Friday, December 16, 2011

Canadian Democracy and willful blindness

It was the Liberals who proposed as part of their attack ads that Harper was a man with a “secret agenda.”

I considered these attack ads (as I consider all attack ads) pure trash. Harper was upfront about both his policies and politics, from mega-prisons and the elimination of the gun registry to his contempt for the press and his intention to push policy through the house as quickly as possible. I didn’t like it. But a majority of voters did. That’s democracy. So I just have to suck it up for four more years.

Howls from the both the centre, the left - and that includes myself - have helped me develop sympathy and compassion for fellow Canadians on the right. Now we know how it feels to be steamrolled by a majority government whose values we despise – this must be how right-wingers felt through all the years of Liberal government. (Not that I haven’t been steamrolled by the occasional Liberal policy, but I didn’t wake up every day knowing I would hate every single thing they would ever do). I never knew how those on the right side of politics felt. I get it now. Mea culpa for my past arrogance. It’s your turn to gloat my right-winged friends.

But while those on the right, cheerfully celebrate their policy wins – everything from putting the “royal” back in Navy to cancelling Kyoto (and while those on the left seethe) we have become so separated by the debate over political values, that we seem no longer able to intelligibly discuss the serious erosion of our democratic rights.

I am not talking about gazebos and the type of disgusting pork-barreling that is contemptuous, but that all parties engage in, to the point that we see it with a level of eye-rolling cynicism that we ave learned to accept such things as ‘politics as usual.” Rather I am talking about the unprecedented and serious erosion of our democratic rights: consistently limiting debate on bills, withholding information from the opposition and the public, and the proposal to hold Parliamentary committees in camera. These infringements on our rights as citizens in a democracy need serious examination by all Canadians regardless of political stripe.

I am beginning to wonder where we are going with all of this. It’s certainly a slippery slope.(I am not quite ready to join the tinfoil hat club that equates greater internet policing powers and mega prisons as a sign that blogging dissidents like me will find ourselves in jail.) An attempt by any government to entrench itself in power, not by the good government, but by eroding elements of democracy that typically inform the public is wrong. If this is what this government has done after sitting in power for four months, what will be the case in four years?

Conservatives cheering on their political wins have a right to do so, while people like me shake in anger. Sure. Make me suffer. Consider it payback time.

But if you equally cheer on the Harper government’s erosion of our democratic rights and principals, you are just being willfully blind. I wish I could find a more intellectual source to quote, but alas it was best said in Revenge of the Sith by Padmé as she watched Emperor Palpatine tell a cheering Senate that he had taken all power away from them to form a Galactic Empire “So this is how liberty dies... with thunderous applause.”

And we too, on the centre and the left, are willfully blind if we trust that some future Liberal or NDP government will willing reverse changes that insolate their parties from public scrutiny.


No comments:

Personal Business Directory - BTS Local