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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.

Tuesday 30 April 2013

Political Ignorance and Blizzard's Blinders

In other words - free speech at all costs, but if you don't think exactly the way we do, you're clearly an idiot.
That's a wrong-headed approach - the same one that's gotten Vic Toews into trouble, repeatedly.  If you assume the public is dumb, then you don't want to risk exposing their ignorance to information with which they might form opinions that disagree with yours (and are therefore stupid).
But then you're withholding information, denying yourself constructive criticism and stifling a fundamental piece of our democratic process.  Then, to keep the message control up, you end up dictating to the Public Service, going over the head of our democracy entirely.
Freedom of speech cannot exist in an information vacuum.  By hiding the facts and indiscriminately dehumanizing anyone who disagrees with them, the "free-speech" Political Right prove themselves to be hypocrites. 
Blizzard can spin all she likes (and I have no doubt that she believes her own reactive rhetoric), but the fact is that every Party left with an unchallenged majority falls into the trap of putting long-term partisan interests ahead of the public good.  That's why we have a Parliament in the first place.  Which is why it's dangerous at any level for government to start interfering with the functioning of Parliament - when the institutional heart of our democracy ceases to function, so does the illusion that we have a representative system.  When government refuses to do it's job, others - like Anonymous - will step in and fill the gap. 
We have never had a government try to be as transparent and direct as Premier Wynne is attempting to be - in trying to promote a much-needed political culture change, Wynne is exposing herself and her government to all kinds of attacks from Opposition Parties who see winning power, not serving the province, as priority. 
No, she's not perfect and yes, the temptation to circle her political wagons and fall back to the traditional fight-or-flight of blood-sport politics will gnaw at her.  If the Opposition refuses to join the conversation - and if they succeed in using Wynne's open approach against her - you can guarantee that political operatives from all Parties will take notice and information will retreat back into the shadows.  Bureaucracies will increasingly be controlled by political masters.  Individual leaders and their own ideologies will drive the nation instead of evidence and public interest.
That's what gets us things like the press being denied the opportunity to speak to Omar Khadr, Canadian military being forced to consider "political truths" and the social costs that come with propping up the Canadian economy with cheap foreign labour.  Who knows how the RCMP bungling of Rehtaeh Parsons case and the politically convenient timing of the would-be VIA Rail bombers fits in. 
When governments start to treat the public like idiots and assume they can fool us with political slights of hand, the people will lose confidence in government entirely and turn elsewhere for the leadership they crave. That's how revolutions begin.
When you take the approach that you're smart and everyone else is dumb, all you're doing is proving your own ignorance - at everyone's peril.

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