Monday, June 4, 2012

The Haunting Threats To Democracy

Being a rather fitful sleeper at the best of times, I often awake throughout the night, the sole advantage of this affliction being the ability to recall a large number of my dreams. Last night was one such night.

In the dream, while I lived in an apparently normal environment, each time that I tried to express my opinion or move freely about, some force came out of the background to stop me, leading me to realize that my freedom was illusory.

While this dream actually did occur and is not a writer's artifice to lead into his theme, its central metaphor was obvious to me upon awakening. We live in a time when our democratic freedoms are being eroded, along with the values and supports that Canadians have long held dear. And yet, if we do not scratch beneath the surface, everything appears to be reasonably normal. It is only upon closer scrutiny or action that we begin to detect the stench coming from the hidden rot.

I guess it was something I was thinking about the other day during the demonstration at David Sweet's office. A young couple was in attendance; they told those of us who were taking pictures that they didn't want theirs posted on the Internet, the specific reasons for which I will not reveal except to say fear of government reprisal.

I suspect there is much such fear in this country today, and with very good reason. The Harper government, in its relentless drive to remake Canada in its stunted image, is well-known for its vindictiveness against groups who oppose its agenda, currently investigating, for example, the charitable status of those groups who oppose the regime's campaign of environmental despoliation. If there is a government equivalent to libel chill, this is it, although a more apt description is abuse of government power to stifle our Charter right of freedom of expression.

I was watching a documentary recently from a series called Earth From Above. In it, an activist who has worked hard to stop the building of dams on the Loire River in France makes this statement: "If you do not use democracy, it will wither."

I can only hope that this truth will dawn upon more and more people as they contemplate joining some of the planned future demonstrations against the Harper agenda.

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