“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
People 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. La 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.
In 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 funding 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.
The 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.
Indeed, 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.
© 2013 Maggie’s Bear
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