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Imperial Democracy

“The best defense against usurpatory government is an assertive citizenry.”

– William F. Buckley, Jr.

“Democracy – while it lasts is more bloody than either aristocracy or monarchy. Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There is never a democracy that did not commit suicide.”

– John Adams


flag_Provinces_2People talk quite a bit about ‘the state’ as if it is somehow separate and apart from us. You see it all the time on social media; people going on and on about ‘the state’ this and ‘the state’ that but what they really mean is the government. Unfortunately, too many in government now see themselves as ‘the state’; something separate and apart from the rest of us.

They aren’t. They are employees.

In any democratic nation, be it parliamentary or republican, the state is the people. It’s really as simple as that. Politicians are elected and bureaucrats are hired to manage our affairs on our behalf. They do not inherit the kingdom from their fathers; they don’t wrest power from another by force nor are they appointed by divine right to rule over us – they are elected and hired by the people to what we, as a democracy, have decided needs doing..

This does not mean it is up to them to decide what is or is not good for us, that is our responsibility. Theirs is to implement the will of the people and that, my friends, would be you and I.

Unfortunately, too many in government have lost sight of that simple premise and now see our state as merely a tool to be used to achieve their own purposes. It is – the Imperial Democracy – an illusion of adherence to democratic principles that attempts to disguise ruling by fiat.

It has more in common with benign monarchies and fascist states than it does with true democracy and it is rampant in Canada.

Consider Quebec Premier Pauline Marois. She is an elected political leader in a major democratic nation who has somehow managed to rationalize that suppressing the language rights of some Quebec citizens in favour of others is not repression or anti-democratic. LaQC flag Reine glibly talks about how welcome her non-francophone citizens are within the province even as the language SS storm the province harassing small businesses over the size of languages other than French on their signs.

She proposes legislation to dictate what language can be spoken in the workplace and which schools can be attended and in what language. She justifies this as an attempt to preserve the French language but if you substitute the phrase ‘French language’ with the phrase ‘white culture’, you see it for what it really is.

Nothing that needs the repression of the rights of others, to protect it, is worth protecting.

English and French are both official languages in Canada  but La Reine couldn’t care less. She isn’t even deterred by Quebec’s own Charter of Rights, all Quebec citizens are equal but in her narrow, imperialistic mind, some are more equal than others.

So intent is the woman on trying to separate Quebec from Canada that she is now contemplating lowering the voting age to 16 in the belief that she can find additional support for her cause by enlisting the aid of inexperienced, ill-informed adolescents.

That, quite frankly, isn’t a respect for democracy; that is its perversion; a manipulation of the system and the principles upon which it is built.

ontario flagIn Ontario, a new Premier has been appointed. I say appointed because she was not elected to the office by the people. Instead, the outgoing Premier, Dalton McGuinty, prorogued the legislature back in September and then announced his resignation pending the outcome of a Liberal Leadership campaign.

In other words, he closed down the people’s house for no other reason than to allow his political party an opportunity to reorganize itself.

It is now the beginning of February and the people’s house has sat empty for almost five months so that the outgoing Premier could anoint a new premier chosen from, and by, his own party. During that time, His Grace Dalton McGunity continued to govern by imperial decree, going so far as to even repeal legislation without vote by the house.

Some have called him Premier Dad. I believe it is more accurate to think of him as a petty Caesar; a consul who unlike in the early days of the Roman Empire, not only didn’t pay lip service to the legislature, he simply ignores it. So used to governing with a majority had he become that when he only had a minority government, he simply shut down the legislature in order to continue to govern without oversight by the people’s elected representatives.

His imperial approach to governing has driven the province into an economic disaster zone plagued by scandals at eHealth, Ornge Air Ambulance, OLG and the closing of power plants in Mississauga; scandals that total more than $5 billion. He has doubled the province’s debt and left his successor with a double digit deficit. He has squandered money on a failed energy program, full-day kindergarten that could have been used to reduce debt and improve health care services.

And when the demands for answers to all of this became too persistent, he simply shut down the legislature and ignored them.

The incoming Premier was a member of the McGuinty Cabinet and she has learned well from his leadership. During her leadership campaign she initially signaled she would probably call an election if she won the leadership but has since changed her mind now that she is premier. She feels no need to confirm a mandate from the people now that she has one from her party colleagues.

She has a willing ally in the leader of the provincial New Democratic Party, Andrea Horvath, who just as she has done previously, will support the new government despite her ongoing criticism of it. She rationalizes this by telling herself and everyone else that despite the anger in the province over the current lack of accountability of the Liberal government, she is supporting it because the people don’t want an election. How very thoughtful of her. The fact that it is also self-serving is a happy coincidence.

In Alberta, Premier Allison Redford and her Conservative government have been accused of a quid pro quo when it comes to fundingalberta flag for her party, with taxpayers providing campaign funding to the Alberta Conservative party through prohibited, publicly funded insstitutions in order to continue to receive government funding for their programs. It is illegal for political parties to accept political funding from public institutions like post-secondary institutions and municipal governments but that didn’t deter the imperial democracy of Alberta.

She has also been accused of Bev Oda Syndrome when it comes to her personal travel expenses and enjoyed an expensive trip to the summer Olympics at taxpayer expense. She is facing further allegations of awarding a billion dollar contract to the law firm in which her ex-husband and campaign manager is a partner while she was in Cabinet and in the best style of Louis XVI, she simply ignores it all. She has a clearly demonstrated lack of concern for what the people think – if they are discontent – let them eat cake.

Premier Redford would do well to remember how well that attitude turned out for Louis and his wife.

And then there is B.C.’s Christie Clark.

bcThe legislature closed for the summer recess in May 2012 and Premier Clark decided that as it really isn’t compatible with her style of governance, she hasn’t bothered to call it back since. It’s just so much easier to rule when you don’t have to answer to the people.

She will be answering soon, however. A provincial election is in the offing and while it hasn’t been called yet, there is every reason to believe that it will be held in late spring. Because legislatures do not sit during election campaigns, it will mean the people’s parliament in British Columbia was closed for the convenience of one particular political party for the better part of a year.

That, my friends, is not democracy or respect for the people’s government. That is arrogance and the erosion of our democratic institutions and democratic principles by the very people who were elected to preserve and protect both.

We are not governed by those who serve but are ruled by those who put themselves ahead of the people and in the eventual manner of all rulers, they are corrupted by their positions – if not legally, certainly by attitude and practice. They breathe the purified air of power and it distracts them from their sworn purpose.

There are examples of this at all levels of government and from all political parties. Our democracy is being eroded by the very people we elect and hire to preserve and maintain it.

In the federal parliament, the political parties conduct themselves like rude spoiled children with no respect for either the people or their house. They have turned this institution of democracy into an arena of meaningless hypocrisy and the conduct is anything but professional. It is petty, self-serving and a disgrace.

Sitting members from all major parties at all levels of government have been charged with funding irregularities, criminal conduct, sued for slander or been forced to apologize for conduct unbecoming of parliament or the legislature in which they sit.

We are overtaxed because our taxes are squandered. We elect people based on campaign promises which are broken almost as soon as they are elected. We see the rights of some suppressed in favour of enhancing the rights of others. Our laws are not enforced uniformly and our courts do not apply consistent penalty for the same crimes across the country.

We are a nation, a federation to be exact, but we are governed like we are nothing more than regal principalities and the princes and princesses squabble among themselves over everything but building a strong and prosperous nation.

flagIndeed, we are not governed; we are ruled by people who do not honour their oaths of office or the integrity of our Constitution, our Charter of Rights and Freedoms or the fundamental principles upon which this democracy is founded.

They have turned it into a cheap game, where winning is more important than serving and gaining and holding power is the only objective.

Billions are squandered buying votes from special interest while people still go hungry in our streets. Our health care system continues to erode and crumble while the nobility engage in absurd territorial disputes and truth is obscured by double talk and verbal slight-of-hand.

Whatever else we may be, we are Canadian and this nation isn’t just ours. It is us!

There is a need – an absolute need – for Canadians of all political ideologies to put aside their differences and political ideologies to defend the principles upon which they believe their democracy is based.

To do less is to allow the process of erosion of our institutions by small imperial democracies that try to rule us rather than govern for us. It isn’t a very large step from eroding democratic governance to the erosion of the fundamental rights guaranteed in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

When the principles of democracy can be safely ignored by a few for their own purposes – so can the rights those principles provide.

It is time for the people to either stand up and take back their democracy by demanding a higher level of integrity in government and respect for the principles upon which it founded – or in the alternative, learn to bow properly while  continuing to tug their forelocks when the princes and princesses enter the room.



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  • Albertan01

    Why do so many insist upon assuming that democracy as defined and practised in the USA is in any way similar to that in Canada or the UK? That quote from John Adams at top is hardly valid for us. I haven’t seen English democracy commit suicide during its gradual evolution from the Magna Carta to today. Canadian history is much shorter but democracy is still alive here. It’s tempting to quote statements from various sources to prove a perceived point but some care should be used for accuracy and pertinence.

    However, sometimes a good rant and the facts are not compatible. That being said, rant on!

    • http://abearsrant.com thebear

      British democracy has a very bloody history from the Magna Carta onwards. Indeed the Magna Carta was the result of a civil war launched against the monarchy and it was only the first. Cromwell fought against and executed Charles I and then ruled as Lord High Protector until his death. Brithis, or English democracy as you call it has not survived peacefully.

      The problem we have today is complacency. We are fat and lazy believing in our sophisticated foolishness that it can’t happen here in this day and age.The people of France fought a revolution to create a democratic republic that was soon replaced by and emperor and then by a restoration of a monarchy before a new democracy was created. Australia changed its democracy from a constitutional monarchy to a republic and some democratic nations in Asia have been suffering through civil wars for years.Nothing, not even a political system, that can be built by human beings exists to the point where it can’t be destroyed by them. All it takes is a level of anger and frustration built on a significant enough disconnect from those in power and those they govern to light the fuse.

      Canada’s democratic principles have been eroded to the point where they are almost meaningless. Some may like to cling to the idea the idea that that means we are just fine but we aren’t. Our governments use the democratic process for no other purpose than to squabble among themselves over who gets the keys to the treasure chest while the rest of us blindly support one party or the other and stand and wait to see how big the next tax increase will be. When it comes, we blame the other party if it was them who lied to us and make excuses for the party we support if was them who lied to us.

      That isn’t democracy. It is the illusion of it.

      • Albertan01

        Cynicism may create the illusion of analysis but it doesn’t change anything. What’s your definition of democracy and how are you going to achieve it for Canada?

        • http://abearsrant.com thebear

          For me, democracy is simply the free and equal participation of all eligible citizens in the self-determination of their nation but your analysis of what I wrote is flawed. I titled the piece Imperial Democracy but what I am challenging is the lack of integrity in politics and the hypocrisy of those who stand for election on the premise that they are prepared to serve but instead intend to rule. There is nothing wrong with our system of government, it is the perversion of it that is the problem.

          When people cast their ballot for something and the majority determine in which direction they want the nation to go, self-serving politicians and their parties should not have the ability to reverse that direction after the election. Democracy is government by the people for the people and that means the people have the right to be wrong as well as to be right. But it also places a fair degree of responsibility on the part of the people to participate and to be informed. It is also a trust relationship in that the people are placing their trust in those they elect to keep their word.

          You may have found my article cynical but I make no apology for it. The facts speak for themselves and we are increasingly being ruled rather than governed and even more worrisome is that many don’t care. They would rather argue semantics than consider the factual reality of what is happening.

  • Albertan01

    I agree with Bear’s comments on the governments and premiers of Quebec, Ontario and BC and I also agree that the AB Redford government has made some dumb moves, but, in fairness, re the funding issue, how can the PC party control what the donors do after the donations have been made. Must they track every donation for months afterward to see if they have been billed to an illegal source, such as a municipality? The onus falls upon the donor, not the recipient, surely. It would depend upon to whom the receipt is made out. If it is to an individual, OK. If to an illegal source, definite no-no and it must be returned. Whack the cheating donors, not the party!

    • http://abearsrant.com thebear

      With all do respect, it under the elections act the party is absolutely responsible for identifying the source of the donation at the time of the donation. In this case, there was no after the fact, they came from municipalities and post-secondary institutions. There was no grey area here. Further, even though they received the money inappropriately, they are wriggling trying to avoid paying it back.

      I’m conservative but I don’t make excuses for the parties that represent my political viewpoint. I hold them to an even higher standard than those I don’t support and if we all don’t start demanding a higher standard of integrity from those we support, we will continue to be ruled rather than governed.

  • Fed up

    BC actually has fixed election dates. Believe the rule is a maximum of four years unless the government calls one sooner. So under these rules, unless an election is called earlier, which is highly unlikely, the next one is on May 14th.

    • http://abearsrant.com thebear

      In that case, it will be just a few days short of a full year since Premier Clark recalled the BC legislature and that, quite simply, is a disgrace.

  • http://grumpyelder.com/ Grumpy

    First of all neither Canada or the US are Democracies- they are republics with Constitutions that if observed define the limitations of Government- When Adams said democracies never last he was correct- eventually Majority rule becomes mob rule, since the mobs are made up of many groups of people all with their own agenda the infighting eventually leads to anarchy- and democracy comes to a violent end… Maybe this video will help http://youtu.be/ROnbwCf37EA

    • http://abearsrant.com thebear

      Actually, you are incorrect my good friend. Republics, monarchies, dictatorships and theocracies are systems of governments. Democracy is a process not a system. There are both democratic (US, Australia) and non-democratic republics (China, North Korea); absolute monarchies (Saudi Arabia) and Constitutional Monarchies (the Netherlands, Sweden, Canada etc. The United States is a republic that uses democracy to conform a government. China, by contrast, forms its government by decision of a single political party. Saudi Arabia is a monarchy where the king rules and he controls the government. Canada is a constitutional monarchy that uses the same democratic process as the United States to constitute its government.

      I appreciate that it has become popular in the US to try and separate the concept of republic from democracy but it can’t be done. It is a republic that democratically elects its government.

  • Pingback: A Bears Rant | Grumpy Opinions()

  • RunningWithTheWolves

    Hello Bear Contributors and Bear:

    I am an albertan. I have lived in 3 other provinces, Alberta is by far my favorite. but things are dire and we are headed for a cliff of our own with Alison Redford. I miss Ralph Klien.
    By no means was he perfect. Remember the visit to the homeless shelter to tell the occupants “to get a job”. His open admission to his stuggle with alcohol. And the Ralph Bucks he gave back to Alberta residents, which I did not mind. “He Gave Back”. Regardless of these instances, his popularity went up after these events. “King Ralph” as many dubbed him cared about Alberta and stood up for Alberta. He made his blunders, but left our province in good standing. How far we have fell in such a short time. Blame it on the price of oil?” Alison Redford says. The volitility of oi has always been there, only this is now an excuse.

    Dave RuthurFord of the Ruthford Radio show has invited her several times but she refuses. In essense, she refuses to awnser questions from the people of the province regarding Alberta’s growing debt, chosing paid T.V. time over a press conference that would have saved taxpayers money.

    I took my daughter a few months ago to the Peter Lougheed museum because i wanted to show her good politicians build up a province, not tear it down. We must constantly remind our impressionable youth that what is happening is wrong.

    For the first time I did not vote for P.C. but chose Wild Rose. A few rouges are always present in any party and it doesn’t bother me. I support P.C. ‘s federally.

    The whole world now is running on credit. And as the saying goes, you cannot pay your visa with your mastercard forever. It needs to end.

    Regards – RunningWithTheWolves

    • http://abearsrant.com thebear

      I understand that the Conservatives are now trying to avoid repaying any more money back. Like most imperial leaders, she has an unwarranted sense of entitlement.

  • dmorris

    The situation has been such for many years, we just notice it more now because the new generation of politicians is too crass and self-satisfied to maintain the illusion that we actually have a say in matters.

    Compared to the old guard,King,St,Laurent,Pearson,Dief,the new lot are more like dysfunctional Hollywood stars.

    We need a revolution, everybody recognizes that, then we can replace the unsatisfactory set of Rulers with another set of rulers who will turn out,at best, just like the old in a short while .

    Or if we’re really unlucky,like the Russians were in 1917, we can change Rulers for a total nightmare.

    Democracy has run it’s course, and we are going to experience rule by the whim of the elites,whether they bear the Party banner we support or not,it won’t make much difference.

    I can’t wait until Canada gets a PM whose main concern is “social justice”,then the rule of Stephen Harper will seem utopian by comparison.

    We’re just one election away.

    • http://abearsrant.com thebear

      I’m not quite as cynical as that but I agree, we need a revolution but it isn’t a revolution to overthrow an elite, it is a revolution to change our expectations. As William F. Buckley once said, “There is an inverse relationship between reliance on the state and self-reliance.” We make Imperial Democracies possible by enslaving ourselves. We are like cattle going willingly to the slaughter house. We actually have more power than we realize, we just don’t exercise it well and sometimes – not at all. When we stop acting like serfs and servants, the elite will no longer be able to act like divinely appointed royalty.

  • Peggy

    The only thing I disagree with is your description of Redford as a conservative. She is definitely not a conservative, not her spending, her policies, not even her looks.

    She is a big Liberal that infiltrated the PC party. The real conservatives left and formed the Wild Rose Party.

    • http://abearsrant.com thebear

      I agree that she acts like a Liberal but she is leader of the Conservative Party of Alberta. I criticize her party as much as her.If we are too be true to our values, we have to be prepared to hold those we have supported to the highest standard of all.

  • Garrett

    Hi Bear
    The question of suspending, proroguing, is a thorny one. It brings me back to when Jack Layton’s NDP and the Liberals tried to form the government with Layton as the PM. In my opinion those 2 parties did not get a mandate to govern and were trying to overthrow an elected government, even if it was a minority. I felt Harper was right to prorogue the House because of the circumstances. I don’t consider myself PC supporter, but I sure as hell had no interest in seeing Layton governing Canada without a mandate from voters.
    Your thoughts?

    • http://abearsrant.com thebear

      I’m like you. I’m of two minds about it. The difference between when Harper prorogued Parliament and what McGuinty did is fairly significant. Haprer prorogued the house for a month and a half in order to bring in a budget which would allow the House to determine whether or not his government survived. All budget bill s are confidence votes so he really wasn’t perverting the process, just allowing time to prepare a bill which Parliament could approve or disapprove as they saw fit. McGuinty, on the other hand, simply shut down the legislature for an indefinite period with no other objective than to try and give his party time to reorganize and appoint a new premier. There is in my mind, no excuse for proroguing the House for almost six months for your own convenience. What Chritie Clark has done is simply unconscienable.

      My overall preference would be that no government could prorogue Parliament except under specifically defined emergency circumstances. It shouldn’t be discretionary. Political parties have more than adequately demonstrated that they don’t handle discretionary powers very well.

      • Garrett

        Thanks for the history reminder I had forgotten why the “loyal” opposition of the time was attempting to usurp the democratic process and seize power from the government. there is little common sense in government, and just just ours, and left to their own devices government will run amok. Mcguinty is gone, the torch is passed to another…Redford is from the PC dynasty…and Clark she’s gone in the next election most likely followed by the “spendthrift” NDP if you believe the schlock from the media.

        I almost voted for Wildrose here in Alberta, but after a number of their MLA’s starting ranting about gays, church and other far right opinions that have no place in today’s society I reluctantly ticked the box next to the PC candidate.

        I think it’s time for change in Alberta but when candidates start beaking off about outdated religious beliefs and their opinions from the 60’s I think of building a cabin in the bush. I’m at a point where I think it’s as effective to put a blindfold on, and get a monkey to throw a dart to select a representative…in fact I think in many cases a monkey would do a better job. I vote now when it’s time for change and when there’s a viable candidate. I REALLY hope thats Wildrose. Is Danielle Smith a religious demagogue? Is she any worse than Redford and her dynastic party? I guess we’ll see…

        • http://abearsrant.com thebear

          The new premier of Ontario has already stated she wants to build on McGuinty’s legacy. The simple truth is that most parties campaign from the left or the right but there is little difference between them once they are in office. The notable exception is Quebec, where Pauline Marois is in a world of her own. Nothing will change until we change and that means demanding a higher standard of integrity and governance from all parties, not just those we oppose.

  • RunningWithTheWolves

    Thanks Bear. I am glad for stumbling across your website. I will continue to read with great interest. An erosion is happening in Canada and the world before our eyes, and many cannot see.
    Keep writing! God Bless.


  • old white guy

    if a rant can reach perfection this one has. i usually have at least a single one liner for most things i read but not for this one. it concerns me that i agree with everything you said. thanks.