September 30, 2009

It's Time for Conservatives to Show Respect and Honour

Accountability and transparency are probably two of the most important facets of democracy. Without either of these democracy really isn't a system that is 'for the people, by the people'. Voting for and selecting our representatives that sit in parliament is only one part of the equation. It has to be a reciprocal relationship.

The people give its representatives power to make decisions on our behalf and in return the representative needs to this job honestly and openly so that the people know they are doing the job they were put in power to do. To not respect what this role means, to not be honourable enough to allow for accountability and transparency in your decision is to not respect democracy nor the people. And if that's the case then the elected official should lose any claim or ability to be in power.

To continue on, without being fully open and without respect for those you govern over, is to do so with out ethics. In such an event, the only option is to return to the people and seek re-election but not before giving full disclosure of what has transpired within the government during your tenure.

Personally, I have little issue with going into an election. My only concern is that full disclosure has not been and will not be given prior to that call. There are many questions beginning to arise from the opposition Liberals, from Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page, from independent economists, the banks, their own members, etc. dealing with both the running of and the numbers within the infrastructure/stimulus program and with how advertising is being run and tendered for government programs. With so many black holes being exposed, accountability and transparency has become more necessary than ever with the current government. And yet, all those questions refuse to be addressed by the Conservatives.

Is this a surprise? Not likely. Many members of the CPC were also members of the past Ontario PC government that also did not respect our democracy and were exposed as having applied 'creative' accounting to the provincial finances. Not only that but the current government has obfuscated and interfered with PBO Page when he has attempted to shed light in the darkened areas, which only goes to raising suspicions further.

What else is concerning is that in spite of the Conservatives' claims that an election is unnecessary, there does seem to be some effort on their part to force one anyway. Why the need to go into an election now? The simple answer is likely that the Conservatives feel they can achieve a majority. But if your dead set against it, as you claim, why would you want one? To achieve a majority so that accountability and transparency can be further restricted.

Like with all serious problems and possible scandals, the truth eventually gets out. If you're in a minority it almost definitely spells doom for your party. However, if you're in a majority you can continue to tighten your grip around information and almost impede any exposure with impunity. Chretien was guilty of this when it came to Adscam when he shut down parliament right before the report was to be released, delaying it. Calling an election may have the same effect but having a majority government will allow the Conservatives to continue governing even in the event all the concerns about 'Shovelgate' or the advertising programs turn out to be true.

It's a cowardly action to take. It also flies in the face of democracy and would expose this government as having little respect for the people or the institutions it governs for. If there are no problems with the Infrastructure program or the way advertising is being run, etc. then there should be no problems with responding, honestly, to the concerns of so many and allow full disclosure. To avoid being accountable gives credence to the criticisms and gives further warrant to the call for review.

The only option at this point is to allow, without interference, PBO Page and our Auditor General, Sheila Fraser, to conduct full inquiries prior to any election. Let Canadians go into an election armed with facts and make a decision based on those facts. Otherwise, to deny Canadians this is to show little respect for democracy and the Canadian public.

September 23, 2009

Stephen Harper; A Colonial Mind

"At the core of the colonial mindset is its self-destructive logic. It is unconscious nihilism. Insecurity often drives an elite to believe itself incapable of taking the lead in its country's own affairs. For reassurance it seeks out and clings to some outside force, thus hoping for special consideration. Consideration for what purpose? To provide a direction and, as if by association, a certain importance. Typically this is called a 'special relationship' by the insecure party. As for the outside force, it rarely bothers to call such a relationship anything at all, except when poked by the weaker party seeking more reassurance.

And when the much-hoped-for special consideration does not materialize, the insecure party is confirmed in its fears. The false hope for security becomes the mechanism for turning these fears into a reality."

~ John Ralston Saul, A Fair Country (pg.250)

Stephen Harper's entire tenure has been about appeasing someone or something else. Whether it has been the U.S., the West, his past professors and mentors, etc. Harper has done little for the good of Canada and even less to make Canada a leader in any area. Rather, it could be argued he has negotiated away and intentionally withdrawn Canada's capacity to be a player on a world stage.

This shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. Much of his work prior to being a legit politician was about how Canada shouldn't do certain things or that Canada was doing to much and as such he viewed Canada as weak, a "welfare state" and "second-tier socialist country". Never was his work about how strong Canada had become in any area or recognizing that Canada was succeeding in many areas, both social and fiscal. That the very programs and ideals that he viewed negatively were actually contributing to the strength of Canada, both within and outside of the borders.

Even after joining the House of Commons, Harper has continued to look down on Canada. When the government of the day refused to enter the Iraq war, Harper ran to the US media to proclaim his support. And during his tenure as Prime Minister he sold-out our industries to foreign interests, whether it was softwood or high-tech, etc. and undermined many contemporary policies that deal with the environment, women, minorities and so forth. At any point if there was leadership to be found or had for Canada, Harper has allowed it to simply slip away and let others take over.

What is it that has Harper so fearful of being a leader within Canada and allowing Canada to be a leader within the world? What is so wrong with Canada standing up for its citizens and values that both have gotten Canada where it is and made it significant and unique in the world?

It seems Harper is stuck in a colonial mindset. He seems to beleive Canada can't be a leader. That it can't stand up for itself. To him it's just Canada, a provincial country that is meek in comparison to the great powers. And as such it should behave accordingly.

As a conservative Prime Minister he has also shown these tendencies when it comes to running the government. He's constantly playing politics rather than governing. Willing to cater directly to his core supporters, saying one thing in public only to contradict himself in private. He'll even as going as far as fashioning policies to favour his base (environment, employment insurance).

It's easy to say that he's just power hungry, which there seems to be little doubt anyway, but it has to be more than just power. With power comes real responsibility and certain privileges. Both of these Harper has shied from. Really, he's afraid; Afraid of having to put himself or Canada in the spotlight. He's afraid of taking risks both personally and as a country. He's afraid of possibly having to truly lead.

If he wasn't afraid then the Harper in private would also be the Harper in public. He would show confidence in his ideas, the policies he believes in and in the strength of this nation. He would stand up for Canada and therefore have Canada stand up for itself. But being afraid at home means Canada has become afraid outside. So instead he plays politics, rather than govern, because he fears what might be and what is. He would rather sell himself and Canada out to others in hopes that they will do something for him and us.

US not following the rules when it comes to softwood lumber? Sell out the industry. Maybe they'll return the favour later and make him look good... Oops, that didn't work.

Climate change a global issue? Well, release several plans that take more effort to print and publicize than it does to understand how little they do. But don't forget to make sure the tar sands get more favourable terms. And internationally, let's disrupt any possible progress and shake hands with other hold outs. They'll thank us later...Well, that didn't work out for us either, since all the other deniers are now from power.

How much longer can this 'please notice me' attitude continue? As long as Harper and the Conservatives are in power is the simplest answer. Canada has lost face internationally in almost every area since Harper has become Prime Minister. Our global economic prowess has decreased significantly, it is now common policy to abandon our citizens in times of need, and so on. All just so Harper can tread lightly and buddy up to those with ideas and with the courage to lead and hope that they take us along with them.

Canada wasn't built on the attitude of being subservient or new but shy student in the class. Canada has a long history of stepping out of the box, building consensus, taking risks. Generally speaking, that is how we got to where are today. Those leaders in the past that also played into a colonial frame of mind, didn't last very long and are even easily forgotten by students of Canadian history. Our founding fathers were all strong, proud Canadians who had a very clear idea of what they wanted and believed Canada could be. It didn't involve hiding in the corner, afraid of others. It meant standing up for your convictions and what's right. That's what Canada needs from its leaders and the effects are obvious when it's absent.

September 02, 2009

An Open Letter to All Residents of Nunavut: Regarding the Illegal Nomination of Dennis Patterson as Senator for Nunavut

The following is an open letter from a family member of mine who resides in Nunavut. At issue is the concern that Dennis Patterson, who Harper recently nominated to the Senate, isn't in full compliance with the conditions of being a senator. While Patterson may allegedly own property in Nunavut, he himself considers himself a resident of Vancouver, which we all know is quite a distance from any town or city in Nunavut.

If Ontario were only represented by two people within the government - one Member of Parliament and one Senator - I'd definitely want to make sure they were there to represent my interests. Unfortunately, this is another case where one man's personal politics have interfered with sound judgement and the operational purpose of the government and with that in mind has nominated what seems to amount to another 'yes' man, much like the majority of his Senate and public service appointments.

Read the letter below and leave some comments or pass it along to those that need to read this.

_____________________________________________________________________________________

With the retirement of the Hon. Willy Adams, Senator for Nunavut, the Prime Minister had an option to nominate a new individual to represent Nunavut in the Senate. According to the Government's own website, http://www.parl.gc.ca/information/about/process/Senate/Senatetoday/sens-e.html, there are a few requirements to be eligible for this nomination. The most important of these requirements is that the nominee must reside in the province or territory that they are nominated to represent. How, then, is it possible that Dennis Patterson, a self described resident of Vancouver, British Columbia, has been nominated to represent Nunavummiut, and receive the $130,000/year salary and all associated benefits that go along with this appointment?

Mr. Patterson has had a long and storied history of political service in the north, but this is not the issue here, nor is his race, which has been brought up on many news website's comment boards. Quite simply, he is not a resident of Nunavut, and therefor is not eligible to be nominated for this position.

The facts at the heart of this problem are simple. Nunavut is a vast territory, with many challenges and issues. Our entire territory has only 2 representatives at the Federal level, one MP, and one Senator. We have the right to elect our MP, and the right to be represented by a resident of Nunavut in the Senate, which is guaranteed by the rules governing Senate appointments. Who better to represent us, than someone who lives here? Prime Minister Harper seems to have completely ignored his legal obligation to nominate a Nunavummiut for this Senate appointment, and feels that no one in Nunavut is capable of representing us. How would the residents of Ontario feel if 50% of their representatives in the Federal Government were from Vancouver? Imagine the uproar in Vancouver if half of B.C.'s representatives were from Toronto? This would be front page news around the world.

During the last Territorial election, several candidates were disqualified as they could not prove their residency in the territory. The most widely publicized case was that of Jack Anawak, who fought the decision in court, only to have his name withheld from the ballot. If someone such as Mr. Anawak is unable to run for a seat in the Territorial Legislature, why are we forced to accept an outsider as our Senator?

Unfortunately, many people don't follow these issues that can so drastically affect them, allowing this Prime Minister to effectively sneak a fast one by us. This cannot be allowed to happen. The Nunavut Government has expressed no opinion whatsoever, and there is no way NTI will speak out against this appointment, as Mr. Patterson is currently one of their chief negotiators working with the Federal Government to implement the Land Claim Agreement. There was a short, cursory response from NTI's James Eetoolook a few days ago, but nothing coming close to the position that should be taken up by all residents of Nunavut. Seeing as how Mr. Patterson had such a large role in the election of the Hon. Leona Aglukkaq, and the fact that her boss is the one who made this appointment, I believe that any complaints to her will effectively fall on deaf ears.

We need to speak out, and have our voices heard on this issue. I implore you, Mr. Prime Minister, rethink your nomination, and appoint a resident of Nunavut to represent us in the Upper House.

For further info: The Canadian Constitution Act states the following:

Part V 42: (1) An amendment to the Constitution of Canada in relation to the following matters may be made only in accordance with subsection 38(1): (a) the principle of proportionate representation of the provinces in the House of Commons prescribed by the Constitution of Canada; (b) the powers of the Senate and the method of selecting Senators; (c) the number of members by which a province is entitled to be represented in the Senate and the residence qualifications of Senators; (d) subject to paragraph 41(d), the Supreme Court of Canada; (e) the extension of existing provinces into the territories; and (f) notwithstanding any other law or practice, the establishment of new provinces.

38.1 states:(1) An amendment to the Constitution of Canada may be made by proclamation issued by the Governor General under the Great Seal of Canada where so authorized by (a) resolutions of the Senate and House of Commons; and (b) resolutions of the legislative assemblies of at least two-thirds of the provinces that have, in the aggregate, according to the then latest general census, at least fifty per cent of the population of all the provinces.

The current criteria stipulate that Senators must reside in the province or territory that they represent, therefor, for the Prime Minister's nomination to stand, there must be a resolution passed by the Senate and the House of Commons, PLUS, resolutions from two thirds of the provinces or territories of Canada, and their total populations must represent at least half the population of the country.

Quotes from people smarter than me...

"If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich" ~ JFK

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. " ~ Martin Luther King Jr.

"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. " ~ Benjamin Franklin

"First it is necessary to stand on your own two feet. But the minute a man finds himself in that position, the next thing he should do is reach out his arms. " ~ Kristin Hunter

"When you're a mayor and you have a problem you blame the provincial government. If you are provincial government and you have a problem you blame the federal government. We don't blame the Queen any more, so once in a while we might blame the Americans." ~ Jean Chretien

"Which is ideology? Which not? You shall know them by their assertion of truth, their contempt for considered reflection, and their fear of debate." ~ John Ralston Saul

"It is undoubtedly easier to believe in absolutes, follow blindly, mouth received wisdom. But that is self-betrayal." ~ John Ralston Saul

"Everybody dies, Tracey. Someone's carrying a bullet for you right now, doesn't even know it. The trick is to die of old age before it finds you." ~ Cpt. Malcolm Reynolds (Firefly, Episode 12)

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