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 5, 2014

2014 – The year we 'loose' our democracy?

Whilst some say that it is already gone and that we are being subject to an Oligarchy well on its way to a Dictatorship, a view that I find it hard to argue against, there is still hope. The recent push back by a small number of Conservative MP's gives me a little hope, Michael Chong’s introduction of a private members bill to limit leaders’ powers is one such small step, Bruce Hyer's brave & principled step to quit the NDP caucus due to being forced to vote as dictated by the party whip and more recently to join the Greens (the only party to truly respect and promote true democracy) are small steps in the right direction.

The Green party leader, Elizabeth May has long been quite vocal regarding the threats to out democracy and continues to be so, she recently said “We are on a slippery slope to the loss of our democracy,” Power is now so concentrated in the Prime Minister’s Office and its unelected staff members, says May, that Canadian democracy already resembles “a dictatorship punctuated by elections.”
She goes on to say that this must become a ballot-box issue in the 2015 campaign if things are not going to get much worse. What future prime minister is likely to arrive in office and start worrying that he or she has too much power, she asks. Indeed it has been seen before on many issues that the mainstream political partys will promise the world just to get elected but many of those promises fall by the wayside one in power, particularly if the have a majority in parliament. The current regime is particularly guilty in this regard, remember that open and accountable promise?!

Eminent political scientist Peter Russell even made a YouTube video during the 2011 election campaign, warning voters not to reward the Conservatives’ disregard for democracy. “If the Harper Conservatives were to win a majority in the House of Commons, it would be an indication that parliamentary crime pays,” said Russell, an emeritus University of Toronto academic and a respected constitutional expert, who’s not known for overstatement. Indeed anyone who is taking notice knows that the conservatives have no compunction with 'bending the rules' be it during an election with questionable spending or false calls to electors aimed at changing the outcome in their flavor. The same kind of disrespect for democratic process is seen almost daily in the House of Commons, in the Senate and more particularly in Committee deliberations.
There is a more recent promise that the Cons will keep that being the promise to balance the budget prior to the 2015 election, strange how the same people who spent a massive surplus away in a few months when first coming to power and thus having little to spare during that 'downturn' brought on by the banking speculators are suddenly able to spend so much less. If we look at how they are doing this it become obvious that it is purely a political ploy and nothing to do with maintaining or improving the Canadian way of life.
It is of course being done at the expense of the environment, scientific research, social support organizations, the reputation of Canada world wide and even the spirit of cooperation between provincial governments and the Feds. All this so that they have money to promise that they will reinstate 'services' to selected portions of the population who are more likely to vote for them and to spend on promotion of their pet Alberta centric mostly foreign owned industry that is going to be the 'economic engine' of Canada. Good luck with that, the economic engine of China more like and Canada will be left with the cleaning bill! Me, cynical, your kidding eh!

The other thing that I have difficulty with and which I do not see any other of the big three changing much is those 'free trade' deals that are in the works with the Pacific nations and with Europe. As with NAFTA the 'negotiations' are carried on behind closed doors with no parliamentary input but with many 'advisers' from industry no doubt in the loop who are much more concerned with their profits than whether it will benefit Canadians. What has leaked out tells us that our very right to hire who we want or to buy equipment and goods from local or Canadian suppliers for Municipal, Provincial or Federally funded projects is being compromised by 'investor state' clauses withing these 'agreements'. What else is agreed to that will only benefit the multinationals that are bent upon controlling our access to everything we use or eat we will not know until long after the deals are jammed down out throats.

That such deals can get to this point without any details being given to our 'representatives' in the House let alone letting us know what is being given away in the name of increased international trade is to me but one more indication of how little government in general cares about the average Canadians opinion outside of an election period. Unfortunately that goes for most, if not all, governments provincial, federal or world wide for that matter, and the only thing we can do is try to change the system to make them more accountable. As Ms May says we must get firm promises regarding electoral and parliamentary reform from all the partys and their candidates BEFORE the next election and then do everything in our power to see that those promises are kept. I do think if enough folks make this their priority we can get the promises..... keeping them? Now that’s a different problem!

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Owen Gray said...

It's clear that our political parties only care about citizens at election time.

We must insist on accountability between elections -- which may mean recall elections.

Rural said...

How we are to get such accountability enshrined in law when the uncountable are the ones in charge of the process to bring forward change is the question Owen!
Those that promised an open and accountable government are in fact the worst so far encountered in that regard, will any of the others reverse this trend in any meaningful way? Not without intense public pressure I suspect.