Demanding for Ukrainians What is Denied to Canadians
The Harper government has introduced a significant piece of legislation to address issues with elections in Canada. Called the Fair Elections Act, the legislation is more than 200 pages in length and contains some serious changes, some of which go to the heart of our constitutional rights as citizens.
One proposed change is to take away the right to vote from any Canadian citizen who lives outside of the country for five years or more. To my way of thinking this is more than simply administrative reform. This takes away a right of citizenship and, in fact, will create classes of citizenship where some have more or less rights than others.
That’s merely my opinion and others may hold differing positions but it is an issue and a proposed legislation that is serious enough that Canadians from all sides of the political spectrum should be permitted to have some input into whether or not they agree with all provisions of the bill.
The opposition parties wanted the Parliamentary committee examining the legislation to travel across Canada to meet with Canadians and give them that opportunity. The Harper government has vetoed that consultation under the guise that it is too expensive as if money was more important than our rights.
There is something patently offensive about a government that not only refuses to consult with citizens on significant changes to their rights but makes a mockery of that decision in Parliament and the media.
This morning it was announced that the Harper government would provide money to Ukraine which is in the throes of political upheaval. I support Ukrainians in their fight for more democratic reform and even support providing financial aid but what angers me is that while we have money to support Ukrainians, we don’t have money to allow Canadians to meet with a Parliamentary committee reviewing the Fair Elections Act.
We had a few million to scatter around the Middle East while the Prime Minister was in Israel but two months of across Canada Parliamentary hearings will break the bank apparently.
We have provided money to support Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, the opposition to the Assad regime in Syria but can’t find $2 or $300,000 to meet with Canadians on democratic reform.
There is even $600,000 set aside by the Harper government to fund various Parliamentary committees to travel to Texas and New York to talk to Americans but we can’t afford to have representatives from our own government travel across this country to listen to us.
It’s not surprising when you consider this government’s track record at assessing what is and isn’t important.
Nine veterans’ service centres were closed to save $34 million but there is up to $50 million to build a new memorial to honour those same veterans. There was $100 million to squander on advertising for the Harper government’s Economic Action Plan and millions more last year to advertise the non-existent Canada Works program which still hasn’t been initiated.
There’s half a billion set aside to give to Chrysler and there was another $400 million to give to the profitable petroleum industry.
There’s lots of money being thrown around but when it comes to providing the means to allow Canadians the opportunity to speak – we’re broke. Nothing is decided based on principle; only on what is politically expedient.
Stephen Harper loves democracy and is a great supporter of it – everywhere but here in Canada. Here, he finds the whole democracy thing to be inconvenient and too expensive. He would prefer that we just sat quietly and allowed him to get on with things but that ain’t how it works.
This government wasn’t given a mandate by the people to set up classes of citizenship by unilaterally stripping away rights from some citizens. We have a right to have our thoughts heard before the legislation is passed and the right to decide for ourselves what we are and are not prepared to give up. For it’s part, the Harper government has an absolute responsibility to enable those discussions.
Personally, I’m tired of people like Stephen Harper, Pauline Marois and others from various political parties treating our constitutional rights as little more than privileges that they can provide or remove at their will like parents dealing with petulant children.
Whether it is Ukraine or Canada; when it comes to democratic reform, the people have a right to voice their opinion. It is cheap and cynical politics to prance around the world making a show of supporting that principle in other countries while crying poor-mouth to justify denying it to your own citizens.
If you are prepared to demand that the citizens of other countries have a right to be consulted and heard; ignoring that same right to your own citizens is nothing short of hypocrisy.
I believe that if a political leader has no respect for the people and their rights then they can’t have any for the nation, its citizens or the democratic principles on which the nation is founded. As we have seen too often in the past, a political leader who lacks the confidence to consult with his or her own people is no leader at all.
He is, in fact, what many in other countries including Ukraine, are currently fighting against.
© 2013 Maggie’s Bear
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