 2004 – 2006

When the 38th parliament fell in Nov 2005 the mantra from Mr Harper was about bringing in an “Open and Accountable” government and early in 2006 he was given a chance to do that. It was indeed the subject of part of the ensuing throne speech as follows:-

    No aspect of responsible government is more fundamental than having the trust of citizens. Canadians' faith in the institutions and practices of government has been eroded. This new government trusts in the Canadian people, and its goal is that Canadians will once again trust in their government. It is time for accountability.
    To restore this trust, the first piece of legislation the Government will bring forward will be the Federal Accountability Act.
    This omnibus legislation and the associated Accountability Action Plan will change the current system of oversight and management by strengthening the rules and institutions that ensure transparency and accountability to Canadians. The legislation will ban institutional and large personal donations to political parties; it will ensure that positions of public trust cannot be used as stepping stones to private lobbying; and it will provide real protection for whistle-blowers who show great courage in coming forward to do what is right.
    The Government will strengthen the capacity and independence of officers of Parliament, including the Auditor General, to hold the Government to account. It will increase the transparency of appointments, contracts and auditing within government departments and Crown corporations.
    Effective checks and balances are important, but they are not enough. The trust of citizens must be earned every day. The Government will work to earn that trust.

This from what we now know became the most controlling, secretive and unaccountable government in Canadian history. Non of the above has in fact taken place, just the opposite has transpired. The question then becomes 'if they lied about this what else have they said that reveals their un-trustworthiness. Some of Mr Harpers words whilst in opposition and earlier when the president of the National Citizens Coalition are quite revealing given his attitude to the parliamentary system once he was in power. Lets take a look at a few.

And I think the real problem that we're facing already is that the government doesn't accept that it got a minority. “
When a government starts trying to cancel dissent or avoid dissent is frankly when it’s rapidly losing its moral authority to govern.”

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 “

If you want to be a government in a minority Parliament, you have to work with other people.”

It’s the government’s obligation to look really to the third parties to get the support to govern.”

The government can only be brought down because it alienates several parties in the House.”

What the government has to do, if it wants to govern for any length of time, is it must appeal primarily to the third parties in the House of Commons to get them to support it.”

And finally this most telling quote -
"It is the Parliament that's supposed to run the country, not just the largest party and the single leader of that party," Harper said on Sept. 9, 2004, alongside Duceppe and Layton at a news conference on Parliament Hill. "That's a criticism I've had and that we've had and that most Canadians have had for a long, long time now so this is an opportunity to start to change that."
And yet once in power he has demonstrated no desire to work with other MPs, has prorogued parliament twice to avoid a confidence vote and now denies that he ever even thought of collaborating with other partys to take power. A party that fires any government commission chair that dares to disagree with them and controls MPs to the extent that even his own caucus have little choice but to follow along with what the PMO dictates. He has made a concerted effort to 'cancel dissent' and to silence those who have expressed a divergent opinion, particularly those 'independent' commissions and committees. More on that in later posts, lets look back at earlier times....

Between 1997 and 2002, when Harper was out of public life, he served as president of the National Citizens Coalition, a conservative think tank and lobby group that has campaigned prominently on many libertarian, anti-worker and anti-public service issues over the years including:-
Opposition to fair tax reform; privatization of public sector services; court challenges to electoral laws that would limit third party spending; media campaigns attacking grants for the arts, advocacy organizations, and social science research; attacks on public funding for what it calls "interest groups" such as human rights or women's groups.

Harper opposed new federal legislation that placed restrictions on political advertising of private interest groups during federal elections. Harper took the federal government to court, arguing the legislation violated constitutional rights to freedom of expression, freedom of association, and the right to vote.
Harper represented the Reform party in the HoC from 93 to 97 but quit his Parliamentary seat and was named Vice-President of the NCC the same day laying the groundwork for political power through the creation of a new political party he intended to lead according to his own strategic vision. 
It seems quite clear that Harper will do and say anything to forward his own agenda which seems to be getting and keeping power and helping out his corporate private sector friends. I am not going to dwell upon this period of Harpers history except to say the ideology of the NCC is clearly front and center in more recent times, the attacks and de-funding of womens groups continues, the suppression of scientific research and dialog continues, the push for funding of political partys by the rich and the suppression of public funding continues, and the push for 'smaller' (read more centralized PMO controlled) government continues.
With files from The Harper Index and Maple Leaf Web and several other sources.

On a personal note if the Harper regimes goal is to make us so sick of political BS and to make us feel as if there is no hope for improvement in our democratic processes then they are succeeding, I for one am experiencing great difficulty in remaining optimistic. My personal funk is not helped by the media total lack of objective reporting on the many road blocks that Harper puts in their way. That they remain largely silent about his control of questions at his numerous 'photo ops' across the country and continue to promote his spin and 'talking points' without question does not bode well for our democracy. The Media is as just guilty for the democratic deficit as are the politicians of all stripes.

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