Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Our modern-day excuse for a democracy....

......CTVGlobeMedia and Torstar propagating patent lies about tax leakage.

Something rotten in the state of Canada?

Globe and Mail
April 28, 2009

In Elizabeth May's just-published book, Losing Confidence, she talks about how we suffer from collective amnesia. Quoting Jane Jacobs, the Green Party Leader says we seem to readjust rapidly without noticing all that has been lost.

Such is the case, says Ms. May, in respect to the pillars of our parliamentary democracy. They continue to rot, but we're sort of used to it by now. The media report the latest degradation and move on. A new year comes. Last season's abuses are behind us, allowed to stand.

Ms. May isn't about to let us forget. In her well-written book, she witheringly takes stock. She charts the total stranglehold the prime minister has on power - worse, she says, than ever before. She charts how freedom of the press has become the right of a few all-powerful owners - worse than ever before. She charts how our state police have become politicized and untrustworthy - worse than ever before.

"If Canadians," she writes, "heard about a country where a handful of people controlled all the news media, where the state police could deliberately interfere in an election ... where the prime minister enjoyed excessive power, we would justly picture a Third World nation that languishes behind modern democracies."

Ms. May describes last December's prorogation of Parliament as "breathtakingly anti-democratic." Never had a PM sought to end a session of Parliament within days of its opening. "Never in the history of modern parliamentary democracy anywhere in the world had a prime minister sought to shut down the government to avoid losing a confidence vote."

By way of a big-stretch comparison, she goes all the way back to England's Charles I. He, too, shut down Parliament when he found its restrictions unpleasing. In his case, it resulted in civil war and his execution.

In Canada, the drama was over in a couple of weeks. We've moved on, Ms. May says, the result being yet another precedent in place for the malfunctioning of democracy. What the PM got away with boggles her mind. How could he say Stéphane Dion did not have the right to take office without an election when it would have been perfectly legal and perfectly constitutional in a minority Parliament?

How about his near apoplexy over a coalition government? Here she cites Stephen Harper's own letter of 2004 to the Governor-General saying she should know that he and the opposition parties, separatists included, were prepared to work together as an alternative should the Liberal Parliament be dissolved. But, despite this, Mr. Harper was able to turn, "with his usual accomplices in the media," the idea of a coalition government supported by democratically elected Bloc Québécois members into some sort of monstrous power grab that outraged the Canadian public.

To hear Ms. May tell it, Canadians were hornswoggled. The advent of imperial prime ministerial rule began, she notes, under Pierre Trudeau and, under Mr. Harper, has reached its nadir.

It's not just this anti-democratic trend that has the Green Lady stirred. She weighs in on several others, not the least of which is the concentration of media power. Very few are prepared to talk about this issue. Certainly the media aren't. But Ms. May lets loose.

She revisits previous commissions on mass media that decried the trend toward too much power in the hands of too few media owners. The 1981 Kent commission said the situation had become deplorable. But if it were deplorable then, Ms. May makes the case that it's even worse now, with media monopolies crowding out independent voices. The public again is badly served. Governments won't move on the problem because the corporate media owners "tend to be the friends and power base of the parties most often in power."

Ms. May, who stays away from her environmental causes in this book, trashes NDP Leader Jack Layton for selling his soul to political expediency while he unjustifiably gave a free ride to the Liberals.

But the important thing is what she has to say about the system. Ms. May doesn't break new ground in this book. But she has pulled together the many distressing strands, enabling readers not just to see the trees but the whole ugly forest that is our modern-day excuse for a democracy.

1 comment:

Dr Mike said...

Well done Elizabeth!!!!!!

That leads to the question of why this book was necessary in the first place---it all stems from the the need for power , the need to be the head cheese , the need to be numero uno , the need to be the Grand Poobah , the need to be PM.

In their quest to be Mr Big , these guys have forgotten one thing , they work for us.

Maybe they should try listening to the people some time , as that is how a true democracy works.

I don`t know about you but I am tired of being treated like a mushroom & being kept in the dark.

Dr Mike

PS---so the PM had crib notes at the English leader`s debate, eh---I thought that was against the rules or something.