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EDMONTON, AB Aug 24, 2015/ Troy Media/ – It has been said that Stephen Harper and his Conservative government is the most controlling and the least tolerant of dissent in the Western world.
Nowadays, Canadian MPs are little more than show dogs. They’re groomed by their political masters, told what to wear, scripted in what they say, and are herd-like in their voting record. If a Conservative member of parliament has the audacity to rise at Question Period, or speak out in debate, everything they say has to be cleared first by the boss.
Ironically, Canadian parliamentary rules are derived from same historical sources as the British and Australian parliaments. Yet MPs in those countries are much more freethinking and independent than Canadians.
What’s wrong with Canadians?
Too polite for our own good
It’s a bit of a cliché, but Canadians are characteristically polite and deferential to authority, unwilling to make a scene in public. While these traits make Canadians good travelling companions, they are contributing to the death of democracy in Canada.
Donald Savoie is the Canada Research Chair in Public Administration and Governance at the University of Moncton. He wrote the book on the dangers of concentrating political power in Canada. And what does he have to say about our present state of affairs? “Canadians are paying a high price . . . we’re in danger of becoming a unitary state etc. etc.” Regrettably, the problem is much worse than this and he knows it; but, it would be impolite to say so.
We could all take a few lessons in courage from Albert Camus, the Nobel Prize winning author and Resistance fighter from France. “The only way to deal with an un-free world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion. “
Stephen Harper is a dangerous bully and, clearly, Conservative MP’s are not his only prey. His government is also stomping on charities and scientists. If the views of these groups do not coincide with the government’s, they’re categorized as “domestic extremists or anti-capitalist.” In extreme cases, these groups will be scrutinized by the supposedly independent Canada Revenue Agency.
Consider the case of Franke James. Ms. James is an artist and a youngish environmental activist. Her art is fun, made for kids. A few years ago her 20-city tour of Europe was cancelled when the Canadian government became aware of her climate change views. Yes, the Canadian government scuttled her art tour. Why? Her art was “advocating a message that was contrary to the government’s policies on climate change.”
Democratic rights are not guaranteed because they’re written on paper; they must be earned the hard way each and every day. We’re not born rebellious but when faced with choices we must stand for principle.
Camus’s comfortable world collapsed when the Nazi war machine occupied Paris in the Second World War. The choices then were clear – an individual either collaborated with the puppet Vichy regime in a vain attempt at personal safety or rebelled, putting themselves, their careers, and their lives in grave peril.
Albert Camus chose: In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.
We Canadians need to discover our invincible summers or lose that which is most precious to us. Our elected representatives need to stand up; for themselves, for their constituencies, and for the freedoms so many have fought and died for. If you become a rebellious MP you’ll put your career at risk, yes. You may be expelled from caucus or denied nomination in the next election. There are real risks, real consequences. Where will you stand when destiny calls?
Intimidation only works if you let it
But MPs are not the only ones who need to stand up. Intimidation only works if individuals place their own comfort and safety above what’s right. Yes, standing up to bullies – powerful government bullies in particular – comes with a high price tag. Many worthy charitable groups could lose their funding, and that funding is critical for helping deserving and needy people. Scientists who publish uncomfortable work will have to face the possibility their careers will be endangered, their grants cut or eliminated. Much could be lost in rebellion, but more is lost in silence.
If we are to retain our dignity as a free nation each one of us will have to stand up and stare real fear in the face. Like Albert Camus we must become so absolutely free that our very existence is an act of rebellion.
Robert McGarvey is an economic historian and co-founder of the Genuine Wealth Institute, an Alberta-based think tank dedicated to helping businesses, communities and nations build communities of wellbeing.
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