Canada’s Conservatives: Debasing Democracy

Canadians should be deeply concerned at the erosion and debasement of democracy by Canada’s federal Conservative government.

Using CSIS and the RCMP to spy on environmentalists, including seniors in a Church basement in Kelowna and the all-native high school basketball tourney in Prince Rupert, all the while cozying up to energy companies; to complicity in spying on leaders at G-8 and G-20 summits while using force to suppress democratic protests; NSA type intrusions into the private lives of Canadians; manipulating and stacking advisory committees on food safety, the environment and judicial appointments; stifling parliamentary debate, omnibus bills, prorogation and vicious personalized attacks on political opponents.

It is inflicting harm on our democratic culture.

The muzzling of government scientists, weakening independent governmental watchdog agencies, and attacks on Kevin Page – the outgoing and highly effective Parliamentary Budget Officer – who exposed the real costs and truth behind government budgetary numbers are further examples of debasing of responsible and accountable parliamentary governance.

Canada’s declining image on international human rights and climate change – being designated as international “fossil of the year” – is a blight on it’s historic and hard-earned image as a respected and responsible global player. It is reflective of a government that does not listen to voices, at home or abroad.

The sordid display during parliamentary Question Period, by the PM’s right hand man, Paul Calandra, refusing to answer questions and defying the Speaker, is a new low. It shows a disturbing contempt for parliamentary principles and practices. It is more than unaccountability; it reflects an arrogance and bully political culture that says, “We are perfect, you are worthless.”

Conservative MP’s and Senators do what they’re told or keep silent, their loyalty to the party seemingly greater than respect for fairness and rights. These are issues that transcend party affiliation; they are integral to respect for democracy and ought to concern all Canadians – irrespective of political stripe. Power corrupts. As the song goes, “You don’t know what you’ve got, ‘til it’s gone.”

We should all be concerned.

About Bill Sundhu

Canadian lawyer, Former Judge, Member of Kellogg College of University of Oxford (Masters Degree in International Human Rights Law 2010).
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