Advertisement
Hot off the press
Stephen Harper Is Accused Of Stifling Democratic Rights. Are Canadians Incensed Enough To Vote Him Out?

The Salon is ONW's weekly gathering place where three of Canada's brightest and most respected political strategists - John Capobianco, Marit Stiles and Bernie Farber - come together to analyze national issues affecting Ontario.

 



Muzzling the government's own scientists; re-writing the Access to Information law to block charges against the RCMP; trying to kill a democratic reform bill by using unelected Conservative Senators who are supposed to be independent. Stephen Harper is being called the most fundamentally undemocratic PM Canada has ever seen. Are Canadians incensed enough to vote him out, or do they support him?


Bernie Farber: 

This is an issue that, quite frankly, scares me. 

How any government can, in what appears to be a callous way, disregard the law simply because it is able to, smacks of a system we should reject. That the RCMP is being protected for destroying long gun registry records makes it worse.

This has become the stuff of water-cooler chat and when that happens you know it's reached a point where it has an impact. 

People are quite rightly boiling angry. They see a government removed from the people it serves, becoming a law unto itself, and they want no part of it.

I have always held that while the economy is key for any political party, when a government is seen to be contravening constitutionally held protections, as seems to be the issue here, and the government appears to want to break that convention through the back door, people will react and react badly. That is the case today, in my view.  


Marit Stiles: 

I agree with Bernie’s read that the anti-democratic and indeed democracy-suppression tactics of the Harper government have many Canadians united in the desire for change. Indeed, if you aren’t outraged by one issue, you’ll find another to be outraged by. There's a long list of means by which the Conservatives have undermined our democratic rights.

The lack of respect and indeed contempt for officers of parliament, whose job it is to ensure fairness and accountability, has been unprecedented. And even those who might side with the Conservatives on some issues — like climate change — will find their attempt to muzzle critics and limit debate calculating and an affront to democracy. Many past-Conservative voters will be wondering what, if anything, has happened to the Stephen Harper who decried decades of Liberal scandals and back-room deals. 

At the end of the day, will this mean that more people get out to vote?  Will past-Conservative voters shift their allegiances? What's the breaking point? 

As we saw in Alberta, there's a limit to what voters will put up with and when a clear, genuine alternative for change appears on the horizon, voters may make that leap.


John Capobianco: 

"Boiling angry".... my friend Bernie suggests that Canadians are boiling angry and that this government has become a law unto itself. Really? 

To suggest this is ridiculous in the highest order. Not to say that the opposition parties aren't trying to make this an issue in some way — even Marit is suggesting that past Conservatives may be thinking about voting against this PM.

Look, this government has had its challenges, especially with the Senate issue, but when you look objectively at the situation, you see a PM who, with all the right intentions, appointed individuals who were respected in their respective fields to the Chamber. What they have done — allegedly — is their issue and they will be dealt with accordingly. The PM has been more than cooperative with officials looking into this issue.

As for the other issue about which the media and the Opposition are crying foul — the anti-terror Bill C-51 —  well, here this PM is showing leadership and courage to ensure our law enforcement agencies have the necessary tools to prevent terrorist acts on Canadian soil to the best of their abilities. 

Undemocratic? Quite the opposite I say.


Bernie Farber: 

John, the problem is it’s not simply me. If it were, you would be entirely proper in thinking my paranoia runs deep. 

No, the fact is that, in much harsher language, you can see this playing out in newspapers (yes, even newspapers perceived to have a right wing tilt), television news programs and even radio call in shows. And the language used in all three mediums is much harsher than anything I have written here.

The fact is that people are beginning to see a tired government that, as Marit has noted, no longer listens, feels perfectly fine in breaking constitutional protections and even defends those who may have broken the law. Just ask Mike Duffy.

Whether it’s trying to sneak in a retroactive law (nice try John in pivoting to terrorism), bully through a so called “Fair Elections Act” which had nothing to do with fairness and everything to do with undermining the electoral process, or trying to delegitimize one of the most trusted institutions in the country — our Supreme Court — people are simply not looking away. 

This I predict will become one of the election issues in October, issues Mr. Harper will find very difficult to ignore. 


Marit Stiles: 

First, let's be clear, John, that the Liberals sided with the Conservative government on Bill C-51. So for all their upset about it now, they voted in favour of that deeply undemocratic and flawed bill, and will also be answerable to the voters for that. Second, with regard to the Senate: this is a government that said it would change the Senate. Instead, it stacked the Chamber  with political hacks who became publicly-funded full-time fundraisers for the Conservatives.

Now, we are learning that staff in the PMO may have tried to interfere with the Auditor's investigation into Senate issues. So we have political staff covering up for these political appointees.

I have to admit that when presented with today's topic, I was really a bit overwhelmed by the choice of potential "anti democratic" actions of this government to take issue with. There's so very much to choose from.

The voters will decide, certainly, John. But what voters?  The "Un-fair Elections Act," along with many of this government's other attacks on the marginalized, on the very foundation of democracy, have the effect of making it more difficult for many Canadians' voices to be heard. 

The question I think will be whether those voters will be galvanized to fight back with their ballots, much the way that voters fought back against the Republicans in the US in the face of their outrageous voter-suppression tactics.

And if we can make a real change in government, and we end up with an NDP government, we can bring out some real, democratic electoral reform. Bring on Proportional Representation!


John Capobianco: 

This government will be judged by the competent management of the economy through some of the toughest economic challenges this country has faced in a long time. There is still more to be done and the economy is always volatile, which is why most Canadians will want a government (this government) to continue to have a steady hand guiding our economy.

Safety and security will also be major issues in the election and this government has had the courage to act and ensure we continue to be vigilant in this area domestically and internationally.

No doubt there have been situations where certain things could have been handled better, but to say — as the Opposition have — that this government has become undemocratic or attempted to thwart various democratic institutions is nothing more than electioneering in an election year, where despite their best efforts, they haven't been able to move public opinion.

As always, in any election, Canadians will look at all the parties and will make their decision on who is best to govern, based on what they feel is important to themselves and their families. It is my hope that Canadians will see Stephen Harper as the only one who can continue to steer us in the right direction.


 

Posted date: May 20, 2015
Category: ontarionewswatch.com NEWSROOM

Latest ontarionewswatch.com NEWS
Muzzling scientists; trying to kill a democratic reform bill. Capobianco, Stiles and Farber on charges Harper is anti-democratic.
May 20, 2015
Samuel de Champlain's landing on the shores of Georgian Bay 400 years ago this summer left him with a vision of cultural harmony that endures for Ontario today, says Randall White.
May 19, 2015
Expecting a "clean slate" of PC policies under new leader Patrick Brown is naive, says Susanna Kelley. Rather, many policies will depend on deals for support he made during the race.
May 11, 2015
The Liberals want to hike your taxes if you make over $200,000 but lower them if you make between $44,000 and $90,000. ONW asked Ontarians their reactions, and they may surprise you.
May 07, 2015
The Conservative government appears to be backpedaling after reports it is planning to use hate crime laws against groups that advocate boycotting Israel. Capobianco, Stiles and Farber debate.
May 07, 2015
The “electricity debate” in Ontario “is often driven as much by ‘theology’ as it is by rational analysis," observed former Liberal MPP Sean Conway, and Randall White agrees.
May 06, 2015
Justin Trudeau is promising to hike taxes for those making over $200,000 while lowering them for those whose incomes are between $44,000 and $90,000. Does he have the right balance, both for kick-star
May 06, 2015
Bankers are running Ontario's political agenda as the Liberals sell Ontario's most valuable piece of infrastructure - Hydro One's electricity grid - to pay for ... infrastructure: Susanna Kelley
April 29, 2015
Controlled, high temperature burns are the cleanest way to deal with the garbage generated by our day-to-day lives, says Terri Chu. Incineration is an option our politicians must begin to debate.
April 26, 2015
It's down to the wire as Elliott and Patrick Brown race to get vote out for next week's ballot. Elliott's not predicting the margin, but says she's sure to come out as winner May 9th.
April 25, 2015
Called "the outsider" in his race with Christine Elliott, whom some pundits have called the "establishment candidate," Brown may yet make himself the ultimate "insider" when the ballots are counted ne
April 25, 2015
"A clash between two clear alternatives." That's Randall White's analysis of Patrick Brown and Christine Elliott coming into the home stretch of the race to become Ontario PC leader on May 9.
April 23, 2015
ontarionewswatch.com NEWSROOM
Muzzling scientists; trying to kill a democratic reform bill. Capobianco, Stiles and Farber on charges Harper is anti-democratic.
May 20, 2015
Samuel de Champlain's landing on the shores of Georgian Bay 400 years ago this summer left him with a vision of cultural harmony that endures for Ontario today, says Randall White.
May 19, 2015
Expecting a "clean slate" of PC policies under new leader Patrick Brown is naive, says Susanna Kelley. Rather, many policies will depend on deals for support he made during the race.
May 11, 2015
The Liberals want to hike your taxes if you make over $200,000 but lower them if you make between $44,000 and $90,000. ONW asked Ontarians their reactions, and they may surprise you.
May 07, 2015
The Conservative government appears to be backpedaling after reports it is planning to use hate crime laws against groups that advocate boycotting Israel. Capobianco, Stiles and Farber debate.
May 07, 2015
The “electricity debate” in Ontario “is often driven as much by ‘theology’ as it is by rational analysis," observed former Liberal MPP Sean Conway, and Randall White agrees.
May 06, 2015
Justin Trudeau is promising to hike taxes for those making over $200,000 while lowering them for those whose incomes are between $44,000 and $90,000. Does he have the right balance, both for kick-star
May 06, 2015
Bankers are running Ontario's political agenda as the Liberals sell Ontario's most valuable piece of infrastructure - Hydro One's electricity grid - to pay for ... infrastructure: Susanna Kelley
April 29, 2015
Controlled, high temperature burns are the cleanest way to deal with the garbage generated by our day-to-day lives, says Terri Chu. Incineration is an option our politicians must begin to debate.
April 26, 2015
It's down to the wire as Elliott and Patrick Brown race to get vote out for next week's ballot. Elliott's not predicting the margin, but says she's sure to come out as winner May 9th.
April 25, 2015
Called "the outsider" in his race with Christine Elliott, whom some pundits have called the "establishment candidate," Brown may yet make himself the ultimate "insider" when the ballots are counted ne
April 25, 2015
"A clash between two clear alternatives." That's Randall White's analysis of Patrick Brown and Christine Elliott coming into the home stretch of the race to become Ontario PC leader on May 9.
April 23, 2015
onwDOCS
Sandra Pupatello thought she had Eric Hoskins support-until he crossed the convention floor to Kathleen Wynne. Did he change his mind mid-walk? Watch Susanna Kelley's documentary on the convention.
January 29, 2013
There's what you saw of the Liberal convention on TV, and there's what you didn't see. In this ONW documentary, a top Liberal strategist guides us through what was going on behind the scenes.
January 29, 2013
Three of seven Ontario Liberal leadership candidates are claiming the title of "jobs candidate," and all say they can solve an unemployment rate higher than the U.S.' ONW's Susanna Kelley reports on t
December 03, 2012
Are our political leaders safeguarding our democracy, or trying to shut it down? How best to protect it? In Susanna Kelley's new mini-doc, two top political experts don't pull any punches.
September 20, 2012
On July 1, Canada's beloved medicare turns 50. But its journey has been a bitter one, especially in Ontario. Watch Susanna Kelley's short documentary.
May 14, 2012
It will be the king-maker - or queenmaker - in the Ontario election. ONW's Susanna Kelley has prepared this mini-doc on races to watch in the riding rich "905" area near Toronto.
September 01, 2011
When you've got 22 ridings, it's hard not to think of yourself as the centre of the (election) universe. ONW's Susanna Kelley prepared this mini-doc on the races to watch in Toronto.
August 25, 2011
Small Towns, Big Fights: It's the classic story of small town Ontario-PC candidates from establishment families vie with Liberals for power. Here's Susanna Kelley's mini-documentary.
August 18, 2011
ONW travels to a land where the fiercest riding fights are about protecting public services, not cutting them. Susanna Kelley prepared this mini-doc.
August 11, 2011
The J Word: Jobs are the big issue in southwestern Ontario campaign fights. Susanna Kelley checks in on the hot ridings, concluding this week's ONW pre-campaign tour.
August 04, 2011
The Liberals are increasing the number of international university students by 50% over five years. Susanna Kelley looks at whether Ontario students could get squeezed out.
July 07, 2011
There's much more going on than just dropping that platform. Susanna Kelley reports.
June 28, 2011
ontarionewswatch.com Political Panel
Will return when the Legislature re-opens next week.
September 02, 2013
While the OPP investigates deleted emails from top McGuinty aides in the gas plant scandal, the Insiders step back to assess each leader's performance this sitting.
June 11, 2013
PC leader Tim Hudak wants to know if a list of fee increases on or off the table for Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne. The ONW Insiders with host Susanna Kelley.
June 06, 2013
Will Ontario agree to HST and gas tax hikes to raise $34 billion over 20 years to fight GTHA gridlock? Insiders Hershell Ezrin, Howard Hampton and John Parker on Metrolinx's recommendations.
May 30, 2013
Hershell Ezrin, Jeff Bangs and Howard Hampton on whether NDP budget wins are an example of might over right, or democratic, compromise minority government politics at its finest?
May 23, 2013
Will reports of a video allegedly showing Toronto's mayor smoking crack do in Ford Nation? ONW Insiders Hershell Ezrin, Jeff Bangs and Howard Hampton with host Susanna Kelley.
May 23, 2013
Former Premier Dalton McGuinty says he made the decision to shutter the Mississauga gas plant. But how likely is it he made the eleventh-hour election choice alone?
May 09, 2013
Former Premier Dalton McGuinty cancelled the Mississauga gas plant in mid-campaign without knowing the cost. How often are important policy decisions made on the fly?
May 09, 2013
More money for home care, jobs for youth, lower car insurance rates ... John Snobelen, Howard Hampton and Bob Richardson on whether the Liberals can successfully woo the NDP and avoid an election.
May 03, 2013
The Liberals' May 2nd budget may win NDP support, but is it what Ontario needs? Former PC Premier Ernie Eves, Liberal Bob Richardson and former NDP leader Howard Hampton debate.
April 25, 2013
Justin Trudeau made his debut as Liberal leader in Ottawa this week. He stuck to his theme of championing the middle class. Ezrin, Hampton and Bangs on the strategy behind that.
April 18, 2013
When Justin Trudeau fights the next election, the battlegrounds are clear: seats in Ontario's "905" belt and Quebec. Ezrin, Hampton and Bangs on what he needs to do to win.
April 18, 2013
Taking It To The Street
Would Ontario have lost millions of jobs, and would Canadians have to worry about its government secretly spying on them without warrants, if we'd had a truly democratic system?
October 07, 2013
After two years of the gas plant scandal obsession, Susanna Kelley says the voters' real concern - high unemployment - may finally get the attention it deserves
October 02, 2013
Blame Ontario's conflict-ridden, antiquated political donation rules. It's time the system had a major overhaul, writes ONW's Susanna Kelley.
September 24, 2013
Premier Wynne's new transit panel shows a key difference between the two politicians, Howath tells Susanna Kelley. Actions, not endless talk, will differentiate them next election.
September 19, 2013
Firing those who aspire to your job on the eve of a convention where your leadership is shaky, to say the least, smacks of desperation, not strength, says ONW's Susanna Kelley.
September 16, 2013
Firing the Thornhill MPP for taking a housing allowance of nearly $21,000 for a Niagara On The Lake retirement home won't solve Tim Hudak's credibility gap.
September 09, 2013
And Now, A Dramatic Pause: With Kathleen Wynne and Andrea Horwath's pragmatism, the PC's in disarray, and Stephen Harper in pre-election mode, moderate politics is on the horizon for Ontario.
September 03, 2013
Stephen Harper and Rob Ford share the same damage control strategy, it seems: when in trouble, run away. This is leadership? More from ONW's Susanna Kelley.
May 21, 2013
Will all the political maneuvering leading up to Thursday's Ontario budget avert an election? ONW's Susanna Kelley says we may not know for weeks yet.
April 29, 2013
There's much more to the younger Trudeau's campaign than longing for the more optimistic days of Pierre Elliott Trudeau, says ONW's Susanna Kelley.
April 08, 2013
Kathleen Wynne's vision includes ideas from the PCs, NDP, former leadership rivals and others. Will her consensus politics keep her government afloat?
February 20, 2013
With the first solid evidence in that two women are the frontrunners in the Liberal leadership race, all politicos should note the achievement.
January 14, 2013
THE SALON
What are the feds doing to help more than 500,000 jobless Ontarians? Senator Bob Runciman, Richard Mahoney and Joe Cressy gather in The Salon as ONW’s Jobs Week continues.
January 22, 2014
Accusations are flying that the Prime Minister improperly issued orders to CPC Senators while their colleagues carried out a personal vendetta. Anderson, Mahoney and Stanford sort it out.
October 24, 2013
At a cool $1.1 billion cost, could the gas plant scandal be any worse for the Ontario Liberals? And who will win "The Battle For Ontario" in the next federal election?
October 09, 2013
The feds say they'll kick in $660 million for the Scarborough subway - but is it enough? And, is the NDP ready to rumble in the next Ontario and federal elections?
September 25, 2013
Two economic visions for Canada - the NDP's Linda McCuaig vs. Liberal Christina Freeland's - clash in the Toronto Centre by-election. Also up: Quebec's Charter of Values.
September 18, 2013
As the Legislature opens, will an Ontario financial watchdog fare better than Ottawa's? And Peter Shurman's firing: after Duffy and Wallin, did Tim Hudak have any choice?
September 10, 2013
Trudeau and Legalized Marijuana: An idea whose time has come, or good political strategy? And Syria's alleged chemical weapons: What should Canada do? The Salon is back.
September 05, 2013
The Senate scandal: Can new proposals to audit all Senators' expenses restore faith in the institution? And the union spending bill: dead, or just about to be resurrected?
June 05, 2013
There are no winners in the Rob Ford alleged cocaine video controversy. And, what the robocall court decision says about our voting system, the CPC and Elections Canada.
May 29, 2013
What must PM Harper do after explosive news his former top aide has resigned for writing a personal cheque for $90,000 to Senator Mike Duffy? ONW's national experts discuss.
May 22, 2013
The Liberals say Justin Trudeau is the secret to their by-election win in Labrador. And, is Stephen Harper really thinking about retiring?
May 15, 2013
Can Justin Trudeau's fundraising juggernaut finally allow the Liberals to battle the Harperites' attack ads effectively? And the oil sands: under fire from all sides.
May 08, 2013
onw COLUMNISTS
Political observers were puzzled when Premier Wynne played the election threat card recently, then almost immediately backtracked. Hershell Ezrin has some thoughts on her strategy.
September 17, 2013
Stephen Harper's last two prorogations were the work of a tyrant. This latest one, says parliamentary expert Peter Russell, is the work of a stumble bum prime minister just lurching along.
September 04, 2013
Toronto council's decision against a casino puts the city in perfect sync with the Wynne government - exactly as democracy is supposed to work, says the parliamentary expert
May 28, 2013
Charges in a new book that the late Supreme Court Justice Bora Laskin undermined the repatriation of Canada's constitution in 1982 are just plain wrong.
May 23, 2013
While Premier Wynne has reached out to the opposition leaders with the new budget, Andrea Horwath is playing a game of political chicken we all might live to regret.
May 07, 2013
We can't expect tomorrow's leaders to be effective citizens without teaching them how government works today. But the current mandatory high school civics course being used is inadequate.
April 22, 2013
Whereas his father Pierre faced a constitutional crisis with Quebec threatening to leave Canada, his son faces one of a different sort: a malfunctioning parliamentary democracy.
April 16, 2013
The CPC can't possibly govern intelligently by gagging scientists and stopping them from doing proper scientific research. And that means we'll all pay.
April 10, 2013
Phillippe Couillard's idea to make Quebec a constitutional signatory by 2017 is big mistake. Constitutional expert Russell warns not to go down that road again.
March 25, 2013
The Harper government is refusing a visa to one of the world's leading experts on the rights of indigenous peoples, UN "rapporteur" Dr. James Anaya. Is it afraid of what he may report?
March 19, 2013
Although not a Liberal, the parliamentary expert is endorsing Vancouver MP Joyce Murray for Liberal leader. He particularly likes her ideas to reform our sagging democracy.
March 04, 2013
There are signs that Mr. Harper may be turning to the political centre-a bit. It's easy to see why: his party is lagging in the polls, and he'd like to keep his majority next election.
February 19, 2013
THOUGHT PROVOKERS
The hue and cry over Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and six vacationing friends staying for free for eight days at Canada's High Commissioner's residence is a tempest in a teapot.
June 27, 2013
The Senate expenses issue is taking up far too much time, says the former PC cabinet minister. Fix it and move on, because there's important work to be done - like getting the economy on track.
June 06, 2013
Between Ottawa's senate spending scandal and the alleged Rob Ford crack cocaine video, it's easy to get cynical about government. But the Liberal advisor has few examples to refute that.
June 05, 2013
The Liberals have survived a Premier's resignation, a leadership campaign and two minority budgets. But raising $32 billion to fight gridlock just may be their undoing, says the former NDP MPP.
May 30, 2013
The Liberal government is set to "trash" legislation it previously passed to protect endangered species, says the Green Party leader. A five year exemption for forestry companies is just one change.
May 28, 2013
The deaths of over 1,000 garment workers in a Bangladesh factory collapse has Canadian manufacturers abroad pressing for labour law reform. Canadian-owned mines abroad should pay close attention.
May 27, 2013
Watching the slow, agonizing implosion of Canada's Senate inspires Professor Wesley-Esquimaux to articulate ideas to make Canada work better.
May 23, 2013
The very real problems with modern polling have been highlighted once again in the BC election. The real losers are the media, which must get back to reporting on actual elections, not just the polls.
May 22, 2013
Funding a major public transit expansion in the GTA is a matter of hot debate right now. Doing that in a fair way is possible, says Mackenzie, and he has some new ideas on how to accomplish that.
May 22, 2013
Ontario's budget is a brilliant piece of political strategy by the Liberals. It's really all about taking away three more seats from the NDP in the next election.
May 15, 2013
The massive cost of moving gas plants in Mississauga and Oakville was eminently predictable and avoidable. The public-private partnership took away government power but stuck it with the bill.
May 14, 2013
New census data just released says 20 per cent of Canadians were born outside this country, providing a healthy multicultural mix. But new Canadians have unique problems that need addressing.
May 13, 2013