Thursday, May 2, 2013

Canada: A Government In Serious Decay


I am a 35 year old life-long Canadian. I can remember a time in my youth when I would excitedly travel to political events featuring either  then-current Prime Ministers or other party leaders. And I can remember a time, even though they aren't the party of my first choice currently, when I was proud of the government I had and how we were envied around the world.

That era is not just fading, it is plunging like a runaway train into a canyon. And, my friends, it is time to give a damn.

The last couple of weeks have highlighted a series of bungles, ignorance, and bullying that is almost unprecedented ever since the Conservative Party of Canada first took power in 2006. And Prime Minister Stephen Harper's ability to tightly control the country, not to mention his own party, seems to finally be falling apart.

In a recent case of friendly fire, Conservative MP's such as Michael Chong and Mark Warawa complained to Speaker of the House Andrew Scheer that they were being silenced in the House of Commons because of their controversial views. They argued that, despite their party whip's position, they are elected members and should therefore have the right to speak. Mr. Scheer did the right thing and essentially agreed with them. "The right to seek the floor at any time is the right of each individual Member of Parliament,” he said, “and is not dependent on any other Member of Parliament.”

Fast forward a couple of weeks, and a motion was put forward in the House of Commons by New Democrat MP Megan Leslie which said the following:
"That this House: (a) agree with many Canadians and the International Energy Agency that there is grave concern with the impacts of a 2 degree rise in global average temperatures; (b) condemn the lack of effective action by successive federal governments since 1998 to address emissions and meet our Kyoto commitments; and (c) call on the government to immediately table its federal climate change adaptation plan.
And what were the results? 179 members of the House, mostly Conservative, but also Liberal and, unbelievably Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, voted nay to said motion.

It should be no surprise that the Conservative government is not dedicated to make any headway on the environment portfolio. Conservative Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver recently called a leading scientist's views "exaggerated" and said he was "crying wolf."

However, the bad news just got exponentially worse for Canada's government with this week's release of the Auditor-General's report by Michael Ferguson.

If there are two things that many Canadians have thought they could trust the Conservative Party with, they are "money" and "keeping Canadians safe." The AG's Report puts both into serious question. Ferguson found that $3.1-billion in money allocated for anti-terror initiatives has simply vanished. $3.1 billion dollars. Ferguson then said that there a search and rescue service that is nearly at the breaking point because of lack of a federal plan. "(Peter) MacKay said that a request for proposals to replace the 45-year-old Buffalo and 20-year-old Hercules airplanes used in search and rescue missions should be issued this year. But work has been ongoing on this file since 2002, leading to suggestions that this is not a priority for the department of National Defence." (The National Post)

Another section of the AG's damning report criticized the Aboriginal Affairs department for failing to co-operate with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to create a historical record of Indian residential schools. NDP MP Romeo Saganash stood up to note that thousands died in the schools, “including my brother.”

Also, the Auditor General said that "The Public Health Agency has not been leading federal efforts to prevent and control diabetes. Activities remain largely unco-ordinated and their impact is unknown.”

Finally, and astonishingly, it was revealed only days ago that the Conservative government plans on blatantly intruding on collective bargaining within crown corporations such as the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Canada Post, and VIA Rail. Under new legislation, a representative of the government would be at the table, and would have final say on any deals.

This is a government that is used to a control and conquer mentality, however now it is cracking and crumbling.  It is time for Canadians to rise up and say a defiant NO.

We have two years until the next federal election, and it is our job to be as vocal as we possibly can. We deserve better government than we have been getting. I will put my partisan hat on for a moment and say that I believe that the Official Opposition New Democratic Party is most worthy to place our confidence in. Its caucus has hard-working dedicated members, and a seasoned leader who has been very vocal in standing up across from Prime Minister Harper in these recent embarrassing times. Meanwhile, "Justin Trudeau, the new Liberal leader, chose to all but ignore the (Auditor-General's) report, sticking to the increases in tariffs announced in the budget. It represented a missed opportunity for the Liberals." (The National Post)
While the NDP is my choice for good governance, they also have work to do to earn the trust of more voters, particularly in places like Saskatchewan, its birthplace..

In conclusion, these are sad times to be a Canadian reflecting on its government. Canada no longer possesses a government that is the envy of nations. We must change this in 2015.

Mark Andrew Nouwen