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, November 30, 2014

Vitriolic nastiness does not breed respect.

Stephen Lewis , the former Ontario NDP leader, United Nations ambassador and lifelong human rights advocate recently took aim at the “pre-paleolithic Neanderthals” in office and their role in the decline of Parliament, the suppression of dissent, the plight of First Nations, their blinkered climate-change policy and our plummeting world status.
That his words have been picked up by numerous newspapers and bloggers this week makes it no less important that his assessment of the Harper Regime be repeated here, they are words that need repeating time and time again.

Lewis told the Symons Lecture on the future of confederation: that Canada’s world standing is in free fall, the Harper government’s contempt for Parliament and its traditions has degraded political life and fostered voter cynicism and that its attitude to aboriginals is not paternalistic, it is racist. Also that Harper’s refusal to join the rest of the world and move toward renewable energy sources is endangering future generations and contributing to a looming planetary meltdown and that civil society and the ideas it fosters have been slapped down and censored, subverting democratic norms.

In comparing the current atmosphere in Ottawa to that of the Ontario legislature when he served there during William Davis years he said that there was then a respect in that chamber and that it was fostered by the premier.

Vitriolic nastiness in debate does not breed respect, nor does adolescent partisanship, nor do pieces of legislation of encyclopedic length that hide contentious issues, nor does the sudden emergence of frenzied TV attack ads, nor does the spectre of a Prime Minister’s Office exercising authoritarian control.”Stephen Lewis

Another more recent politician who's scars from some of that “vitriolic nastiness” are still relatively fresh says that in his opinion there is no longer any expectation in politics of debating the message but just attacks upon the messenger

Michael Ignatieff says “I went into politics thinking that, if I made arguments in good faith, I’d get a hearing. It’s a reasonable assumption, but it’s wrong. In five and a half years in politics up north, no one really bothered to criticize my ideas, such as they were. It was never my message that was the issue. It was always the messenger.”
"They will not attack what you say, so much as your right to say anything at all.........

He goes on to praise those that still come to work every day in the face of such abuse, which in any other place would be subject to numerous allegations of personal defamation or workplace harassment.

The worst of them—the careerists and predators—you find in all professions. The best of them were a credit to democracy. They knew the difference between an adversary and an enemy, knew when to take half a loaf and when to insist on the whole bakery, knew when to trust their own judgment and when to listen to the people.
As I learned while watching wiser colleagues than I in a democratic legislature, it is really something in life to be utterly disabused about human motive, venality, capacity for double-crossing, and yet still come to work every day, trying to get something done.”

I start to wonder who would subject themselves to these working conditions and is this why we have so few honest, principled and truly dedicated MPs in the house. Unless you are one of those people, as Mr Ignatieff puts it, 'with outsized ambition, have a sense of vocation, a belief that something must be done, that you can make life better for a lot of people' why would you bother. Or is it just a place for those with an overblown desire for glory and fame?

Certainly the quality of the leadership, the respect for both democracy and opposing views, and in many cases the honesty of those charged with representing us in the Legislature seems to be diminishing daily. I can only hope that Stephen Lewis's 'possibility' becomes to pass – but somehow I dont see it happening any time soon, if ever!

Somewhere in my soul, I cherish the possibility of a return to a vibrant democracy, where equality is the watchword, where people of different ideological conviction have respect for each other, where policy is debated rather than demeaned, where the great issues of the day are given thoughtful consideration, where Canada’s place on the world stage is seen as principled and laudatory, where human rights for all is the emblem of a decent civilized society.” Stephen Lewis

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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Electioneering on our Dime?

We all know that we are inundated with TV advertisements promoting the Harper “government” in the guise of telling citizens about their “plan” or some other “program” non of which actually tell the watcher anything that will help them actually access said programs. Does anyone actually go to that web page they promote? We now know how much they intend to spend (or more accurately how much they will admit to) and it is over $60 MILLION allotted thus far. This includes $10 million to advertise its annual “economic action plan,” $8 million to promote its “better jobs” program, $5 million promoting services to veterans and $5.5 million to combat illicit drug use and $7-million for the Canada 150 ad blitz Remember this is all for 'advertising' NOT programs or department bugets.
We also know that all departments other than the PMO have taken serious cuts in their annual budgets (and perhaps some of them did need to find “efficiencies”) but we now find out that the Harper regime has found a way to find even more money to try to buy off the voters in 2015. They simply have not authorized previously budgeted spending as it came up for final approval and then taken the “surplus” and stashed it back in their election goodies account.
Public Accounts documents reveal the Conservatives have held onto more than $7 billion in approved spending across a spectrum of departments. Since 2007-2008, the average amount that the government has underspent is 23 per cent of the allocated funds. Over the last three decades, the average was 2 per cent.

Public Accounts of Canada for 2013-2014 reveal for the third consecutive year, spending on military equipment, weapons systems and infrastructure declined significantly.
That spending is down roughly $1 billion from a high point of $3.8 billion in 2010-2011.
The documents show the government failed to spend $763 million of its allocated funding this past fiscal year for those types of large-scale initiatives even as Canada flexes its military muscle overseas.
Veterans groups are responding angrily to news that the federal department responsible for their care and benefits was unable to spend upwards of $1.1 billion of its budget over seven years. This while they had no trouble spending $4 million on ads last spring to promote what it's doing with veterans.
 Almost 14% of the money that Canada’s newly amalgamated Foreign Affairs Department planned to spend alleviating poverty in poor countries in the last year has been returned, unspent, to the Finance Department.
Foreign Affairs spent just shy of $792-million on aid to low-income countries in 2013-14, but had $917-million available, leaving more than $125-million in lapsed funding.
Canada’s national security agencies failed to spend hundreds of millions of dollars from their approved budgets last year even as some push for more cash in the wake of last month’s attack on Parliament Hill, according to a review by The Globe of recently released Public Accounts figures. 
It could be said that departments being frugal in spending our tax dollars is a good thing, but when many of the essential services that these departments are providing are being cut due to funding shortages and 'surpluses' are being spent on buying votes and barraging Canadians with useless self promoting advertising and telling us that the budget will be balanced just before the election then it must be questioned.
When the Liberals take power in the Fall I predict that they will find it is all smoke and mirrors, any 'surplus' will have been spent on shiny goodies and there will be a substantial deficit on the books. Its all part of the Harper Regimes plan to get reelected no matter what the cost, but if they are not elected to leave any new government with little room to undo all the damage done over the last ten years.
That may not have much to do with democracy but has a lot to do with the future of Canada and the return to a parliamentary democracy and a government that works FOR the people not for themselves.

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Blind Obedience, the Tool of Tyrants

A guest post by Pamela Mac Neil

Here is how you're going to vote and here are your talking points”

On capital hill the above line is the kind of conversation, probably repeated many times, initiated by junior in the PMO's office, to Harpers backbenchers and various cabinet MP's. He/she may continue to say, the PM wants this bill passed at tomorrows question period and by the way, junior may add to the selected MP, usually a back bencher, the PM would also like you to ask this question in the House. Could the PM elaborate on "unconfirmed reports of a possible terrorist attack." There have been other scripted questions asked by various Conservative MP's that Harper has answered for the simple reason of manipulating the listening public to his agenda. This discourse usually precludes some policy or unconstitutional legislation he wants to enact. I'm sure that all departments come under Harpers thumb, but the two most troubling to me is Harpers Caucus and Cabinet. Harpers pursuit of power is not achieved, even if only some of the time, in isolation. His Caucus and Cabinet support that pursuit. They are his enablers. Caucus is supposed to hold the government to account, instead they follow orders abandoning their thinking and responsibility. The communications between the PMO and Harpers MP's has become a world of obedience and unity..

I've had a question that has bothered me for many years and I have answered it in part, but not in whole. The question is: Why do people in a free society obey? It's one thing for a person to obey in their personal life. It's another thing when people's obedience control the power of our democracy and in most cases, their decisions jeopardize the very freedom of our democracy, when these are the people who have been elected to protect our democracy. Why do MP's, some middle aged with alot of experience, obey a man like Harper. Part of the reason lies in the Evangelical Christian fundamentalists in Harpers caucus and cabinet. Anyone who's beliefs are completely lacking in any evidential proof and are accepted with unquestioning compliance, have shut down their minds and are in fact opposed to critical thinking. Being an Evangelical Christian does not require independent thought, but it does require obedience. What they call morals is simply blind obedience to commands. Obeying Harper is easy, because it's already a part of their identity. There are other reasons that MP's who are not religious or at the very least are not religious fundamentalists also obey, but how can any of these MP's not know that Harper is a dictatorial wanna be. This for me is what is so disturbing, that they do know that Harper is a tyrant and they still support his authoritarian agenda through their obedience. Why would free men and woman vote Canada into a dictatorship, ruled by a man whose total sense of worth is defined by how much power he has.

It is these MP's who in their support literally provide the power to Harper. They operate on one principle, obedience. They have given Harper the power to punish or reward them and our democracy is being destroyed so that MP's may have a chance to rise preferably to a cabinet post. They do not achieve success in their careers by merit, but rather by pull. Why does it not matter to these men and woman that they along with Harper, those we have entrusted with power, have perverted that power into tyranny. People who live under existing dictatorships obey out of fear, fear of imprisonment or death by the state. In a free society like Canada what are these MP's afraid of? What will happen to them if they choose to say no to Harper? Could it be that they are quite prepared to live in a dictatorship of there own making, under the rule of Harper? They cannot, not know, that with the present regime, that this is where Canada is heading. The power that these MP's are helping to create, if continued, will totally disempower the Canadian people. Power not supported by a nation is gotten through deceit, founded mainly in secrecy. Obedience to a political authority is voluntary slavery.

I watch from a distance because as a Canadian who is not a member of Stephen Harpers base even though I am one of the majority in Canada, I am not considered, nor am I included, along with the rest of the majority, as an integral part of the governmental process. Everything with Harper is at arms length, there are no close-up views. Regardless of the distance I have to remind myself that I am watching, almost daily, the govenment of the Canada, literally dismantling our democracy. I sometimes wish there was an alarm I could set off that would warn Canadians of the impending disaster. In the culture of Harpers government there is no negotiations, no discussions, only "grinding mediocrity" and conformity . It is a place where obedience is highly valued and bowed subservience is the position of the day. It is a place where thinking and confidence go to die. For the Canadian who is indifferent to this dictatorial power that is unfolding in our present government, I would suggest that you take a closer look at Harper and the people in his government, people who have targeted you as the enemy, so you will know how small, how mindless, how worthless, how insignifigant the people in this regime, those who you have sacrificed your freedom to, truly are, also you have not given away your freedom to a powerful, influential dynamic leader, but to a corner thug. Next year I will still be wondering ,in part anyway, why people in a free society obey, but I'd like to be able to add, but not the Canadian electorate in 2015. The Conservative MP's doctrine of blind obedience to Harper is a doctrine of despotism and has no place in Canadian society.

Below I have included several quotes from Pierre Trudeau purely for contrast.

"Let us overthrow the totems, break the taboo's, or better still, let us consider them cancelled. Coldly, let us be intelligent."

"I speak of a country where every person is free to fulfill himself or herself to the utmost, unhindered by the arbritrary actions of government."

"There is no such thing as a model or ideal Canadian. What would be more absurd than the concept of an "all Canadian" boy or girl? A society which emphasizes uniformity is one which creates intolerance and hate."

"The attainment of a just society is the cherished hope of civilized men."

Pamela Mac Neil's main interest is studying how  ideas from philosophy and history shape politics, particularly Canadian politics.

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Sunday, November 16, 2014

A Stark Contrast.

I dont often comment upon the daily actions of politicians on this blog preferring to look at the broader picture of how their actions affect our democracy but one recent report realy got my attention in its stark contrast between a potential leader and the current one.
The way in which our 'leaders' interact with our local and national media, be they the press, television new outlets or simply citizen bloggers has much to do with democratic freedom and our need to know and understand what 'government' is doing on our behalf.

This item from Matt Guerin outlines the contrast.....
“As we know, Stephen Harper has such tight restrictions at his events, only card-carrying Conservatives with long party histories can get in.   No one except the most elite gets anywhere close to him.  And most definitely, uninvited guests or average Canadians get zero chance to interact with him, let alone speak to the crowd.   It's probably been almost 10 years since Harper had any meaningful and unscripted interactions with average Canadians who weren't pre-screened for party loyalty.”

He quotes from the CBC article
“Meanwhile, yesterday in Toronto at the Reference Library, Justin Trudeau was holding an event that was briefly interrupted by some protesters carrying a banner against the Energy East pipeline.  Trudeau may not share the protesters' position on the issue, but rather than ignore them and wait for RCMP to tackle them and remove them (to audience applause from Conservative party seals), Trudeau invited these Canadians to state their positions for all to hear and even called for the audience to applaud them.”

Now I can hear Harpers 'followers' saying that security concerns negate allowing 'protesters' to attend one of his public appearances and that may be true to a point. It does not however account for the accredited press being unable to ask any but 'approved' questions, and only 3 at that, on the rare occasions when such an appearance is not just a 'photo op' where no questions are permitted. It does not account for major announcements made with great fanfare (but no questions permitted) at staged and carefully choreographed 'events' or at some foreign event rather than in the House of Commons in front of his peers.

That many of these expensive staged 'events' are paid for out of the PMOs ever increasing 'advertizing' budget, i,e. Taxpayers money, adds further insult to his refusal to to be 'open and honest' with the press, the public, and even our elected representatives in the House. It is the outward symptom of a far greater malaise, one in which respect for any opinion but his own is missing, where parliamentary oversight is just an annoying itch to be ignored or smothered under bullshit.

It is in fact the outward signs of a want-to-be-dictator who insists upon total control over every piece of information issuing from not only the mouths of his herd of sheep but from all government departments, committees , researchers and diplomats. First control the message then control the people!

So I applaud Mr Trudeau in his effort to be open and available to the press and the public, it may lead to some difficult moments but the difference between hiding in the closet (both figuratively and literally) and standing proud before Canadian citizens is one to be encouraged and talked about.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Democracy and Freedom in Harperland

A guest post by Pamela Mac Neil
There have been Canadian Prime Ministers I have disliked and Prime Ministers whose ideas I have disagreed with. I have never however, with any of these Prime Ministers, worried about losing our democracy and consequently our freedom. That is until Stephen Harper as our PM was given a majority government in 2011. I knew what he was capable of before he got his majority, but I never worried as long as he had minority governments. When he got his majority, I took notice and proceeded to study him closely on a daily basis. I have concluded that he is a dictator in the making and as everyone knows a dictator needs a dictatorship, either by inheriting a country as an already fully formed dictatorship or creating the country he governs into a dictatorship.

I'll say it at the outset. Canada now has an Evangelical fundamentalist Right Wing Tyrant as it's Prime Minister. By opening the government to the religious right the new religious ideology comes from the increasing presence of evangelical christians in the capital. Harper has also allowed his evangelical christian MP's to be more vocal, letting them test public response with private member bills. Another spokesman for the christian right is Timothy Bloedow, the chief aide to Saskatchewan's MP Maurice Vellacott and owner of website Christian Governance.ca who openly calls for the establishment of a Christian Theocracy. As the PM sends his blessings to prayer rallies where evangelical christians holding on tightly to Canadian flags call for a bible-based theocracy , he now signs off his throne speeches with the blessing "God Bless Canada." While Harpers U.S. Senators and congressmen christian compatriots in the right wing Republican/tea-party are openly vocal about their evangelical christian beliefs, Harper tries to keep his beliefs under wraps. There's a very good reason for this. The majority of Canadians are profoundly uneasy about people of faith taking over the reigns of government. So like everything else Harper does, he tries to practice and align his evangelical beliefs with policy in secrecy.

With his ever growing enemies list of unions, scientists, environmentalist, First Nations people, certain charities, veterans and journalists, his number one enemy, the one at the top of his list is the Canadian people, i.e. Canadians that are not of his base, but are in fact the majority. These Canadians are his biggest threat. He does not communicate either through the press or directly with the majority of Canadians because he knows that we disagree with 99% of his programs, policies and legislation. He proceeds to shove these programs, policies and his unconstitutional legislation through for the benefit of his base, giving the rest of Canadians the finger. 99% of his legislation that the Supreme Court has struck down involves a violation of Canadian rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Now why would the Prime Minister of Canada create legislation that violates or takes away the rights and freedoms of Canadians, the very people that have given him a mandate to govern? Because he can!

Harper does not have a vision, he has an agenda, an authoritarian agenda. Stephen Harper does not hold ideas, he holds beliefs. Ideas are formed by integrating the knowledge derived from the facts of reality. Beliefs are assumed truths held by dogma and faith while avoiding the facts of reality. Science represents knowledge. Harpers muzzling of scientists and defunding of scientific research that does not support his political agenda prevents government scientists from communicating to the public their scientific findings. Scientists have also complained that they have been asked to exclude or alter technical information on government documents for political reasons. The majority of scientists have said that their ability to develop programs, policy and law based on scientific evidence has been compromised because of Harpers government political interference. The need of Harpers tight fisted control of any information resulting from scientific analysis is exercised through communication specialists within the government. They have enforced unity on messaging. That messaging is political not fact base. Imagine Harpers minions, some , maybe most evangelical christians marching to Harpers tune of controlling all scientific information and dictating this to the men and woman whose lifes work depends on evidence based scientific knowledge.

The threat to our democracy and freedom does not come from an external enemy such as ISIS or any other terrorist group, but rather internally from our authoritarian Prime Minister. This is a man who is systematically dismantling and usurping our various democratic institutions. The Harper government treats Parliament with complete contempt. Parliament whose constitutional duty is to hold the government and executive accountable, but the institutions of parliament like the House of Commons,the government caucus and Senate of Canada are completely under executive control. Nothing happens in parliament without the PMO's knowledge, approval or non-approval or direct command.

Harpers control and interference has radically changed the Canadian Parliament from serving crucial checks on government power to becoming a servile entity in carrying out Harpers authoritarian agenda. Along with this is Harpers corrupt and highly incompetent behaviour when implementing many policies like the F-35's, the Senate Scandal, Veteran Affairs, The grain transportation fiasco that has cost western farmers billions, The foreign workers debacle, The ridding of the long form consensus with Stat's Canada, The China Trade deal that violates Canadians rights, omnibus legislation, the unquestioned support of Israel's slaughter of Palestinians, the income-splitting tax break that benefits only 15% of Canadians, , the permanent campaigning, the unsubstantiated attack ads, the smear campaigns, real job loss since 2008, adding $176,400,000,000 to the national debt, on and on. We will be hearing more propaganda, spin and outright lying from him as we head toward the 2015 election. The dictatorial nature of Harpers ruling involves an in depth study, but it is a study in tyranny. I have just shown the tip of the iceberg, there is so much more to be said. Harper does not just want complete control of his caucus, he wants total obedience. This is also what he wants from Canadians. In 2015 if he gets another majority, the gloves are coming off! He will both tighten and expand his power and he will do it more openly. This dogmatic, mediocre, insignificant man wants to be the dictatorial leader of Canada!! Wake up Canada!!

Pamela Mac Neil's main interest is studying how  ideas from philosophy and history shape politics, particularly Canadian politics.

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Sunday, November 9, 2014

Lest We Forget

Indeed we must not forget, not just the terrible toll that war takes upon those who engage in it both directly and indirectly but we must also not forget what the second world war was about and how it all started.

I must give a brief history lesson here of the period BEFORE the war in Europe which in my view is important to understand when talking about democracy as I do in this blog. It all started with one megalomaniac who was the leader of a political party and was elected to a MINORITY government in 1933, that he was arrested and found guilty of treason some 10 years earlier for an attempted coup did not reduce his popular support. Despite all the resources of big business and the state being thrown behind the Nazis' campaign to achieve saturation coverage all over Germany and “a combination of terror, repression and propaganda being mobilized in every... community, large and small, across the land." they did not gain a majority in the election. But they never the less managed to pass The Enabling Act giving them de-facto absolute power.. The Orwellian named "Law to Remedy the Distress of People and Reich" gave Hitler the power to enact laws without the involvement of the German legislature.

In his speech regarding this legislation Hitler said “By its decision to carry out the political and moral cleansing of our public life, the Government is creating and securing the conditions for a really deep and inner religious life. The advantages for the individual which may be derived from compromises with atheistic organizations do not compare in any way with the consequences which are visible in the destruction of our common religious and ethical values. The Government will treat all other denominations with objective and impartial justice. “ We all know how that worked out dont we!
It must be noted that prior to and during this 'vote' of the legislature the various opposition party members were either excluded or 'intimidated' by Hitlers 'followers'. The point here is that no matter how brought about Hitler was given the legal right to govern as a dictator by the very legislature that he superseded and once he had that power could pass 'laws' that suited his purpose without interference.

So as we think of those who fought and died , as some will say “for our democracy”, let us not forget how fragile that difficult to define but essential Canadian value is, and how quickly it can be subverted from within the very system it supports, and once passed how difficult it is to change laws that reduce the ability of legislators and citizens to keep a balance between citizen rights and state powers.

Lest We Forget.........

Why should we be aware of this possibility? These quotes from Lawrence Martin, new book Harperland: The Politics of Control give us a little insight......

Stephen Harper is probably the most dangerous human being ever elevated to power in Canada,” Farley Mowat

Parliament can hardly be weakened any more than it already is. Harper can’t go much further without making the institution dysfunctional. He is trying to control every aspect of House business. In fact, it will have to be returned to its former state by someone if we are to have a democracy.”
Former Commons Speaker Peter Milliken

Canadians are sleepwalking through dramatic social, economic and political changes surreptitiously being implemented by a government abusing omnibus bills and stifling public and parliamentary debate,” .........
Mr. Harper has not played within the rules. Having attained absolute power, he has absolutely abused that power to the maximum.”
Former information commissioner Robert Marleau

Then there is this from Peter H. Russell, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of Toronto.

Since gaining a parliamentary majority, the Harper Government’s disdain for parliamentary democracy has become painfully evident. In a minority government situation that disdain was barely held in check. But in 2011, when our first-past-the-post system handed the Conservatives a parliamentary majority, the Conservative leadership was free to give full rein to its contempt for parliament.”

Constitutional expert Peter Russell

And finally this from Green Party Leader Elizabeth May in her book Who We Are: Reflections on My Life and Canada.

Our system is not supposed to look like a dictatorship. It does not involve central control by a prime minister's office. It does not involve non-stop partisan campaigning in a permanent state of heightened electoral warfare in the absence of governing. Democracy should look a lot like the people who elected their government.”

And this.....

We are on a slippery slope to the loss of our democracy, Power is now so concentrated in the Prime Minister’s Office and its unelected staff members that Canadian democracy already resembles a dictatorship punctuated by elections.”
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May

Lest We Forget.........

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Sunday, November 2, 2014

Casualty of War?

This week has seen a multitude of individuals expressing concern that the Harper Regime will use the so called “terrorist attack” upon parliament to further increase the ability of the RCMP and CSIS to investigate Canadian citizens whilst reducing the already minimal oversight over their activities.

There is little doubt that any country must protect its citizens, infrastructure and institutions from those who would use violence and destruction for whatever reason. To do so without restraints, without recourse for the accused or without checks upon those charged with this power is however very dangerous for our democracy, finding the right balance is the difficulty. It is to be hoped that a full and open debate in the House of Commons will take place on ANY changes proposed in reaction to this isolated event, that no closure upon said debate takes place and that the Con Regime does not use their majority to 'force' through flawed or inappropriate legislation as is their usual way of operating.

A few clips from various news articles in the past week perhaps put things in perspective......
As the government moves to strengthen the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, two of five chairs sit empty on the watchdog agency that oversees the spy service.

The Security Intelligence Review Committee says it faced "significant delays" in receiving requested documentation over the last year and had to press CSIS to obtain complete and consistent answers to several questions. In its annual report to Parliament, the review committee — which has a right to see all CSIS records — says it was "seriously misled" by the spy service in one complaint investigation.

Legislation just introduced proposes to “Allow the use of evidence gleaned from confidential sources without having to identify them in court proceedings, even to the judge.”
The proposed legislation amends the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act, as well as the Access to Information Act and the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act.

Canada’s privacy watchdog believes police and national security agencies have sufficient powers to deal with the threat of domestic and international terrorism. Federal Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien opposes giving security agenices any more power, as "I think already many tools were provided to the police, including preventative arrests."

Information Commissioner Suzanne Legault pointed to an “information asymmetry” when it comes to national security measures — the government has all the relevant information, and Canadians are asked to approve of new measures without that information.

The Privacy and Information Commissioners of Canada call on the federal Government:

•To adopt an evidence-based approach as to the need for any new legislative  proposal granting additional powers for intelligence and law enforcement agencies;
•To engage Canadians in an open and transparent dialogue on whether new measures are required, and if so, on their nature, scope, and impact on rights and freedoms;
To ensure that effective oversight be included in any legislation establishing additional powers for intelligence and law enforcement agencies. Canadians both expect and are entitled to equal protection for their privacy and access rights and for their security. We must uphold these fundamental rights that lie at the heart of Canada’s democracy.”

Harper said. “....... more often than not, security and rights find themselves on the same side of the ledger and Canadians do not have effective rights unless we can ensure their security. And that is what we intend to do.”

As always Elizabeth May strikes the right ballance

All of us who work day to day with the guards from the House of Commons Security team will never take their presence for granted again. I do not believe the gunman can be described as a “terrorist.” It was the act of a deeply disturbed man with mental health issues and drug addictions. But while we should not associate the attack with the word “terrorism,” we should mark the heroic multiple acts of bravery that morning.

If Democracy is a casualty of the “war” on terror then the “terrorists” have already won.

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