Saturday, August 4, 2012

Harper's Parody of Democracy

Yesterday, I wrote a post expressing cynicism about Heritage Minister James Moore's tough talk concerning Enbridge, expressing the view that it was just more political posturing on the part of Harper Inc. since the company has come under much media scrutiny due to its record of oil spills.

Reading another story today about the time limits and restrictions placed on the NEB hearings into the pipeline, and the fact that it will be the Harper regime that makes the final determination about the pipeline, made me think back to my teaching days.

I always regarded school committee with disdain, and rarely sat on them, since they were generally gatherings characterized by a lot of talk and a paucity of action. On a few occasions I broke my embargo, each time coming away from the experience realizing I had thrown away many hours of my life for nought.

The very last time I sat on one (and I forget what it was for), the end result was that the principal entirely ignored our recommendations, imposing the decisions that he had hoped we would recommend.

Why even go through a charade of democratic participation when the end result is preordained, and the role of the committee is only to lend the air of legitimacy to the autocrat?

That is precisely what I believe is going to happen with the NEB hearings - after all of the applicants are heard, and thousands of hours of testimony are given, no matter the recommendation, the pipeline will go ahead. The best indicator of the future is found, of course, in this little nugget:

The government [has] formalized new rules that for the first time give the Harper cabinet the final word on whether the pipeline should go ahead, even if the arms-length NEB-led panel concludes the project is environmentally unsound.

Were the hearings anything but an empty public-relations exercise, would such a stipulation exist?

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