Bill C-51 Reveals Harper’s Inner Bully | The Tyee

Posted: March 21, 2015 in Canadian Politics

It’s not just the institutions that are vulnerable, though they certainly are. It’s a familiar list, including Harper’s bullying of former governor-general Michaëlle Jean to force the proroguing of the House, his guide book on how to make parliamentary committees ineffective, the use of robocalls and other election dirty tricks, his attempt to break the rules in appointing a Supreme Court judge, and his neutering the House of Commons question period through a deliberate strategy of refusing to answer questions — a practice that institutionalizes a contempt for Parliament that spreads outward to the general public. At a certain point it doesn’t matter who is responsible — the institution itself becomes risible and irrelevant to ordinary citizens. Which is, of course, exactly what Harper intends.

And that brings us to the other element of democratic politics — the actual citizens who are supposed to be the raw material of democracy. The whole institutional edifice theoretically rests on the foundation of the voting public. The extent to which the institutions of democracy can be assaulted and eroded with impunity is directly proportional to the level of civic literacy. The lower it is, the easier it is for autocrats like Harper to abuse their power.

In terms of civic literacy, we are somewhere between Europe where it is relatively high, and the U.S. where it is frighteningly low. While the question is obviously more complicated than this, it’s not far-fetched to suggest that there is a continuum — with consumerism at one end and highly engaged citizenship at the other. We live in a hyper-consumer society — not a citizen-society characterized by the oft-repeated disclaimer “I’m not interested in politics.” The growing basis for our culture is not community or cooperation but conspicuous consumption and possessive individualism.

via Bill C-51 Reveals Harper’s Inner Bully | The Tyee.


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