Canada joins the petro-democracies

Posted 06.20.12

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | There were plenty of crocodile tears shed in Canada during the last federal election about the weaknesses of a minority government. Although the country seemed to be doing just fine with its minority governments, we were assured minorities are the road to disaster.

The last thing we wanted was to appear "weak." That turns out to be the main argument against a minority government. In the jock-strap world of international politics, minorities are wimps, or at least that was what we were assured. Yup, we believed this stupidity. We held our nose and voted in a majority government.

Last week Canada's democratic traditions received a deadly left hook to the jaw, thanks to that oh-so-strong and virile majority government. We forgot a playground lesson, that if you play with (vote in) a bully, you get bullied. Since it's early in this mandate, we'll forget this lesson again, long before the next "election", when a third of the population gets to determine our future. Maybe not even a third, if we are ever able to subtract the robo-call fraud that seemed to have helped the bullies squeeze in.

That's right. Thirty-eight percent of Canadian voters gave the present government "a majority". Thanks to our ability to twist words beyond their normal meaning, that's a majority. The MPs representing the 62 percent of Canadians who did not vote for the new government are the minority. Sound like double-speak? A bit like 1984 or Brave New World, where minorities are majorities and democracy means dictating to Canadians what the government wants done?

The hook to the jaw last week was the House of Commons passing its second omnibus bill, called a budget. In the tradition of right-wing Republican legislators in the US, this stealth-budget changed over 70 statutes, all without debate. It wiped out Canadians' commitment to environment protection, and changed laws from old age pensions to the fisheries act -- with no public consultation, no public debate, and no parliamentary processing -- debate was shut down by the virile majority, which is what bullies do.

Will democracy get up off the floor?

We hope so. The MPs representing the majority of Canadians, that's the minority in our newly Reformed system, waged a determined effort to at least embarrass the government into its legislative responsibilities. But the bully-party refused to revise even a comma.

Our problems with majorities: embarrassment is not a political tool; we can only believe first and regret later; a majority government, no matter how that majority is obtained or defined, is no longer democratic when it ruled by people with totalitarian instincts; a party defined by its commitment not to the people but to corporations and their balance sheets has no interest in the messiness of the democratic process.

In having this omnibus pretend-budget rammed down our throats last week, with all sorts of stealth legislation hidden inside, we've been shown the weakness of majority government. It isn't pretty.

Copyright © 2012 Fred Ryan/Log Cabin Chronicles/06.12