Saturday, June 16, 2012

Canada's Democratic Crisis

Ralph Goodale's June 15th update... It's a good one!

June 15th, 2012


From about 8:40 pm this past Wednesday until just before midnight on Thursday, the House of Commons was locked into non-stop marathon voting on 159 proposed amendments to the Harper government's so-called "budget" legislation.

For some 27 consecutive hours, MPs voted on a wild mixture of Conservative policies -- everything from cutting old age pensions and killing community pastures to the elimination of environmental protection at the federal level, a more restrictive and arbitrary immigration system, fewer food inspectors, less civilian supervision over Canadian spies, etc., etc., etc.

This "omnibus Bill" was completely unprecedented -- 750 clauses spread over 421 pages purporting to alter 70 other Canadian laws all at once, with only about a quarter of all that flowing from legitimate "budget" matters.  Everything else was just jammed in and rammed through under ludicrous time constraints, without decent democratic scrutiny or debate.

One thing was obvious.  The government didn't want the public to be informed!

When it was all over -- and 308 bleary-eyed MPs had finally gone home -- the Harper regime forced its will on Canadians.  Not a single comma was modified.

The Conservatives claim to have a "strong mandate" to do this sort of thing -- to do anything they please, actually.  But in truth, only 24-percent of voting age Canadians actually supported Mr. Harper in the last election.

And I bet none of them cast their ballots intending to slash the small pensions available in future to elderly widows living on the lowest of incomes.

Stephen Harper doesn't pretend to care about folks like that. Neither does he respect the hopes and aspirations of the 76-percent of Canadians who did not vote Conservative. To him, they're just road-kill getting in his way.

But many other people DO care.

I was amazed at the high volume of social-media chatter all through this grotesque procedure.  The vast majority were strongly supportive of doing everything possible to stand in Mr. Harper's way.

There were also a handful of right-wingers on the other side -- typically abusive and some downright vulgar.  It's telling how they cannot argue the substance of their convictions. They resort quickly to slogans and profanity.

But mainstream Canada is so much better than that.  Most people in this fine country want government that's smart and efficient, but also compassionate and inclusive, to bring out the best in Canadians.

For these folks -- the vast majority -- the "marathon" toward that worthy goal is still ongoing!

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