A blog to give a voice to our concern about the continued erosion of our democratic processes not only within the House of Commons and within our electoral system but also throughout our society. Here you will find articles about the current problems within our parliamentary democracy, about actions both good and bad by our elected representatives, about possible solutions, opinions and debate about the state of democracy in Canada, and about our roles/responsibilities as democratic citizens. We invite your thoughtful and polite comments upon our posts and ask those who wish to post longer articles or share ideas on this subject to submit them for inclusion as a guest post.
Contact us at democracyunderfire@gmail.com

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Compare and Decide where the problem lies..

The latest story regarding robotic phone calls during the last federal election is that in one riding the Liberal candidates team made an error and failed to identify themselves in a number of calls where they passed on (totally correct) information about an opposing candidate. They have been fined $4,900 by the CRTC for breaking telemarketing rules. Once the error was pointed out the candidate cooperated fully with the investigation and apologized on behalf of his staff for the error and is seeking to make the rules clearer for both his own future election team and that of others.

On the other hand the ongoing investigation into numerous misleading and fraudulent in numerous riding across Canada is going nowhere. The alleged instigators of the calls are doing everything they can to stall legal proceedings in the courts to challenge certain election results where results were close and could have been affected by said phone calls and Elections Canada who in this case are those responsible for getting to the bottom of the problem appear to be dragging their feet and are attempting to withhold information from the court.

In the latter case the number of complaints which EC has admitted to receiving has more that doubled since the widespread use of these calls designed to suppress voter turnout by anyone not supporting the conservatives became public. We note that since this story broke and EC started 'investigating' the head honcho there has be replaced by an individual chosen by the government, the budget of EC has been cut by the government, and their has been no cooperation in releasing information from the government, and no call for a public inquiry by the government. Is is just coincidence that the government in question is the party that is thought to be the one responsible for the fraud, and the one appealing every move the citizens make to get to the bottom of this affliction on our democracy. I think not.

A special Tip o the Hat to POGIE for his two posts on this linked above. For the whole picture on the ongoing robocall fraud please see my Election Malfeasance page which list numerous links to articles on this subject, they are in approximate chronological order.

Rural Readers please visit my survey on Rural Internet Communications, for more information on why I am seeking such information please see this post at The Rural Canadian.

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Sunday, August 19, 2012

In Search of Heroes

I am a little rushed this week an so will simply republish this article by Elizabeth May who is far better qualified to speak about such matters than I.

On Wednesday, June 13th,  just after Question Period and before the tabling of amendments to the Omnibus Budget Bill C-38, a rally took place outside Parliament. The on-line advocacy group leadnow.com had called for people, at the very last minute, to support the opposition amendments.  Taking their theme from the YouTube of Conservative MP David Wilks speaking candidly with his constituents, the rally called for Conservative MPs to step forward and be heroes. In the video, Wilks, MP for Kootenay-Columbia, told his voters that he did not like the Omnibus Budget Bill. He explained that Conservative MPs (outside of Cabinet) had no more idea than the voters themselves what would be in the bill  -- or any bill.  And he said that as one MP, he could not make a difference.  It would take 13 Conservatives to vote against the bill to make a difference, he explained.  Once the video was on YouTube, and, as a result discussed on every TV news show, Wilks’s website posted a statement of complete support for C-38.
The rally, amazingly well attended, was a boost to us as we went back into the House.  It was the last time I saw daylight until Friday morning. The rally’s placards called for “13 heroes.”

If the search for heroes is defined by Conservative MPs voting for C-38 amendments, then there are none in Ottawa, but that is not the case.
David Wilks was attacked in the media for caving -- for failing to challenge the Prime Minister directly, despite his clear integrity and unhappiness with the “system.”  His statements, despite capitulation and retraction, constituted a kind of heroism in a system where everyone seems to be afraid of earning the Prime Minister’s wrath. My experience of current Ottawa is of a place in the throes of oppression. Scientists are muzzled, but why do they not defy bosses and speak out anyway?  They are afraid of losing their jobs. Some in industry have told me they avoid any public criticism of the Prime Minister because they have children working in the civil service. They are afraid for their children’s jobs. Reporters have been cowed by higher ups in their media corporations telling them to lay off criticizing the PM. They are afraid for their jobs (and several reporters have lost their jobs for offending the PMO). Little wonder the members of Mr. Harper’s caucus are silent.  They know from the experience of Helena Guergis just how painful and complete banishment can be.

In this column, I want to celebrate people of integrity who lost much by refusing to be silenced.  Conservative MPs who stood up to the Prime Minister constitute a short list, and only one is still in the Conservative Caucus.  Conservative Ontario MP Michael Chong was Minister for Intergovernmental Affairs until the PM moved a motion calling Quebecers “a nation.”  Since that was Chong’s portfolio and since he was never consulted, he graciously left Cabinet for the backbenches.  There he remains.
Former Nova Scotia MP Bill Casey stood on principle and voted against the budget due to the fact it violated the oil revenue-sharing contract called the Atlantic Accord.  He was thrown from caucus. Casey is a man of integrity.  He paid a big price, but he is not the only one.  MP Garth Turner was also thrown from the Conservative Party when he refused to stop blogging on issues that concerned him back in 2006.
Sometimes bravery in the Conservative ranks comes from refusing to vote at all. Albertan James Rajotte, and Ontario MPs Royal Galipeau and Pat Davidson refused to join their colleagues standing to vote that asbestos is safe.  Braver to be in the room and refuse to vote than manage to avoid voting by not being in the House at all  -- as a number of Conservatives did.

Speaking out against Harper’s agenda is difficult even for retired MPs.  Full marks to the two Progressive Conservative Fisheries Ministers, Tom Siddon and John Fraser, for signing the joint letter with Liberal former ministers Herb Dhaliwahl and David Anderson condemning the gutting of the Fisheries Act  in C-38.   Former Conservative MP, Bob Mills of Red Deer, was heroic agreeing to speak out to denounce the loss of the National Round Table on Environment and Economy in a press conference I organized against C-38.
The very brave are those who stood on principle to support good public policy only to be fired, forced to quit or have careers stall. The following is a partial list, a brief reminder of people who continue to live without the jobs and careers they deserve.
  • The former Deputy Minister of Statistics Canada Munir Sheikh who resigned on principle one year ago when his Minister, Tony Clement, claimed that no one in the bureaucracy had warned him that cancelling the Long Form Census would be a huge mistake.  He had warned the minister and he could not live with the lie.
  • Linda Keen, former head of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, fired for insisting on nuclear safety upgrades at Chalk River.
  • Richard Colvin, the diplomat who testified to the violations of international law in the transfer of Afghan detainees. He was berated as a Taliban stooge by the Conservatives.
  • Kevin Page, Parliamentary Budget Officer, who has found that merely doing his job, providing fiscal updates to Parliamentarians has earned the PM’s wrath. He has announced he will not stay on beyond his first term. Meanwhile, he has warned the Prime Minister that he will go to court to force release of budgetary information he believes Parliamentarians need, unless it is released before the House resumes.
So many people in Saanich-Gulf Islands are active and engaged.  With what remains of the summer, can you contact a friend or relative living in Conservative-held riding?  Stephen Harper is planning a second omnibus bill to implement Budget 2012 for the fall. We need to urge Conservative MPs to push back and refuse to support a repeat version of C-38.
We need more heroes.

Elizabeth May is the Leader of the Green Party of Canada and Member of Parliament for Saanich-Gulf Islands
Originally published in the Island Tides and on the GPC blog

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Sunday, August 12, 2012

Election Fraud Case Further Delayed.

In the ongoing court case brought by Council of Canadians challenging the legitimacy of seven particular ridings election results, RMG the company that worked for the Conservatives is now claiming 'we did not do it' despite compelling information to the contrary. The Conservatives them selves are of course making concerted attempts to have the case thrown out before it comes before the courts, invoking every legal loophole they can find. Thus far they have not succeeded the court having ruled that “the applications raise serious issues about the integrity of the democratic process in Canada and identify practices that, if proven, point to a campaign of activities that would seek to deny eligible voters their right to vote and/or manipulate or interfere with that right being exercised freely.”

Steven Shrybman, lawyer for the Council of Canadians, makes this point:
“Even though Langhorne describes the critical role the Conservative Party of Canada plays in creating the scripts that were read to voters and deciding who’s going to be called, there’s no one that’s come forward from the Conservative Party of Canada to explain what they were doing or not doing in relation to contacting non-supporters, which is the key issue at the centre of this case.”
At this point it is important to realize that this action was NOT invoked by Elections Canada who have in fact NOT, at this point, taken any action regarding the many allegations of election fraud, election funding fiddles and other very troubling actions by the Harper Regime that appear to have been aimed at stealing the election. It may be that Elections Canada is carefully collecting evidence in order to prove wrongdoing but as with this court case thing seem to be moving exceedingly slow. As Saskboy says in his latest update :-

“When will this super-important case be decided? Well, not until this Winter, at a yet to be determined date. WTF? Our country’s democracy is up in the air, and the courts are going to wait for four season changes since the story broke into the mainstream last February, before they hear part of the case? That’s so frucking ridiculous; as if they could possibly have something more urgent than the legitimacy of our federal government!”

Much of this delay is of course due to all the filings by the Cons who's main objective is NOT to get to the truth (which in all probability would NOT prove their innocence) but to delay and obscure as much as possible, no doubt to reach the point where the courts will say yes there was cheating but its too late to void the election results. Be assured that it will be either settled or dismissed long before the next election so that the public can be conned into forgetting about it when next at the polls. This writer for one will NOT be forgetting any of the Harper Regimes various lies, cheating and disdain of our democratic processes. In that regard see the ongoing (incomplete) lists of malfeasance by this lot in the pages linked at the top of this page.

In a related post Montreal Simon reports that “Elections Canada investigators tracking “Pierre Poutine” hit a dead end when the Internet address behind misleading robocalls in the last election led them to an open Wi-Fi connection in a private residence near Guelph.” Irregardless it had to be someone with access to the database and RGM so SOMEONE knows who it was!

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Sunday, August 5, 2012

Democracy in Decline

A study into the state of democracy in Britain over the last decade warns it is in "long-term terminal decline" as the power of corporations keeps growing, politicians become less representative of their constituencies and disillusioned citizens stop voting or even discussing current affairs.
The report by Democratic Audit shared exclusively with the Guardian notes there have been many positive advances over the last 10 years: stronger select committees of MPs holding ministers and civil servants to account; devolution of power to Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and publication of much more information about politicians' expenses and party donors. But it found evidence of many other areas where Britain appeared to have moved further away from its two benchmarks of representative democracy: control over political decision-making, and how fairly the system reflects the population it represents – a principle most powerfully embedded in the concept of one person, one vote.
Among its concerns, identified from databases of official statistics and public surveys, were that Britain's constitutional arrangements are "increasingly unstable" owing to changes such as devolution; public faith in democratic institutions "decaying"; a widening gap in the participation rates of different social classes of voters; and an "unprecedented" growth in corporate power, which the study's authors warn "threatens to undermine some of the most basic principles of democratic decision-making".

Oh my god, parliamentary democracy system in Great Britain where we inherited our system of government from is “unstable”, “decaying” and in decline, that could not happen here in Canada could it?
Woops, to late!






This is just a small sampling with numerous links in each piece to further reading. I see no point in repeating myself endlessly, I begin to despair that enough citizens will wake up in time to turn things around .... and by the time we get to try and elect a government that gives a damn about democracy, parliamentary process (is there such an animal?) and Ordinary Canadians, as opposed to Corporate Multinationals, power and control, will it already be too late? Support Democracy - Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers