Democracy

“Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber.” Plato

I watched Mr. Harper last week give his speech about the Senate scandal. Besides not providing any viable explanations in his prepared statement, the man sat with that arrogant smile pasted on his face, his lips pursed, and refused to answer any questions. And when journalists persisted, his cabinet ministers rather than advising him to respond to the issues of concern to Canadians protected him and then threw journalists (who were invited by the Prime Minister to this soiree) out of the room. I know journalists can be a bloodthirsty bunch when tracking a salacious story. I don’t condone such behaviour either. But this time journalists simply asked the questions we citizens would have asked.

And why wouldn’t the Prime Minister understand that we would want to know what went wrong in the Senate. As citizens of this country don’t we have a right to know how our tax dollars are being spent? Who does he think he is that he feels he doesn’t have to address our concerns? I have voted in every single municipal, provincial and federal election since I turned 18 because I live in a country where I have the right to do so and because I want to stop politicians like Mr. Harper who allow power to go to their heads and feel justified in flouting democracy at every turn.

Since the Conservatives took office, corruption and back room deals have been uncovered with few if any explanations and certainly no apologizes on the part of the government. Think of the Afghani–detainee situation, the F35s, the change to immigration policies to favour Europeans rather than other immigrants and take away the right for refuges to appeal rulings, the changes to the Criminal Code, the money spent in conservative ridings during the G7 meetings, the appointment of Conservative leaning senators who then use their positions to campaign for their party (and some even enjoyed double-dipping by charging expenses to both the Senate and the Conservative Party). And let’s not forget the robo-calls. Just this week the Federal Court passed down it’s ruling on the Council of Canadian electoral challenge. Federal Court judge Richard Mosley upheld the election results in six ridings, but was very critical of the Conservative Party in this matter and concluded that fraud had been involved. Here is only a small sample of what he said in his judgement:

“Despite the obvious public interest in getting to the bottom of the allegations, the CPC (Conservative Party of Canada) made little effort to assist with the investigation at the outset despite early requests. I note that counsel for the CPC was informed while the election was taking place that the calls about polling station changes were improper. While it was begrudgingly conceded during oral argument that what occurred was "absolutely outrageous", the record indicates that the stance taken by the respondent MPs from the outset was to block these proceedings by any means.”

Citizens see this type of corruption by our politicians and say what’s the point; they’re all crooks anyway. Why should I vote? What difference does it make? I personally don’t believe all politicians are crooks. Having worked in the public service, I know individuals who choose public life do so to serve (most of them anyway). But, I also believe there are politicians such as Mr. Harper who are counting on you to think that you have no power to change things, that you are too complacent to even try. They chip away at your rights slowly, methodically in the hopes you won’t notice.

You’ve heard the story of the frog and the boiling water? Basically if you stick the frog in a pot of boiling water, he’ll jump out immediately. On the other hand if you stick him in a pot of lukewarm water and turn up the heat gradually, he won’t notice the change and will eventually be boiled alive. This is what happens if we get too complacent, don’t pay attention, and don’t engage in what is happening in our municipal, provincial and federal politics.

What can you do about it? Vote! Send letters to politicians, sign petitions, read the newspaper (or rather several newspapers to get a good cross section of what is going on), discuss, protest (peaceful), answer surveys, volunteer with a political party or a community group, attend political meetings, be heard. This is your country. Get engaged and make our politicians do their job: serving us, the citizens of Canada.

 

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