Tuesday, June 16, 2015

UPDATED: Going, Going ....

...soon to be gone?

There are many things we take for granted in our lives: our health, our family, our way of life. Sometimes, changes in those and other areas happen so gradually that we really don't notice until it is too late. The state of democracy, both globally and domestically, is one of those things that, over time, has become grievously imperiled, with the vast majority seeming either not to notice or, perhaps even worse, not to care.

A newspaper report from a few days ago serves as an international illustration. In India, Greenpeace and a multitude of
other NGOs and charities — environmental and other — have been under the government radar since last June, when the Intelligence Bureau leaked a report accusing several foreign-funded NGOs of stalling infrastructure projects.

The government has also restricted direct transfers of foreign donations.
The language of an intelligence report on these organizations is chilling:
The report named several activists and organizations but singled out Greenpeace as a “threat to national economic security.” The report also said the global organization was using its “exponential” growth in terms of “reach, impact, volunteers and media influence” to create obstacles in India’s energy plans.

Since then, Greenpeace India’s offices have undergone inspections, its bank accounts have been frozen and at least three staffers, including Pillai, have been refused permission to either enter or leave India.
The parallels with what is happening at home should be obvious. There is, of course, the Harper use of the CRA to intimidate organizations that are critical of government policies. There is his widely reported muzzling of scientists. And then there are the very worrisome provisions of Bill C-51 that could be used to criminalize dissent. These are just three examples of the tip of a very large iceberg.

Today's Globe and Mail tells us that a a 66-page report is being issued today that should be of great interest to all Canadians:
The report is being released under the banner of Voices-Voix and its signatories include the heads of Amnesty International Canada, Greenpeace Canada and the former head of Oxfam Canada.

The coalition of 200 organizations and 500 individuals accuses the government of taking away funding or otherwise intimidating organizations that it disagrees with.

It accuses the government of muzzling scientists and public servants and portraying First Nations and aboriginal groups as threats to national security.
The implications for democracy are deeply troubling:
...the government is silencing the public policy debate on important issues.

“We have borne witness to hundreds of cases in which individuals, organizations and institutions have been intimidated, defunded, shut down or vilified by the federal government,” the report states.

The report accuses the government of targeting dozens of charities that it deems “too political” for its taste.

It also says the government has undermined the function of Justice Department lawyers by discouraging them from giving important advice to the government.

And it points to the “muzzling” of several government watchdog agencies, citing the sacking of senior leadership at the Canadian Wheat Board and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.

It also accuses the government of undermining the work of the military ombudsman, the Commission for Public Complaints against the RCMP, the federal commissioner of the environment and the correctional services investigator.

The report says the government has mounted an attack on “evidence-based” policy-making and cites Statistics Canada, which has undergone an 18 per cent staff reduction and $30-million in budget cuts since 2012.

It also takes the government to task for doing away with the long-form census.

“Canadians deserve a vibrant and dynamic democracy and they are capable of building that together,” the report concludes.
The report ends with what is ultimately the ideal of which the Harper regime is the antithesis:
“It is the job of government to support those engaged in this task, not undercut and destroy their striving for a better and more inclusive democracy.”
If this does not move Canadians, perhaps we are beyond saving.

UPDATE: You can access the full report by going to this website.

As well, environmentalist Paul Watson has not been able to return to Canada since his Canadian passport was seized in Germany in 2012 and turned over to the Canadian embassy in Frankfurt. Canada has refused to return it to him, and Watson believes the decision was driven by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper's dislike of environmentalists.

And ThinkingManNeil has provided this link to Paul Watson's story on the outrage.


  1. Having just read that report, Lorne, I can say that is a must read for all Canadians that are at all concerned for our democracy, or for those who say that "there is no problem'. It specifically details Harper's action over a number of year to suppress both the 'watchdog' role of various parliamentary appointees, the NGO's and the access to information necessary for Canadians to make an informed decision come election time.
    I voters can read this and still vote for the Harper Regime then all is lost!.

    1. Things are very dark in our country, aren't they, Rural? I am glad that this and other information about Harper's autocratic practices is now making the news; I can only hope the stories and reports are widely read and have a real impact on the way Canadians perceive this hateful 'leader.'

    2. Apparently Reichsfuhrer Harper removed Mr. Watson's passport at the behest of our Glorious Leader's fellow fascists in Japan...


    3. Thanks for the link, Neil, a powerful indictment of the man who is taking apart all of what Canada stands for. I'll add it to the main body of this post.