Dr. Dawg

Taking the "mock" out of Canadian democracy

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Harper feudal.jpg

You can feel Globe and Mail journo Gary Mason’s relief as he turns from the amorphous #Occupy movement, which he frankly didn’t get, to more familiar ground: youth involvement in mainstream politics.

I’m with him, of course, on leadnow.ca: it’s one effective front among many, with some stellar players. But it’s not the only game in town, and, by itself, it can’t really challenge the system. Rather, it embraces it: voting, lobbying, education, advocacy—transformation from within.

Here’s part of what leadnow.ca is up against, courtesy of a commenter on the Mason article:

Population of Canada: 34,278,406

Canadians who voted in the 2011 election: 14,720,580 [this is a turnout of 61.1% of those eligible to vote —DD]

Canadians who voted for Harper in the 2011 election: 5,832,401

Canadians who voted against Harper in the 2011 election: 8,888,179

Our system gave Harper a majority of the seats in Parliament, in case anyone needs reminding: he and his ministers honk on nearly every day about their alleged “mandate” from less than a quarter of eligible electors. Whatever that system might be called, the term “democratic” doesn’t apply, if by “democratic” we mean governed by the majority will.

No wonder well over a third of the electors don’t even bother voting. And when the others have picked a name off a piece of paper that others have selected for them, and the polls close, they will have no meaningful say in what goes on for the next four years.

I’m not opposed to voting, but it’s the least part of genuine democracy. Even there, of course, the Conservatives are learning from their far-right American cousins: trying to steal ballot boxes, engaging in voter suppression (aided and abetted by a thoroughly cowed Elections Canada), using our national police farce as a private army to eject kids from pre-election rallies and so on.

More seriously, the Harper government has ripped the fragile fabric of Parliamentary tradition to shreds, with flagrant contempt of the House of Commons, prorogation, and routine closure motions (an unprecedented six in 33 days in this session) that have rendered the notion of responsible government a dead letter.

We now have, in effect, a one-party state and rule by decree, and we’ll have it for several more years. The Opposition has essentially been shut down, not permitted more than perfunctory comments during the committee stage of vitally important bills. Senior public servants have apparently been ordered to lie when they are not simply muzzled. Accountability of any kind has become a bad joke.

Against this accelerating slide into dictatorship (the seeds of which were planted by Pierre Trudeau and nurtured by Jean Chr├ętien), pushing the distant prospect of a better voting system seems laughably inadequate, and issue advocacy, no matter how informed and articulate, just doesn’t work when those in power have their fingers in their ears.

The pre-Enlightenment regime of Stephen Harper, an appalling collection of flat-earthers, theocrats, fawning courtiers, bravos, spies, and witch-hunters, requires everyday acts of resistance. The Canadian #Occupy movement, which I predict will bloom again in the Spring, has been one manifestation: there will be others, many of which will surprise and delight us, and, more importantly, include and encourage us.

Same old, same old isn’t necessarily bad: we don’t have to start from scratch here. But the last place to look for new ideas is in the corporate media, and young activists know this in the bone. Thanks, Gary, but the revolution won’t be patronized.

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This page contains a single entry by Dr. Dawg published on November 26, 2011 12:26 PM.

Economics for Dummies was the previous entry in this blog.

Our national police farce on the job is the next entry in this blog.

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