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Recovering backpacker, Cornwallite at heart, political enthusiast, catalyst, writer, husband, father, community volunteer, unabashedly proud Canadian. Every hyperlink connects to something related directly or thematically to that which is highlighted.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Fair Elections Act, Fair Game: Reap What You Sow

Is the Fair Elections Act a sneaky, not-so-subtle ploy to rejig the way our electoral system works in their favour?  Or is it a misguided attempt to fix problems the Tories feel exists within our system and they're simply too stubborn to realize they're wrong?

Probably a bit of both, with heavy leanings on the former.  Remember - this is the Conservative Government whose leader misrepresent an opposition coalition as illegal and whose House Leader threatened to ignore the Constitutional process by "going over the heads of" Parliament, to whom Government is legally accountable.

Which is the underlying story in this.  Folk like Vic Toews, Dean del Mastro and Pierre Poilievre have a certain mindset which has made them valuable attack-dogs for Stephen Harper.  They all believe that strength and superiority are the only virtues that matter.  They could care less about Harper's former vision of a Conservative Canada with greater independence for all - they're all about Empire and the entitlement that comes with it.  

All else is justification.

The biggest failing of their perspective is that they've made the assumptions that all the Canadians who matter feel the same way as they do.  Del Mastro felt violated by Elections Canada because he got caught breaking the rules in the same way Rob Ford feels violated for the press exploring his law-breaking ways.  Poilievre has taken extreme relish in the message-focused, fact-ignoring riposte of Question Period and Press Scrums, assuming that the Canadians who matter like the fact that he's hard-nosed and admire him for it.

This is a Party that has fallen from grace.  It's strayed far from the path Preston Manning laid out not that long ago.  

The newer faces in the crowd, however, don't care.  They're no longer interested in shrinking government; they're focused on consolidating power and control.

Should we be concerned about this alarming trend?  Yes and no.  

Yes, in that all the critics are right; the Fair Elections Act, like closed committee meetings, withheld information, increased micro-management by government of the agencies meant to provide transparency and technical oversight of political decisions before it, are damaging to the well-being of our democracy and the sustainability of our country.  

But this is a trend that started before the Harper Tories took power and looks likely to continue after they're gone, too.  That's part of the structural problem no Political Party has yet addressed, because they have become the problem.  Parliament and Government are Church and State - they're meant to be separate entities.  How can Parliament hold Government to account when Government is dominated by Parliamentarians?  It can't work.

Which is why there is long-term promise in the way the Poilievres of the world are undermining the system we have.  They don't see it - they're not practicing the lessons of Sun-tzu - but they are actually helping to catalyze the replacement of this system with something else.

By making it harder for the average Canadian to even pretend they have a system that represent their best interests, the likes of Poilievre are simply encouraging more Canadians to decide the only way to protect their interests is to go over the heads of Parliament and Government itself.

Occupy was a lot of noise without action, but it rattled cages.  Idle No More had (has) some teeth.   Despite the fact it has been infiltrated by government agencies like the FBI, Anonymous is still keeping a watchful eye on miscarriages of justice.  And the Open Data movement is looking to open government from the inside out.

If control, dominance and fire superiority (costly attack ads) are the Conservative Government's priorities, they're going to find themselves stamping down harder on a growing number of foes, which is a slippery slope for any government to walk.  But the same will hold true for any other Party looking to wrest the reigns of power from the Tories.

If you're paying attention, things are looking worrisome right now as far as the health of our democracy goes.  They'll get downright frightening before enough people are motivated enough to do something about it.  When that happens, though, there is already a legitimate, democratic movement underway to replace our ancient system.  

Not everyone will want to take the slow road of structural change, though.  Some will just want to make someone pay for the injustices they feel.  

At that point, Government and Parliament both will have a choice - lump all the change-seekers together in one group and declare war on all of them (which would be a big mistake) or opt to work with those actually trying to help them.

You reap what you sow.  Right now, the Conservatives are clear-cutting democracy; fortunately, there are others who have already planted the seeds of a responsible society.

Spring is coming to Canada, and it's about time.

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