Sunday, December 18, 2011

Where is Our Anger?

I was trying to embed a video, even though the subject matter isn't what this post is about, but it seems to be having trouble. As such, just click the link below:


As we approach the end of the year, we find ourselves in a time of reflection. In the political world, there is a lot that we need to reflect on. As time marches forward, we find ourselves in what I would argue is a state of continued apathy. For the first time in Canadian history, we have a government who has proven their vagrant disrespect for the laws of the land and the collective response is less than an audible yawn.

We have a government who, even while in opposition, lowered the discourse level of debate in the House of Commons. Furthermore, they've completely shut down the discourse altogether. Conservatives have been attacking the media and 'leftists' who say that time allotment and closure are the same thing. Well, if it walks like and duck and talks like a duck...

The Conservatives have us arguing over semantics and the national lexicon, rather than focusing on the heart of the issue: Which is whether or not it is appropriate to limit the debate in the House of Commons. Yes, there will come a time when debate has run its course and the time to vote has arisen...But the Conservatives haven't allowed this point to be reached on more bills then I can name.

For a government that was first elected on transparency they are doing everything possible to keep us in the dark.

As such, it is imperative to the nature of good government to allow debate and discussion. Using time allotment or closure, really flip sides of the same coin, prevents this from occurring and denies the due process that we should expect of those creating laws that we must follow.

Despite Canadians being denied due process and good governance, we continue to say nothing. Some of us are vocal and condemn these events, but it would seem that the vast majority of Canadians cannot be bothered to care about what is going on in Ottawa. The Harper Government sets fire to our institutions, and not a damned soul can be bothered to even yell 'Fire!' with any sort of conviction.

That brings us to the Wheat Board. Despite a federal judge saying that the Conservatives were violating the act that regulated the board by not having a farmer vote; the Conservatives were hellbent on passing through their bill that would scrap the board. Despite pleas from the opposition to halt the bill and have due process, the Conservatives refused. They rushed the bill through the House of Commons, and invoked closure in the Senate as well.

Hopefully, though doubtfully, Governor General David Johnston will have enough common sense to refuse to provide royal assent; or at least make it conditional on the outcome of the courts.Though, Canada hasn't had a GG rock the boat since Byng-King, so this scenario seems highly unlikely.

Add this to their contempt charge, and we have a government who clearly does not give two shakes about the rule of law.

And yet, despite this, Canadians remain silent. The bulk of us seem to have our fingers in our ears, our eyes clenched firmly shut, and the hamsterdance blocking out all other sounds in our minds. We have a government who is committed to keeping us in the dark and denying our elected officials the ability to do the jobs that we have elected them for...Who also seems more than willing to break the law and have the audacity to claim that they aren't.

And then there's the Irwin Cotler affair...I'll make this one brief: The Conservatives have been running a phone campaign saying that Cotler is going to resign and there is going to be a by-election in his riding. The Conservatives, surprisingly, admitted to being behind the phone calls...But suggest that they're protected by free speech and other flimsy excuses.

The Speaker has called the practice 'reprehensible'; but, it turns out that the company making the calls was hired by his campaign in the last election. Awkward.

So, not only are they completely undermining our political system...They also seem to be completely morally bankrupt. Did anyone vote for that?

All of this created a situation that was eventually going to come to ahead...And in some ways, it did. Now, I've made a habit of making sure that the content of this blog confirmed to a certain sense of decorum...Especially when it comes to curse words. But, for the purpose of this post, I would feel hypocritical talking about this subject yet curbing the words.

So, for those faint of heart, some mildly strong language follows below.

Given all the things the Conservatives have done since their re-election, its understandable that a Member of Parliament would stand up and lose their temper. Enter Justin Trudeau. Perhaps it should have been clear that he would be the one, given his father's short temper as well, but it was still surprising.

When Environment Minister Peter Kent came back from an international conference where Canada announced it was pulling out of Kyoto (though, let's face facts, we'd pulled out of Kyoto long before this official announcement) and was basically not open to further international agreements...Mr. Trudeau promptly called 'Bullshit' and called Kent himself 'a piece of shit'.

Strong words indeed.

Trudeau was quick to apologize for his overzealous and unparliamentary behaviour...But, why is he the one apologizing?

I've said before that sometimes we expect too much from our politicians, after all they are human, and I'm sure all of us have reached a point where we lost our temper at a time when we shouldn't have. Yes, Trudeau probably shouldn't have sworn in the House of Commons; BUT we can understand how he reached the point of frustration that caused him to have this outburst in the first place.

Which brings me to the point of this post: Trudeau has clearly shown his anger, as has NDP MP Pat Martin (via twitter and with even STONGER language), so why haven't the rest of us?

This is behaviour that affects us all.

And I'm not speaking about the opposition MPs...This is a government that is hellbent on changing Canada and they have already succeeded in many ways. They're destroyed our international reputation, from peacemaker to 'warmonger'. From elder statesman at the UN, to unprincipled amateur prone to temper tantrums. From reasoned thinkers who spur on global change, to the loudest voice of denial in the room.

And with words today that the government could cut more than expected (especially in regards to health care transfers to the provinces), they will now focus on destroying our internal reputation now that our international one is promptly destroyed.

I love this country, but I worry deeply about what it will look like in a few years time. We are not powerless. To borrow a phrase, 'people should not be afraid of their governments, governments should be afraid of their people.'

The Arab Spring that occurred this year, shows that that phrase is indeed true. People are fighting for democracy and choice across the world, and we're allowing it to die a slow and lingering death. Our MPs are becoming increasingly useless, nothing more than arm candy, under this government...While real power is siphoned into the PMO and PCO.

This is not what we voted for.

So, I ask...Where is our anger? I'm not calling for revolution or anarchy or anything like that...But we still have power in this country and we can keep a government to task for the things they do in our name. A government will abuse its power when it thinks that the people are not willing to stand up and fight for the things they believe in.

I know that perhaps Canadians aren't known for their anger, but this is an instance where we need to be ready to stand up for our country and ourselves. We need to find our anger and we need to direct it to the right places.

We can prevent this government from running roughshod over us, and our beliefs as a nation, but we need to be willing to fight for the things that we know in our hearts are right.

To borrow another phrase, from the video I've linked to earlier: "Better to find your anger now, than wake up after the next election cycle and ask yourself where are my rights?"

On a random side note, I am toying with the idea of starting a second blog revolving around more abstract and philosophical questions. Should this idea stick with me, I shall be sure to let you all know.


Lorne said...

Scott, there is nothing you have written here with which I disagree. Despite the fact that I am much older than you, I share both your frustration over Canadian passivity and your passion for a government that actually represents the people.

I have been thinking about the very question you pose here for some time, and I have come to a few tentative conclusions:

One is that the deprivation of true democracy that characterizes this government is quite intentional, one of the purposes being to disenchant and disengage as many people as possible so that they are left to draw the conclusion that to vote is a meaningless gesture. The more people they convince of that, the better the chance is that only the true believers will turn out in future elections, leaving the field clear to keep re-electing these retrograde representatives of the right-wing.

Another problem, I think, is that so many people are working so hard simply to make ends meet that they have no time to direct their attention to the political process. Although I have always been a politically engaged person, the fact that I am now retired gives me much more time to devote to reading and keeping abreast of important issues. The luxury of time is something many do not enjoy.

Finally, I have concluded that unless people are willing to tear themselves away from many of the distractions of their daily lives, such as addictions to reality shows, electronic gadgets, etc. and make an effort to read and think, the kinds of polices that the Harperites are enacting, which invite a visceral rather than a cerebral response (think omnibus crime bills, unveiling people at citizenship events, name-calling of those who oppose them, etc.), will continue.

I am somewhat heartened, however, when I see young people such as yourself involved and engaged. It gives me a little more hope that the future may not be entirely bleak.

Scott said...

Thanks for your comments, Lorne!

I wholeheartedly agree with your first argument; this government is intentionally undermining our government is order to ensure that only their cronies and supporters will turn out en masse in future elections.

The only true counterbalance we have is that while there are die-hard politicos on their side, our side also has some as well. No matter what they do, we'll keep voting.

Whether we'll outnumber them or not is up to speculation; but you never know which way the wind blows with people who are dedicated to having their vote count.

Secondly, there is a problem of time management in our society. And yes, that means that people aren't always as well informed as they could be.

However, I disagree with electronic devices being part of those distractions. My phone, for example, allows me to keep up to date on daily news and in contact with politically minded people. So, if anything, these devices can also solve the problem by increasing connectivity between people and increasing the number of people who pass messages along to others.

But otherwise, I think you've hit a lot the problems squarely on the head.