With the Canadian Thanksgiving behind us and the new Throne Speech being put forward for the next sitting of Parliament what better time to do a little overview of the evolving Canadian democracy. As a starting point I decided to review the definition of democracy. The definition I am using reads “A form of government in which people freely govern themselves; where the executive (or administration) and law-making (or legislative) power is given to persons chosen by the population; the free people”. In Canada we live under a constitutional monarchy that reportedly adheres to a democratic process.
In a 1998 Canadian Supreme Court ruling (Vriend v. Alberta) democracy was further defined as “the concept means more than majority rule…In my view (Supreme Court Judge Iacobucci), a democracy requires that legislators take into account the interests of the majority AND minorities alike, all of whom will be affected by the decisions they make”. The list of issues that will affect everybody regardless of how they voted is to long to get into right now however if you are the least bit informed you will have a good understanding of that. Two of the big issues still outstanding while being rubbed in the faces of Canadians everyday are the Senate and the concept of a more open, transparent government. Just ask Brazil about how open Canadian democracy has become.
The Throne speech, due tomorrow, holds little secret that we are aware of. Both Minister Moore and Minister Kenney have been running around the country this weekend touting the speech. They remind me of a marketing team doing focus group exercises to test the water. This new found compassion for the average consumer by the Harper government is to be applauded but comes across as nothing more than vote pandering with the hopes that the whole Senate scandal will be pushed to the side.
It’s also good politics. It nicely drives a wedge between the government and the opposition parties. Wedge politics appears to be becoming the new face of democracy in North America. All you have to do is look south to really see how wedge politics can destroy a government. Again ask the Republicans how much love they have for the Tea Party component of their party but make sure you differentiate between love and fear.
In reviewing all of these promises reportedly coming out in tomorrows Throne speech I started to recognize all of them. Lower cell phone costs, better choices with cable television and more protection for the consumer on other issues like air travel are not new. Canadians have been hollering for protection in these areas for years. Opposition parties have gone as far as actually presenting motions to do this which have all fallen under the boot heels of the government. Now this same government is going to introduce their own measures while taking all of the credit for it.
This isn’t policy planning, this is a form of vote pandering based on a form of plagiarism. And anybody that has been paying attention will know that plagiarism is not new to Mr. Harper. This goes back almost ten years when then opposition leader, Stephen Harper, was accused of plagiarizing parts of a speech given by the Australian Prime Minister. Owen Lippert took the fall for that one and became one of many to be thrown under the bus to protect our esteemed Prime Minister. The same Prime Minister who would later tell the USA that he would not take “no” for an answer.
In my humble opinion this government has a lot of work left to do with Senate reform and an open, accountable system of government that will work for every Canadian before they start making more promises that may or may not be kept. I for one would like to see a Throne speech that deals with issues that will be accomplished and put into place before the 2015 election. We have already elected a government based on some promises that don’t even kick in for another twelve years (like the retirement age going up to 67).
So I will wait for the speech but more importantly I will be watching to see if our democracy can be mended. Again, in my humble opinion, it is broken but I hope not past repair. For this speech actions talk but bullshit walks.
Just one man’s opinion!