Monday, October 12, 2015

Democracy 2015: Who To Vote for in Canada's Federal Election?

I couldn’t wait for this election. Stephen Harper has taken past Liberal power-concentration moves and put afterburners on them, coalescing power into his hands and the PMO under his direction. When, as a teen or young adult, I used to cynically opine we had five-year elected dictatorships, I had no idea just how democratic and a free-for-all of free voices Canada’s late 20th-century Parliament was compared to what it has become. As far as I’m concerned, the single most important issue facing Canada is her democracy.

Our democracy underpins every aspect of our lives.

We citizens are supposed to protect it. But successive elections have led to MPs becoming trained seals – to the point where Tony Clement’s Twitter account went from entertaining to more boring than paint drying under, one presumes, PMO orders – thankfully, he’s slowly reverting to form. Worse, after 2011, one wonders if Cabinet has any say in government matters, and certainly we learnt that the Senate majority no longer retained its independence as part of the Senate’s sober, second thought role but jumped to Harper’s commands. If ever there was a reason for Senate Reform, that was it.
 
We Canadians haven’t protected our democracy. It’s now resuscitation time!

Bill C-51 cuts at the heart of Canada. What are we protecting if we kill our democracy to protect it? The heart of a free democracy is anonymity and privacy. Canada has faced terrorists (remember the FLQ?) and wars before, and we survived them. We even emerged from the Cold War intact. And we thrived after each danger passed. Why do we need to become essentially a police state now? And if we do, haven’t the terrorists won by turning us into them: a bunch of quislings who genuflect to the threatening cries of authoritarian, rich men?

Our first past the post system and the reversal of former Prime Minister Chretien’s party funding initiative means that we have a minority of votes ruling the majority. Canada was founded on compromise and coalition. We historically excel at that, and we haven’t yet fallen down in division at the drop of a pin, unlike others. So why have we become so afraid of coalitions? Because some man, wearing the guise of PM, told us to be?

We Canadian citizens need each one of our votes to count. To do that in the modern era, we need democratic reform.

Corporations have become increasingly powerful and seemingly rule governments these days. It’s not like we haven’t seen this in the past. I believe the 19th century saw rich men ruling through politicians; but then their monopolies were broken up, and government became more reflective of the people not the few. However, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, under the guise of free trade, is going to bind our governments to corporate demands. Although our media have focused on the dairy and auto sectors, these are the free-trade fronts of a corporatization and criminalization deal that will affect everyone from Asian countries trying to reduce their smoking rates to us in Canada trying to afford medicines to Canadians trying to become active, cutting-edge members of the Information Age.
Confirmed: 20-year copyright term extensions, new rules that would induce ISPs to block websites, and criminal penalties for the circumvention of digital locks.” openmedia.ca, 9 October 2015
As an author who rather doesn’t like people ripping off her work, I don’t see the point of copyright law that extends 70 years after my death. Once I’m dead, it will no longer affect me how my work is demolished, distorted, or used. I do think copyright 50 years after my death, as it is under Canadian law, is sufficient. Generous, even.

No entity should be blocking websites. We frown on China doing that, so why would it be OK at a corporation’s demand? That’s antithetical to democracy and rather like one group of people burning books because they don’t like what another group of people are doing – and having the law help them set the fire.
Also, as an author who wants readers to read her works as easily as they do print books, I object to digital locks. The people who’re interested in pirating my stuff won’t be deterred by a lock and everyone else is pissed off at the restrictions they impose. The only reason I see for the use of a digital lock is with library ebooks so that they will expire automatically. As for suggesting that breaking copyright is criminal . . . well, that’s a first! And dangerous. When we criminalize behaviour that has never been criminal before, we go down the road of Prohibition, one we’re still mired in when it comes to “illegal” drugs. (Only Portugal has gotten itself fully out of that muck and is benefitting as a result.)

Repeal of Bill C-51, exposing TPP to the light and renegotiating so that it is strictly about trade and will not put corporations above governments, and democratic reform so that Parliament rules our democracy, not one man who leads a bulging office of boys “in short pants,” are what I’m looking for in choosing where to mark my X on the ballot.

The only two parties that meets my criteria are the NDP and the Green Party.
And one last thing: we vote for one person to represent us in our Parliament. We do not directly elect our Prime Minister. Once I’d narrowed down the parties to those who will resuscitate our democracy, it now comes down to which of their candidates in my riding will best represent me.

Choose your MP wisely.

No comments: