- I'll very much hope Chantal Hebert is wrong in her conclusion that Canadians are getting ever more doubtful as to whether change is possible through the ballot box. But one can't much argue with her take on why that perception might be developing:
In the national capital, a government elected with barely four in every 10 votes a year ago has since been going out of its way to disenfranchise the majority that did not support it.
Over the opening year of their majority mandate, Stephen Harper’s Conservatives have moved to discourage civic dissent — in particular but not exclusively on the environmental front.
They have replaced federal-provincial dialogue with diktats and adversarial litigation.
They have placed themselves on a collision course with the courts over the place of the rule of law in the exercise of ministerial discretion.
The concept of ministerial responsibility has been reduced to a quaint historical footnote and parliamentary accountability is on the same slippery slope.
In the House of Commons, the government has moved to stifle the input of its opposition critics at every turn, systematically curtailing debate on bills or more simply subtracting legislation from competent scrutiny by cramming it inside inflated omnibus bills.
It should surprise no one that governments who treat the rule of law as a pesky inconvenience will eventually breed the same attitude in those that they purport to legislate for.- But then, it's also important to make sure that expressions of public interest aren't limited to a vote every four years - and so it's a plus to see that the opposition parties are looking at the budget debate as an opportunity to get more citizens involved.
- Meanwhile, Kady confirms that the one halting attempt to paint the Cons' latest move toward total control over Canada's political debate (by preventing committees from holding hearings in public on anything other than the Cons' choice of topics) goes far beyond the precedent pointed to as an example of "but they did it too!!!".
- Mark Lemstra reviews Ryan Meili's A Healthy Society for the Star-Phoenix.
- And finally, Bruce Campbell discusses what Canada can do to actually manage its resource wealth (as opposed to merely looking for ways to shove it into corporate hands as quickly as possible).