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, June 21, 2015

Voices for Democracy

Voices-Voix is a non-partisan coalition of Canadians and Canadian organizations committed to defending our collective and individual rights to dissent, advocacy and democratic space. They have documented attacks against organizations, individuals and institutions that have raised their voices, to show the pattern of government silencing those who exercise their right to dissent.
They have a membership of over 200 organizations and “encourage Canadians to raise their voices so that governments meet their core responsibilities to respect the equality, transparency and diversity of voices that make a democracy thrive.''
They recently released a report (1 MB PDF) titled “Dismantling Democracy” which documents in great detail the actions of the Harper Regimes in silencing both those within government and outside of it who have been critical of this regimes policies.

In their opening statement they outline the failure of the Harper Regime to foster the Open and Accountable atmosphere promised when they were first elected that has now become the antitheses of their actions and policies.

Rather than consistently promoting a robust democracy,
Canadian governments have often deployed a range of
methods to limit dissent, public debate and democratic
participation in Canada. But since 2006 there has been
an unprecedented intensification of the use of these
silencing tactics, particularly by the federal government.
Deliberate funding cuts have affected the public and
charitable sectors; audits are targeting organizations
critical of the government; parliamentary processes
are being abused to undermine accountability, and
critics of the government are being harassed and
vilified. All aspects of Canadian democracy are being
targeted, including the institutions and processes
of parliamentary democracy; the development and
dissemination of knowledge; the voices of marginalized
communities, and respect for human rights.

An inclusive and robust democracy requires that
governments foster rights to free expression, free
association, peaceful assembly and equality. To thrive,
civil society must be adequately resourced, able to operate
free from interference, and free to engage meaningfully
with government. By failing to promote an enabling
environment or foster the human rights that are critical
to democracy, the government denies Canadians the
dynamic, innovative society they aspire to build.

The introduction to the Undermining Democracy section clearly spells out their concerns (and mine) with the many and ongoing actions by the Harper Regime that diminish and threaten to destroy our democracy.

Dissenting and diverse voices within the public sector are being silenced. Parliamentary processes are being misused and abused. Omnibus budget bills are introducing sweeping changes to federal legislation, curtailing political debate. Parliamentarians and civil servants are being vilified or fired for publicly disagreeing with government policy.
Independent advice from the public service is being ignored or eliminated. Oversight
mechanisms are being undermined through government control and interference.

Compounding these failures in Canadian governance is the federal government’s attack on knowledge. Independent research institutions, government research programs, and libraries and archives have been systematically defunded. The brunt of these cuts are borne by departments, programs, or projects seen as inconsistent with government policy. Public sector scientists and researchers are being prevented from speaking publicly, and non-government organizations working to promote knowledge are seeing their funding cut and their records audited. Curtailing knowledge jeopardizes the government’s ability to consider options and alternatives and develop sound, evidence based policy that responds to the public’s various needs.

Marginalized communities have been especially penalized in the government’s zeal to

silence dissent. Funding for organizations working to protect and advance the rights
of all Canadians is increasingly under threat, and audits have been used to intimidate
and muzzle the charitable sector. This has affected organizations providing services for and conducting advocacy on behalf of women, Indigenous peoples, veterans, and the economically marginalized, making it harder for them to organize effectively, express their concerns, and hold government to account.

The federal government has invoked national security, foreign policy and ‘border
protection’ to silence accountability and limit transparency for its own human rights
infringements, eroding the ability of everyone to participate equally in democracy.
The impact of these tactics is devastating for debate, dissent, diversity and ultimately,
Canada’s democracy.”

23 case studies of instances of silencing the public sector where individuals or departments have been “Fired, forced removal or not re-appointed” or subject to “Funding cuts and restrictive internal policies “ are linked to in the report and are available on their web site. All information is fully supported with references to source material. There is far to much information contained in this report to even summarize here and it is a long read but I encourage all those who want to see a documented outline of what the Harper Regime has and continues to do to our democracy and in particular to those non profit and charitable organizations who speak out against such action to take the time to read it.

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Lorne said...

The report is a damning indictment, Rural. It needs to be promulgated far and wide as Canadians prepare to make their October decision.

Owen Gray said...

The report ties all the pieces together, Rural. When all the evidence is assembled, it's clear that our present government is anything but democratic.

Rural said...

It is indeed impressive in both scope and detail Owen, you may be sure I will be referring to this report in future posts Lorne. I do hope it receives far greater publicity than it has thus far received.