Harper Limiting Our Freedom of Choice

One of the freedoms we cherish in Canada is our freedom to vote, our democratic system. And now we face another federal election. All the parties are trying to win our votes. All proclaim themselves champions of democracy.  But the Conservative Party is demonstrating a complete disregard for our rights and freedoms. I hope even those who are true blue Conservatives will recognize that allowing Stephen Harper to continue leading this country could have a devastating impact on our rights.

I read with stunned disbelief about the Conservative Party’s rallies. They throw out people whom they suspect of being sympathetic to anyone other than the Conservatives. They have teams checking people’s Facebook pages and car bumper stickers for evidence of disloyalty. So apparently they do not want to attract prospective voters, people outside the inner circle – they want to exclude everyone who is not a card-carrying Conservative. That bodes ill if they come back into power, as it truly suggests they only want to take care of “their own” and that they see no reason to respect the right of, for example, a political science student to listen to the discussions of all parties. What do they fear? That someone might ask a question Stephen Harper can’t answer? That someone might disagree with their policies? What happened to freedom of speech?

It’s downright creepy. Such behaviour conjures images of totalitarian states where one is not permitted to speak against the government, where the leader is cordoned off from the public (possibly in his mansion or palace) and surrounded by bodyguards or thugs.

And let’s not forget that the self-proclaimed “Harper Government” (no mention of the rest of the country) is the first government in the Commonwealth to be found in contempt of parliament. That’s a pretty blatant statement of disregard for democracy. But Harper shrugs it off. After all, he’s kept the economy in decent shape. We have to be very careful here. If we elect someone simply to save our jobs or our (corporate) savings, regardless of his ethics, we are paving the way for a dictatorship, which would suit Mr. Harper very well. He already controls what members of his cabinet are allowed to say in public and how many questions the press are allowed to pose. If we re-elect the Conservatives we would also be indicating we don’t care if the government hides what it is doing and spies on us, ignores parliamentary process and only ensures that the rich stay rich.

In contrast to what Harper is doing, all the other parties look golden. Two weeks ago I got a call from Jack Layton. Well, a recorded message, though for a minute I really thought I had him on the line. He invited me to join a town hall style teleconference, and when the NDP called back the following night, I thought, why not? So I listened in.

True, the NDP probably invited known sympathizers to participate (although I was not a party member.) Also true that no one had the chance to harass Jack in person because it was a phone call, but we did have Jack himself on the line for over an hour, answering questions from people all over the country. On the spot, without any handlers. It was refreshing to hear him respond, to hear his passion for the issues. At one point he apologized “Sorry if I seem a little heated about this, but it really makes me angry.” Imagine, a politician sharing his feelings with people he doesn’t even know, people who haven’t been vetted by his team. Someone who did not support the NDP might even have listened in.

A vote for Harper – or anyone in his party – is a vote against democracy. Think about it, Canada.

 

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3 Responses to Harper Limiting Our Freedom of Choice

  1. Jamie says:

    Well met, mother! Very controversial — one hopes that the corruption/incompetence/etc. of a political entity presently in power should have no part of a democratic decision: I mean, what if you really have conservative beliefs and the party platform as written is what you believe? Just because of the people presently “in power”, you’re forced to vote against what are, in principle, your own beliefs! I’ve heard a lot of people speaking out against “non-“campaigns like “a vote for the NDP is not a vote for the Conservatives”, but such statements represent more than just smearing the opponent, as you’ve pointed out.

  2. Geoff says:

    Agreed – the way Harper is running his campaign is the way he has run parliament, and it is unnerving that this is not catching on as a major campaign issue. I am also bothered by his fragmentation of the country – he is so tightly focused on obtaining a majority that he is concentrating on small interest groups, sections of the immigrant population (which often tend to be small c reactionary conservative in their beliefs, like about the role of women), and buying seats in provinces like Newfoundland. The other disturbing thing about his campaign is that it is the classic campaign of a front-runner – so the polls he is getting can’t be making him nervous, although that certainly makes me nervous.
    The problem with the political balance in the country is that there is only one party for the people to the right of the spectrum to vote for, while more thoughtful and progressive voters (is that my bias showing?) split three ways. Perhaps the centre, centre left, and left need to have a serious conversation about forming the kind of coalition that Harper has done, but between elections. One progressive party might stand a chance. I know there is always a debate about whether we want a two party system like the States – the fact is we have only ever had two parties elected federally, so while the NDP has been successful provincially, and has added significantly to the well being of the country through having some of its policies co-opted by the Liberals (health care, for example), perhaps they could be equally successful working inside a party in power.
    Back to the campaign – at least Ignatieff is trying to carve out a position that is different from that of the Conservatives, rather than trying to move right to attract Conservatives…but he has a very odd presence on television, so I am not hopeful of the outcome of the television debates next week.

    • Meg Westley says:

      Good points all, Geoff. I’m thinking what we need is an ABC progressive coalition (Anything But Conservative.) If we really want a progressive government in the country (and it would seem we share a bias here), it would make sense to me if the 3 parties who currently split the vote were to come up with some sort of strategy to avoid doing that. Hmmm. I feel another blog post coming on. Thanks for the stimulating comment.

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