Sunday, January 11, 2015

More Than Rhetorical Questions

In today's Star, Bob Hepburn has a piece that should be read by anyone who needs a brief refresher course in some of the more egregious attacks against democracy perpetrated by Stephen Harper. I offer only a short overview of the article here, as I hope everyone will read the original in its entirety:
Since he became prime minister in 2006, Harper has displayed a stunning disrespect for democracy in Canada, either approving or turning a blind eye to decisions that have undermined our democratic traditions and institutions and our faith in democracy.
Over the years, Harper has taken advantage of Canadians’ waning interest in federal politics to implement his anti-democratic initiatives and to run roughshod over Parliament and campaign rules and practices.
Hepburn then goes on to pose a series of questions that are far from rhetorical:
How does Harper get away with dismantling the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development, which promoted democracy and human rights around the world for 24 years?

How does Harper get away with cutting funding for organizations such as Kairos, a coalition of church groups that advocated for human rights?

How does Harper get away with introducing a fair elections act that was so unfair it should rightly have been called the anti-democratic elections act?

How does Harper get away with slapping gag orders on public servants and scientists, preventing them from speaking to the public?

How does Harper get away with letting cabinet ministers restrict freedom of speech and information tenets, withhold and alter documents, and launch personal attacks on whistleblowers?

How does Harper get away with slamming the chief electoral officer for doing his job?
And those are just a few of the reminders Hepburn provides us with.
He ends with these sobering observations:
While some pro-democracy groups have raised alarms in the past about Harper, most Canadians have just shrugged their shoulders, albeit in disgust. They are disengaged, discouraged by government scandals and believe politicians don’t listen to them and aren’t interested in the issues that are important to them.

But Canadians cannot take democracy for granted.

During the next 10 months leading up to the October election, voters can let Harper and other politicians know they they’ve had enough.

For all Canadians, the stakes are huge. That’s because this election may be the last real chance for years ahead to restore faith in our democracy.
So, my friends, read, weep, and then disseminate Hepburn's information widely.

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