Politics and its Discontents

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Reflections, Observations, and Analyses Pertaining to the Canadian Political Scene
Updated: 36 min 26 sec ago

We Could All Be Joseph K.

Sat, 10/25/2014 - 07:34


"Someone must have been telling lies about Joseph K., for without having done anything wrong he was arrested one fine morning."
- The opening sentence of Franz Kafka's The Trial

Having read The Trial many years ago, I remember being initially struck by the patent absurdity of the novel's premise, that a man could be under arrest, allowed to move about with certain restrictions, and yet never learn the nature of the charges against him. The story does not end well for Josepsh K.

After reading it, of course, I realized that it was a metaphor for the totalitarian state, a state in which the innocent are swept up by the state after a murky process by which they are identified as enemies of the country.

Without wishing to be melodramatic, we are clearly moving closer to that state.

After the events of last week, tragedies that at this point appear to have been perpetrated by mentally disturbed individuals and not organized terrorism, the Harper regime seems to be edging closer towards measures that would allow for a much wider definition of 'preventative arrests,' already toughened up last year, as well as a shielding of the identities of those who accuse others of being terrorists, neither of which would likely have prevented the deaths of two Canadian soldiers. Limits to freedom of speech, as noted yesterday, are also being considered.

Today, The Globe and Mail reports:
Measures now under consideration include changing the so-called threshold for preventative arrests and more closely tracking and monitoring people who may pose a threat, such as requiring them to check in with an officer regularly even without any charges against them. Being looked at, too, is potential legislation that would make it a crime to support terrorists’ acts online, says a senior government source.
Perhaps most ominously, a measure that brings us closer to the nightmare world of Joseph K., is the fact that
legislation giving the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) the ability to better hide the identities of its informants (italics mine)...is to be tabled in the House of Commons as early as Monday or Tuesday, according to a senior government source.
Warns security expert Wesley Wark:
“Let’s be sure we know everything that was done and everything that was missed before we come up with fixes.”

Mr. Wark said that he “would be very cautious about deciding that the real fix is in extending legal powers or the real fix is in let’s go and use those preventive arrest measures … I would hesitate to advocate for that until we know what really went wrong.”
Secret trials, anonymous accusers, mass surveillance: strange ways indeed to protect our sacred democracy.

I'll leave the final word to Star letter-writer Brigitte Nowak of Toronto:
The authorities have not yet stated whether the attack in Ottawa was made by one of the 90 or so “radicalized” persons under surveillance by authorities, but already, there are calls for “increased security.”

Average Canadians are already being videotaped wherever they go, subjected to demeaning scrutiny before accessing public buildings, airplanes, etc. Any more security, reduced freedom, additional surveillance, and the “jihadists,” bent on changing our way of life, will have won.Recommend this Post

And Thus It Begins

Fri, 10/24/2014 - 06:26
One of the misgivings I expressed in yesterday's post seems to be a little closer to reality today.

The National Post headline reads:

Conservatives mulling legislation making it illegal to condone terrorist acts online.

Says John Ivison,
The Conservatives are understood to be considering new legislation that would make it an offence to condone terrorist acts online.

There is frustration in government, and among law enforcement agencies, that the authorities can’t detain or arrest people who express sympathy for atrocities committed overseas and who may pose a threat to public safety, one Conservative MP said. “Do we need new offences? If so which?”

Sources suggest the government is likely to bring in new hate speech legislation that would make it illegal to claim terrorist acts are justified online.

The Prime Minister told the House of Commons on Thursday that Canada’s law and policing powers need to be strengthened in the areas of surveillance, detention and arrest. He said work is already under way to provide law enforcement agencies with “additional tools” and that work will now be expedited.
Hopefully, even the naive and guileless will want to ask themselves, after reading the article, if it is wise to let government decide what constitutes unacceptable speech?

I assume no further comment on my part is needed.

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Some Much-Needed Perspective

Thu, 10/23/2014 - 16:31


Although this will probably get lost in the jingoistic rhetoric sure to follow yesterday's tragedy, this story from the Vancouver Sun is well-worth reading:
"His behaviour was not normal," said David Ali, vice-president of the Masjid Al-Salaam mosque, adding Zehaf-Bibeau used to trip the mosque's fire alarms by trying to enter through the wrong doors. "We try to be open to everyone. But people on drugs don't behave normally."
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A Very Impressive Lady

Thu, 10/23/2014 - 13:44
Every time I hear Elizabeth May speak, I am struck by the balance and wisdom of her words. A very impressive lady, she clearly has real leadership qualities:

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Thursday Morning

Thu, 10/23/2014 - 06:21

H/t Toronto Star

The events of yesterday were undeniably tragic. A young man, Nathan Cirillo, died. As I noticed on a Facebook posting by my cousin's wife, Nathan was a friend of their son with whom he played organized hockey. Six degrees of separation and all that, I guess.

Nonetheless, I have to confess that when I heard the news on CBC radio, my first thoughts were twofold: how these events could work to Harper's electoral advantage (I could immediately envisage the attack ads juxtaposing Harper's "strong leadership and stand against terrorism" against Trudeau's talk about searching for the "root causes" of terrorism), and how this could very well provide a pretext for further erosion of our civil liberties. Like frightened mice, many people aid and abet anyone or anything to ensure the comforting illusion of security.

Fortunately, I found a measure of balance in two Star columnists this morning, Martin Regg Cohn and Thomas Walkom.

Cohn's words bring some much-needed perspective to terrorism:
For terrorists, killing people is merely a means to an end. By far the bigger objective for terrorists is to terrorize — not just their immediate victims, but an entire population.

A soldier lost his life Wednesday. And parliamentarians lost their innocence.

But the nation must not lose its nerve.

Public shootouts or bombings are carefully choreographed publicity stunts that require audience participation to succeed: If the public gives in to fear, and the state succumbs to hysteria, then the shootings or bombings have hit their mark. If the audience tunes out the sickening violence, the tragic melodrama is reduced to pointlessness.
And he quickly gets to what, for me, is the heart of the matter:
The risk is that we will overreact with security clampdowns and lockdowns that are difficult to roll back when the threat subsides.

Terrorists will never be an existential threat — our Parliament and our parliamentarians are too deeply rooted to crumble in the face of a few bullets or bombs. The greater risk is that we will hunker down with over-the-top security precautions that pose a more insidious menace to our open society.
Thomas Walkom, while acknowledging that events such as yesterday's have a very unsettling effect, reminds us that Canada is not exactly in virgin territory here:
In 1966, a Toronto man blew himself up in a washroom just outside the Commons chamber. He had been preparing to take out the entire government front bench with dynamite. But it exploded too early.

Other legislatures have had their share of trouble, most notably Quebec’s national assembly, which was attacked in 1984 by a disgruntled Canadian Forces corporal.

He shot and killed three as well as wounding another 13 before giving himself up.

In 1988, another man was shot after he opened fire with a rifle in the Alberta Legislature building.And no one who is of a certain age can ever forget the FLQ crisis of 1970 which led to Pierre Trudeau imposing The War Measures Act, which effectively suspended civil liberties across the country, a measure that was widely embraced at the time.

Walkom ends his piece on an appropriately ominous note:
We seem headed for another of those moments of panic. The fact that the gunman attacked Parliament has, understandably, spooked the MPs who pass our laws.

It has also spooked the media and, I suspect, much of the country.

The government wants to give its security agencies more power over citizens. The government wants to rally public support for its war in Iraq.

On both counts, this attack can only help it along.If we are not very careful and vigilant, the real threat will come, not from terrorist attacks, but from our putative political leaders.

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Reactions To Michael Harris' Book On Harper

Wed, 10/22/2014 - 05:22


Star readers weigh in with their usual perspicacity as they reflect on the message of Michael Harris' new book, Party of One: Stephen Harper and Canada’s Radical Makeover, discussed previously in this blog:

Is there a despot in the House? Insight Oct. 19

As journalist Michael Harris’ book points out, Canada has already undergone a sea change under Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s secretive, dominant rule. Soon the attack ads will try to convince us that we would be mad to trust anyone other than Harper’s steady hand at the tiller.

That he is leading us straight over a waterfall, especially in areas like climate change and biological sciences denial (think of the need for research in non-petroleum areas such as water pollution or the collapse of bee colonies) doesn’t concern us nearly enough.

Nor did Harper ever ask us if we wanted a 100-fold increase across the country in hazard fuel shipments, or, for that matter, American-style gun control. He just patiently escalated the former and whittled away at the latter.

The twin tragedies of Lac-Meganic and Moncton will be as much a part of his legacy as his accidental tightfistedness with expenditure. I say accidental, because he was intending to blow the wad on 65 F-35s and indenture us to American arms maker, Lockheed Martin.

Could it be that the Republican-style fear tactics used by these Tories will scare us off for voting for progressives at both the national and municipal level?

Ron Charach, Toronto

This book brings to mind the story: if a frog is placed in boiling water it will immediately jump out; but if it is placed in cool water and the heat slowly raised, the frog will sit there and die as it cooks.

This book brings to our attention that we Canadians are that frog and that the temperature of the water is rising. It is time to jump.

David Kister, Toronto

The Harper government’s narrow political agenda acts like a deaf, dumb and blind juggernaut ruthlessly wielding its power as if we Canadians and our democratic parliamentary system of governance are simply obstacles to be overcome.

Under Mr. Harper’s leadership we have witnessed the relentless erosion of our democracy, of our civil rights, our cherished reputation for fair and open elections, our influence as leaders on the world stage and most insidious of all, our belief in ourselves as citizens and the efficacy of civil participation.

His aggressive brand of partisanship ominously appears to have no bounds, nor his willingness to constrain or silence those not in agreement with his policies or initiatives. At risk are the institutions and values that are the very heart of who we are as a nation.

We cannot be side-tracked by our political differences or our disgust with politicians behaving badly or even fear of reprisal. Our silence is the Harper government’s greatest ally.

June Osborne, Camrose, Alta.Recommend this Post

Another Group Shames Harper

Tue, 10/21/2014 - 13:36

It is to be hoped that the closer we move to next year's election, more and more Canadians will be wagging their fingers at Stephen Harper for his various acts of destruction in this country. For now, let's enjoy the fact that this group is doing it for us:
An organization known for its efforts to improve scientific integrity within the U.S. government is taking aim at Prime Minister Stephen Harper over policies and funding cuts that it says are detrimental to Canadian public science.

In an open letter released Tuesday, the Union of Concerned Scientists urged Mr. Harper to lift a communications protocol that prevents federal researchers from speaking with journalists without approval from Ottawa. The letter also refers to barriers that it says inhibit collaboration with colleagues in the broader scientific community.The letter, signed by over 800 academic researchers working outside of Canada,
was released jointly with the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC), the union that represents more than 15,000 scientists employed within a range of government departments and agencies. It includes a reference to a PIPSC survey, conducted in 2013, which found that 90 per cent of more than 4,000 of the federal scientists who responded felt they could not speak freely about their work.Dennis Hansell, chairman of the Department of Ocean Sciences at the University of Miami and one of the signatories, said:
“As a global scientist I need Canadians to be involved so I can get my work done too. If there’s any threat to that, that’s a problem,” said Dr. Hansell, who is in the midst of proposing a project in the Arctic that would require the co-ordination of U.S., German and Canadian research teams.Much of the world seems aware of the autocracy and fear that exists in Canada. Let's hope that sufficient numbers of Canadian voters will soon become similarly enlightened.
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Harper Regimed Deservedly Mocked and Disdained In House

Tue, 10/21/2014 - 06:05
I often marvel at the ability of the Prime Minister and his minions to keep a straight face as they baldly lie to all of us. At least those lies came in for some much deserved mockery yesterday in the House of Commons:

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Another Reminder Of The Regime Under Which We Chafe

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 14:53


I hope none of us forgets this, just one small part of the Harper programme to promote ignorance, stifle informed discussion, and ravage the environment.Recommend this Post

Let The Sun Shine

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 08:04


Like the vampires of fiction who cling to the darkness as they carry out their nefarious, life-depleting ravages on their prey, the Harper regime best operates in the dark, away from the light of public scrutiny as it continues to suck the vitality out of our democracy. (Sorry for the lurid metaphor, but it does seem to be dramatically apt.) While it is a topic I have written about many times on this blog, I am sure I'm in good company when I say that only by bringing as many of these deeds into the light do we stand a chance of Canadians rejecting this perversion of government.

To that end, I would like to bring to your attention the following email I received from Democracy Watch, one of several NGO's that work tirelessly to promote the principles of open and accessible government as a way of promoting democratic principles and participation. After reading the missive, I hope you will consider signing the letter it talks about. The link is contained within that letter:



Since 2012, the federal Conservative government has been claiming to have an open government plan. In fact, every independent report has shown more excessive secrecy in the federal government than any time since the so-called Access to Information law passed in 1983.

The law is so weak it really should be called the “Guide to Keeping Government Information Secret” law.

Right now Conservative Cabinet minister Tony Clement is proposing a plan to the international Open Government Partnership that will only make already public information a bit more easily accessible.

This will do nothing to end secrecy that encourages waste, abuses and corruption – the law needs to be strengthened to require more transparency, with stronger enforcement and penalties for anyone who keeps information secret that the public has a right to know!

Please click here to send your letter now calling on the federal Conservatives, and governments across Canada, to make key changes to laws to open up government and make it more accountable to you.

Minister Clement and the Conservatives are only taking comments on their proposed plan for a very limited time – please send your message by next Monday, October 20th.

And please Share this with everyone you know – see more details set out below.

And please help keep this campaign going until these key changes to open up government are won. To donate now, please click here.

All together we can make difference!

Thank you very much for your support,

Duff, Tyler, Brad and Josephine
and all the volunteers across Canada who make Democracy Watch’s successful campaigns possible
Recommend this Post

Just A Reminder About The Regime Under Which We Chafe

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 06:04


In case you missed the story of yet another example of a Harper-led CRA threat against charities that object to the regime's policies of environmental despoliation, you can read about it here, here, or here.Recommend this Post

Michael Harris' New Book

Sun, 10/19/2014 - 08:23


Veteran journalist and current national affairs columnist for iPolitics, Michael Harris, has just had his new book on Stephen Harper published. While the 500-page tome, entitled Party of One: Stephen Harper and Canada’s Radical Makeover, may offer nothing startlingly new to those of us who follow national politics closely, it serves as both a useful reminder of the democratic depredations Harper is responsible for, as well as an alert to those who are so disengaged as to regard him as a benign presence on the political landscape. While few of the latter will likely read the book, I suggest it would be a useful exercise to email the link to this Star article about the book to friends and associates who might fall into that category.

Some pretty impressive people offer solid testimony against the kind of 'regime change' that has been instituted under the Harper cabal. One of them is Farley Mowat who, in the last months of his life, said this to Harris:
“Stephen Harper is probably the most dangerous human being ever elevated to power in Canada”.

“We took Parliament for granted, but, like the environment, it turns out that it is an incredibly delicate and fragile structure. Harper has smothered MPs and is destroying Parliament.”Jim Coyle, the article's writer, points out that Michael Harris has always been drawn to stories of injustice and abuse of power. It is precisely what he found in researching Harper's reign:
“A lot of the things that (Harper) was doing struck me as not only unjust but unjustifiable.

“In doing the research I found I was not the only person who thought so, and people a lot smarter and more involved in the system understood the nature of the threat that he presents.”Says former Commons Speaker Peter Milliken:
“Parliament can hardly be weakened any more than it already is. Harper can’t go much further without making the institution dysfunctional. He is trying to control every aspect of House business. In fact, it will have to be returned to its former state by someone if we are to have a democracy.”Powerful and damning words from a respected parliamentarian.

Another devastating indictment comes from veteran diplomat Paul Heinbecker, a former ambassador to Germany:
“Canada’s diplomacy is hugely different under Harper”. “It is a reversal of our history.

“We have become outliers. We are seen as more American than the Americans, more Israeli than Likud. Given what our foreign policy has become, I would not have joined the service today if I were a young man.”Former information commissioner Robert Marleau joins in on the condemnation of Harper's contempt for anyone or anything that disagrees with him:
[W]hen his government was found in contempt (of Parliament), Harper treated it like a minor, partisan irritation. Parliament is now a minor process obstacle.

“Canadians are sleepwalking through dramatic social, economic and political changes surreptitiously being implemented by a government abusing omnibus bills and stifling public and parliamentary debate”.

“Mr. Harper has not played within the rules. Having attained absolute power, he has absolutely abused that power to the maximum.”
All and all, Harris' insights appear to be ones that we have an obligation to share with less-informed and less-engaged Canadians.

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With An Eye To The Future

Sat, 10/18/2014 - 06:42


It is to state the obvious that all progressives long for the day that the Harper regime is ousted from office. What is not so obvious, however, is what shape our country will take once that happens.

There are those who place their faith in Justin Trudeau. Others look with hope to Thomas Mulcair. And then there are others who see little to cheer about in the leadership or politics of either.

The other day The Mound of Sound, who falls into the latter category, wrote a post on leadership, concluding with the following observation:
The thin gruel served up today is a bowl filled with petty technocrats that come in varying flavours of authoritarianism. It's a bland and self-serving offering, devoid of vision, courage and commitment. I fear he is all too correct in his assessment, one that is intimated by Thomas Walkon in today's Star. Entitled Stephen Harper’s legacy fated to endure, Walkom offers the proposition that it is far from certain that the dramatic changes Harper has made during his tenure will be undone by a government led by either the NDP or the Liberals:
True, both the Liberals and the NDP expressed outrage when Canada Post announced its plans [to cut home delivery] last December.

True also that, after a rancorous debate in the Commons, both voted against these plans.

The New Democrats sponsored a cross-Canada petition to oppose the cuts. Alexandre Boulerice, the party’s critic for Canada Post, continues to raise occasional questions in the Commons.

But Canada Post is plowing ahead with plans to eliminate home delivery for almost 1.3 million households by the time of next year’s election.

And neither Mulcair nor Trudeau is promising to reverse that decision if the Conservatives are defeated.On Harper's tax cuts:
They won’t touch them.

Mulcair would raise corporate taxes. However, he says an NDP government would not reverse any of the personal income tax cuts Harper has introduced.

Trudeau says his Liberals wouldn’t reverse any tax cuts at all — personal or corporate.

Both parties slammed Harper for cutting the GST. Yet, if elected, neither would raise it back to its previous level.Walkom point out the further damage Harper could do before he is tossed from the political arena:
Harper may be able to torpedo his rivals’ pre-election spending plans simply by giving away, in the form of tax cuts, all of Ottawa’s expected multi-billion dollar surplus.

The result? Even if Harper loses the next election, much of his legacy seems fated to remain.Such is the timidity of today's political 'leadership' that I fear both the Mound's assessment and Walkom's predictions are all too accurate.Recommend this Post

The Dangers Are Only Too Apparent And Predictable

Fri, 10/17/2014 - 11:51


I was taking a bit of a break from blogging today when this came up, a sobering object lesson in the environmental disasters that we flirt with on the West Coast:
A 135-metre container ship laden with bunker and diesel fuel is adrift off the west coast of Haida Gwaii, the Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Victoria is reporting.

The Russian container ship Simushir is about 25 kilometres off Tasu Sound, according to the centre.The Council of Haida Nations has issued an emergency alert in case the ship makes landfall, in part because the ship is reportedly carrying 500 tonnes of bunker fuel and 60 tonnes of diesel.Recommend this Post

We All have To Stand Against This Blatant Reign Of Intimidation And Tyranny

Thu, 10/16/2014 - 15:00



Although I have written many posts on this topic, each new incident once again evokes in me a visceral reponse bordering upon hatred for this government. The Harper regime is back at it again, using the CRA to intimidate people who are critical of its policies or in any way impede the flow of oil progress.

This time, the victims are birdwatchers, yes, that's right, birdwatchers - The Kitchener-Waterloo Field Naturalists.

CBC reports the following:
The Kitchener-Waterloo Field Naturalists, a registered charity, is apparently at risk of breaking tax agency rules that limit so-called political or partisan activities.

Earlier this year, tax auditors sent a letter to the 300-member group, warning about political material on the group's website.

The stern missive says the group must take appropriate action as necessary "including refraining from undertaking any partisan activities," with the ominous warning that "this letter does not preclude any future audits."It appears that the Harper-directed CRA has accomplished its goal, at least in part, inasmuch as officials of the group, whose revenues amount to a mere $16,000 per annum, are refusing comment, less they attract even more wrath.

But not everyone has succumbed to intimidation:
Longtime member Roger Suffling is speaking up, saying the issue is about democratic freedom and not about arcane tax rules.

Effectively, they've put a gag on us," he said in an interview, noting that the letter arrived just after the club had written directly to two federal cabinet ministers to complain about government-approved chemicals that damage bee colonies.

"You can piece together the timing," said Suffling, an adjunct professor at the University of Waterloo. "The two things are very concurrent."The other 'sin' of this group, it would appear, is the fact that it
has also had a guest speaker to talk about the oilsands, and has publicly defended the Endangered Species Act from being watered down.Of course, the usual suspects, who I do not believe for a minute, deny any political direction or purpose:
Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq's office ... denies there's any link, saying the agency operates independently.

Canada Revenue Agency officials say they do not target any one charitable sector, and are choosing groups impartially, without input from the minister's office.

The decision to launch an audit is also not based on any group’s position on the political spectrum, charities directorate chief Cathy Hawara has said.Those denials might work with gullible children, but not thinking adults.

I grow weary of the totalitarian tactics of this regime. I hope my fellow Canadian feel the same.Recommend this Post

The Folly of Harper's Economic Emphasis

Thu, 10/16/2014 - 09:20


While no reasonable person would suggest that Canada should immediately turn its back on it resources, the folly of self-described economist Stephen Harper is the undue weighting his regime has placed on that sector for fiscal health. Other countries have been looking toward the day when our dependence on fossil fuels will be diminished and are therefore diversifying, and a strong case can be made for the economic benefits of renewable and other green energy projects. However, our Prime Minister has continued in a full-court press as if the Alberta tarsands were the only game in town.

The folly of that approach now becomes evident with the precipitous decline in oil prices, largely due to a slowdown in growth worldwide that, ironically, may very well be the key to curbing climate change. However, even if this a temporary blip, the warning should be heeded.

An analysis by Don Pitt makes for some sobering reading:
About a year ago, I read a report forecasting this would happen. It wasn't exactly top secret, and hardly from a subversive group. Titled, The future of oil: Yesterday's fuel, it was published in the right-of-centre Economist magazine.

The Economist article suggests that this is not going to be just a blip but more of a sea change, as global oil demand plunges permanently. The article quotes a study by Citibank saying that oil use is already falling in rich countries. Most oil is burned to propel vehicles, and increasing fuel efficiency, including conversion to electric and hybrids, means we are using less for that.

It rejects the argument that growth in places like China will push oil use ever higher, saying emerging economies will see the advantage of leap-frogging to new technology and won't pass through the first world's gas-guzzling phase. In the year since that report, an explosion of solar in India, and an analysis by Lazard saying renewables had become as cheap as fossil fuels, only made the case stronger.
The implication for job losses in Canada goes well beyond employment in the oil patch.
“Canada’s economy is now very oil dominated,” economists Rory Johnston and Patricia Mohr at Scotiabank said a few months ago as the Northern Gateway project was being approved by Ottawa.

Businesses based across Canada that feed into the sector, like railroads, engineering firms, construction companies and equipment makers will also be sideswiped if the decline leads energy producers to pull back production. Twenty-five cents of every dollar invested in new business plans goes toward oil and gas projects, Scotia estimates.

If exports and investment in the energy sector take hits, experts suggest the broader economy will feel the chill and begin to slow.It would be nice to think that these hints of things to come would have an impact on the monomania that the Harper regime is seized of. Unfortunately, past ideological performance suggests nothing will change under the current administration.Recommend this Post

Rick's Latest Rant

Wed, 10/15/2014 - 12:52
In his latest, Rick Mercer turns his acerbic wit on the theft of copyright being engineered by the Harper regime to facilitate its campaign of attack ads.

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On Encouraging Political Participation

Wed, 10/15/2014 - 06:11


The other day I wrote a post on John Cruickshank's TED Talk about the low level of political participation among young citizens. His thesis was that as a society, we are losing our news-reading and news-watching habits thanks to the myriad options offered by our current technologies. Asserting that news reading is a skill, the devolution of that skill has affected our ability to think critically and be civically engaged.

A well-considered letter to The Star, however, argues that without structural changes in our political system, measures to encourage participation will be ineffectual:
Re: What's the big threat to democracy? Distraction, Insight Oct. 11

I read the dissertation by John Cruickshank on the threats to our democracy. Unfortunately, the analysis and subsequent conclusions are flawed.

The real threats to our democracy come not only from a disengaged younger electorate (understandable given the hardships they face relative to older generations in income, housing and equality of opportunity), but rather from a perversion of the existing democratic institutions by our current plutocracy.

Political parties have “gamed” the system to their advantage. Our current body politic is often about demagogues using power seized through campaigns of fear or misinformation to obtain power; with little recourse for voters if perverse and discriminatory policies ensue.

The newly elected representative quickly finds out that they are merely trained seals, told what to say and when, with little chance to have their views fairly considered on important matters.

To just encourage people to vote no matter what is not the answer. I would proffer that an uninformed voter is more dangerous to our electoral system than one who is informed but chooses not to participate. It could be argued that the uninformed who choose to exercise their right to vote are willing participants to the demagoguery that is pervasive.
Merely asking relatively uninformed citizens to go out and vote once every four years in the current antiquated system is not the answer. The answers will begin once we seriously consider measures to not only encourage civic engagement, but with an accompanying corollary of institutional reform.

This will include some type of proportional representation to better reflect the views of all voters, greater use of plebiscites, allowing recall votes, and having party leaders chosen by their caucus to make them more accountable to the members, rather the reverse. The guise of greater voter turnout will not lead us there.

However, if a major political party were to propose such visionary reforms, then we might experience a sea change in civic involvement.

David Dos Santos, MississaugaRecommend this Post

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