“It’s not one thing that’s gone wrong; it’s a whole lot of small ones accumulating.” Sun columnist Daphne Bramham, writing on democracy in Canada.
Musings as I enter my eighth decade.
Ms. Bramham is one of numerous writers commenting on the current state of democracy in Canada. Ours is a parliamentary system of government. Under it we have rights that are protected by the Constitution, parliamentary rules, civil laws, and when all else fails, the courts.
But what happens when the guardians of our rights, the politicians governing us, think they are above the rules?
In B.C., former premier Gordon Campbell and former leader of the opposition Carole James were forced to step down because they got too big for their britches, democracy wise.
What will their successors do?
The Harper government was ousted for being in contempt of parliament, an unprecedented event in Canadian history. Previous governments were turfed because of scandals, like diddling with tax dollars to benefit themselves or their buddies. Bad enough, but Mr. Harper is in a different category. He certainly isn’t the only leader to whittle away at democracy (Remember Mr. Trudeau’s “watch me?”) but his government, among other things, kept information from parliament, disregarded parliamentary committees, had the Senate overrule a parliament decision, and shut down parliament twice when it suited its interests.
It seems bizarre to me this is happening here when all over the world people are rising up, striving to gain the freedoms we take for granted. But then, maybe it’s an age thing with me. Maybe our parliamentary system isn’t in step with the times. On the other hand, it’s said that if you put a frog in a bucket of cold water and bring it to a boil, froggie won’t realize he’s being cooked. Is our democracy being cooked slowly without our realizing it?
Diana French is a freelance columnist for the Tribune. She is a former Tribune editor, retired teacher, historian, and book author.