At the same time the Canadian PM is doing everything he can to shove things like the oil sands project on the rest of world we’re dealing with an acute democratic deficit here.
The latest and in many way ugliest episode in this sad farce is the “Fair” Elections Act the conservatives are going to be ramming through Parliament. They claim to have consulted with our Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand, but here’s what he has to say about the bill.
In an interview airing Saturday on CBC Radio’s The House, Mayrand said “my reading of the act is that I can no longer speak about democracy in this country.”
“I’m not aware of any electoral bodies around the world who can not talk about democracy,” Mayrand told host Evan Solomon.
It will prevent Elections Canada from doing anything more than parroting the governments position on elections from the sounds of it.
Elections Canada would be forbidden from launching ad campaigns encouraging Canadians to vote. Surveys and research would be forbidden under the new bill, Mayrand said.
“Most of the research will no longer be published because these are communications to the public.”
The chief electoral officer and the commissioner of Canada elections would also no longer be allowed to publish their reports, Mayrand said.
“These reports will no longer be available. In fact, not only not available. I don’t think it will be done at all.”
The leader of the opposition is calling the conservatives serial cheaters and there’s more than enough evidence to back that up.
NDP Leader Tom Mulcair says his party will move to send the government’s proposed election law reforms to committee before the first vote in the House of Commons, accusing the Conservatives of being “serial cheaters” with ulterior motives.
Election reforms on Wednesdays with Kady
Mulcair said if the bill is true to its name — the Fair Elections Act — then the government should accept the party’s offer to have experts look at the bill and testify in front of committee along with Canadians.
But, he said, if “this is mostly about making life easier for the Conservatives, who are serial cheaters in federal general elections,” then he expects the government to limit debate in the House and rush through the proposed law.
“I am quite concerned that this is the first offering of a government and a party, again, with a track record — proven — of constantly cheating in elections,” Mulcair said.
Some of the illegal election activity by the conservatives so far has included:
In-and-out campaign financing in 2006 when they got their first minority government.
In the last election when the conservatives “won” a majority there was extensive use of illegal robocalls to voters identified as non-supporters in a confidential party compiled list that affected over 100 ridings across the country that directed them to non-existent polling stations. It’s not known how many voters didn’t cast their ballots as a result.
There has also been a suppression of the media, one of the first steps that Stephen Harper took as PM was to notify the press they would not have reasonable access to he or his ministers. Instead they were required to provide a list of questions that he would answer as he felt.
Another first step Harper took as PM was to bring a newly elected Liberal MP into his caucus and cabinet.
There have also been cases of conservative MPs trying to cut out opposition MPs in neighbouring ridings by appointing go-to people to prevent MPs from exercising their mandates.
An aggressive Conservative plan has bestowed a group of British Columbians with a representative from the governing party before they’ve voted one in.
Houston Mayor Sharon Smith has been appointed “government go-to person” for the NDP-held riding of Skeena-Bulkley Valley by the federal Conservative caucus chair for B.C., Dick Harris.
The MP for Cariboo-Prince George justifies his action with some pretty blunt opinions about how government really works in this country.
He says that, realistically, it’s not possible for Nathan Cullen, the elected New Democrat representing Skeena, to access government services on behalf of his constituents in the manner that an MP of Conservative stripe would be able to.
Throwing in the waste bin the principles that make representative government in Canada function, Harris explained on a local radio show the other week: “To have access to the ministers, realistically, you have to be part of the government. You want to contact the Prime Minister’s Office or even the prime minister when you need to, it helps immensely to be part of the government.”
The PM has also repeatedly shut down Parliament to block actions that he felt threatened his power against the tradition if not the law of our system.
In December 2008, Prime Minister Stephen Harper prorogued Parliament to avoid a planned vote against his new minority government. It wasn’t a clear vote of non-confidence as some have claimed, but it was definitely a united challenge of the government by the three opposition parties. The opposition parties did not stay united, however, and the Conservatives’ minority government lasted another two-and-a-half years.
In December 2009, Prime Minister Harper prorogued Parliament again, claiming that he didn’t want to have the government in session during the Vancouver Winter Games in February, 2010. However, the prorogation also meant that a House of Commons committee’s hearings into the Afghan detainee scandal were delayed for a few months.
Protest has a long tradition in this country and supposedly we have the right of peaceful assembly, but under this government protesters risk life and limb if they oppose the government due to the use of undercover police as agent provacateurs.
Protesters are accusing police of using undercover agents to provoke violent confrontations at the North American leaders’ summit in Montebello, Que.
Such accusations have been made before after similar demonstrations but this time the alleged “agents provocateurs” have been caught on camera.
A video, posted on YouTube, shows three young men, their faces masked by bandannas, mingling Monday with protesters in front of a line of police in riot gear. At least one of the masked men is holding a rock in his hand.
The three are confronted by protest organizer Dave Coles, president of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada. Coles makes it clear the masked men are not welcome among his group of protesters, whom he describes as mainly grandparents. He urges them to leave and find their own protest location.
The Canadian government also likely did the same thing on a much greater scale in Toronto and violated citizens rights to peacefully protest.
Police violated civil rights, detained people illegally, and used excessive force during the G20 summit two years ago, a new report concludes.
The report by Ontario’s independent police watchdog also blasts the temporary detention centre that Toronto police set up for its poor planning, design and operation that saw people detained illegally.
The Office of the Independent Police Review Director found police breached several constitutional rights during the tumultuous event, in which more than 1,100 people were arrested, most to be released without charge.
“Some police officers ignored basic rights citizens have under the Charter and overstepped their authority when they stopped and searched people arbitrarily and without legal justification,” the report states.
It was also revealed that early on the conservative government generated a 200 page memo to be used by its MPs to sabotage and prevent the normal functioning of Parliament which has resulted in the country being run out of the Prime Ministers Office.
Even some conservative MPs have quit the party in disgust, one claiming they’re being used as “trained seals” by the PMO.
Alberta MP Brent Rathgeber said he has left the Conservative caucus in part because of the control Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s office exercises over backbench MPs, which was preventing him from representing his constituents.
The former Tory MP, who announced he was quitting late Wednesday night to sit as an Independent, said staff in Harper’s office — who are “half my age” — pressure the caucus to obey their talking points and vote “like trained seals.”
“When you have a PMO that tightly scripts its backbenches like this one attempts to do, MPs don’t represent their constituents in Ottawa, they represent the government to their constituents,” he told reporters.
Rathgeber spoke bluntly about his former party and the influence the PMO has when he held a news conference in his Edmonton riding Thursday.
Another conservative MP is trying to pass a bill that will limit his own leaders power.
Conservative MP Michael Chong today tabled the proposed reform act, a private member’s bill intended to restore a system of checks and balances that would shift some power away from party leaders towards members of Parliament and their party caucuses.
“The reform act is an effort to strengthen Canada’s democratic institutions by restoring power and the role of elected members of Parliament in the House of Commons,” Chong told reporters in Ottawa on Tuesday morning.
Under this bill, Chong said, MPs would be able to better represent the people who voted for them.
There’s much more going on here, but I think you get the idea.
Given all this, can Canada which is supposed to be a constitutional monarchy run by an elected Parliament, be considered a failed state?