Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A Nice Compendium Of Recent Harper Offences Against Democracy

I am preparing to resume work on my flooring, so, in lieu of my own piece, I am posting a letter from the London Community News that offers some thoughts on the 'Fair' Elections Act and other Harper government misdeeds:

Dear editor,

Much noise has been made about what the Conservatives’ euphemistically call the “fair elections act” currently being tabled in the House of Commons. CBC personality Rick Mercer announced that if the bill passes then Canada would forfeit our title as one of the world’s greatest democracies.

Mercer’s televised rant focused on the aspect of the bill that makes it illegal for Elections Canada to encourage young people to get out and vote. Some other controversial aspects of the bill include raising the limits of election donations, eliminating the practice of vouching for people without proper identification at voting stations and allowing polling supervisors to be appointed by the riding’s incumbent candidate or the candidate’s party.

Perhaps even more concerning should be Canada’s Chief Elections Officer Mark Maryland’s response that the bill as an affront to democracy.

The fair elections act, however, is just the latest in a consistent series of attacks originating from Stephen Harper’s Conservative government against the concept of a rich, competitive Canadian democratic system.

One of the first policies implemented by Harper, when he won his majority government in 2011, was to remove a $2 per vote subsidy for political parties. Between this policy change, and raising election donation limits, Harper has made it much easier for money to corrupt Canada’s democratic process.

After all, a party’s election spending budget should reflect the number of their supporters, rather than the size of the pocket books of their constituency, right?

Interestingly, Conservatives won almost 54 percent of the seats in Parliament, a majority, with less than 40 percent of voting Canadians supporting their party.

Also interesting to note is that, of the five parties who hold seats in Parliament, the Conservatives are the only party opposed to reforming our democratic system so that our elected government better reflects the popular vote. All the other parties favour some sort of proportional representation system over the deeply flawed first-past-the-post system we currently use.

For those of us who do not support the most popular candidate in our ridings, showing up to the polls on Election Day is futile. Because of the first-past-the-post electoral system we have, and the elimination of the $2 per vote subsidy, voting for a losing candidate in a riding is essentially inconsequential.

Since it is meaningless to vote for a candidate who does not win, this makes it more difficult for smaller parties to gain enough momentum to break into the scene and compete.

A central tenet of Conservative ideology is that economic competition helps improve the services that businesses offer society and, in turn, free market systems help improve society in general. Imagine what would happen to the Canadian economy if it was not possible for new, smaller companies to compete against the status quo.

So, it should be clear to Conservatives their policies on democratic reform inhibit political competition and, as a result, discourage a strong culture of democracy in this country. Indeed, the robocall scandal, conducted by Conservative Party staffers, was an explicit and illegal effort to discourage non-Conservatives from showing up to the polls.

It should come as no surprise then that the Conservatives have introduced the fair elections act that prevents Elections Canada from encouraging key voting blocks from coming out to vote.

The seemingly endless list of infractions against our democratic infrastructure committed by the Harper Conservatives also includes: unprecedented omnibus bills and other strategies to discourage debate in the house and senate, silencing scientists and suppressing information, criminalizing masks at protests and spying on activists, and a meticulously whipped cabinet.

Some downplay these controversial tactics as a winning strategy implemented by one of the most talented and calculating political leaders ever to represent the right wing of the political spectrum.

However, undermining and weakening the democratic system is a threat to all members of Canadian society no matter what political values we hold. This steady assault on the democratic process makes it difficult for all Canadians to influence the future of this nation.

With only roughly 60 percent of eligible voters showing up to the polls during our federal elections, Canadian democracy is on life support.

Many Canadians openly admit to being ignorant or apathetic about Canadian politics. Some say they are too busy. Others say that there’s nothing we can do to change things for the better and so become complacent.

When we reflect on our sad state of affairs, we should keep in mind that our democratic rights would not exist if Canadian soldiers had not defeated fascism alongside our military allies during the Second World War.

Second World War veterans dodged bullets and bombs and sacrificed limbs and life to protect a free and open Canadian democratic system. Try telling a veteran you don’t have time or don’t see a solution to this erosion of Canadian democracy. If we allow politicians to degrade Canada’s democratic infrastructure, it is an insult to their sacrifice, and an act of self-destruction.

We must become engaged in the democratic process.

Dante Ryel, London Connect event organizer


  1. Wonderful letter.

    1. Agreed, Anon. Let's spread it as widely as possibly.

  2. .. don't wear a poppy .. turn your back or raise your fist.. or your voice..
    when confronted by hypocrisy.. obvious deceit, cowardice & secretive government.. Find your own individual and special way to honor our heroes and exemplars and make it blinding clear how you treasure the courage, sacrifice..
    the gift they gave all of us

    Stand tall.. bold .. feet planted deep in the soil of this fair land
    let your heart glow .. and your outraged voices grow ..

    Plan a dinner for family or friends.. invite our veterans
    & honor those who helped make it possible..
    Hoist a mighty toast to our warriors, immigrants, ancestors
    our amazing hosts, the First Nations, our forests, streams and shores
    the bounty of this land, the invisible winds, the mighty storms
    the incredible creatures who embody this land

    On a scale of 1 to 1 million where does any Canadian rate S Harper
    or one of his minions.. vs one of ours who went to Vimy Ridge ?
    Lived among the deer, rode a rocket into outer space,
    discovered The Northwest Passage? Ascended to The Plains of Abraham,
    survived the Red River floods? Paddled canoes, built our homes

    Where is the courage of Terry Fox or Ann Harvey to be found within Parliament?
    In Calandra and his pizza? Del Mastro and his bluster? Baird on Israel? Butt?

    The diseased tail of a rabid political construct now directs policy to a nation..
    and Canadians, and proclaims its shrill values are our Canadian Values..

    Excuse me Mr Harper .. you found your ascendancy in a box of cereal?
    Or a sandbox.. ? Got it from Tom Flanagan conniving with you?

    You find yourself in the wrong country Mr Stephen Harper .. nice try dickhead
    We don't support your Queen.. whomever she or he may be..

    Your quaint fake grasp on our national game.. is limp and lame
    its played with contact and a ball.. lacrosse sticks, stout hearts.. brave hearts
    none of which you or your porky pollster crowd could ever grasp

    Since you can't recognize Canada or Canadians ..
    exactly what do you see in the mirror ?
    Some sort of 3rd world Euro reject poseur descendant sociopath ?
    Or worse.. .. ?

    Its becoming quite evident, that what you see in the mirror
    is exactly what you contribute to Canada & Canadians .. disaster
    and that you've discovered approx 2,000 to 5,000 dim folk failures
    that think you're a genius.. or savior .. or rapture prophet savant

    I know of at least 10 crappy bands with larger followings
    disco, tribute, thrash.. or gospel ... or drone rant
    but none of them pretend to speak for a country called Canada

    1. As always, Salamander, your commentary is incisive. I am going to post this separately, once again, so more will have the opportunity to read it. Thank you for your ongoing contributions to the national discussion and to this blog.

  3. 'allowing polling supervisors to be appointed by the riding’s incumbent candidate or the candidate’s party.' If this is seriously within the exact reading of the 'proposed' Harper governments Bill, surprised that this hasn't been given some very serious public discussion - are the MSM investigative reporters failing to catch this blatant autocratic attempt to subvert any reasonable accommodation to truly fair electoral practices within our democracy? Simply amazing!

    1. I believe this issue was brought up recently by Evan Solomon when he talked to Pierre Poilievre. The latter rather facilely dismissed the concern, saying that each party has its own scrutineer at polling stations anyway. Here is a link that explores the issue further, Rural. I think you will find that the oily Poilievre is taking 'liberties' with the truth, as usual: