Does anyone remember the Director of the Chalk River Nuclear Plant who was fired for saying the plant had to be shut down for repairs?
Does anyone remember the Law Reform Commission of Canada that spent two years studying proportional representation and when its Director said , ‘yes we can and should change the electoral system. (Not very radical, there’s only 3 democracies left with first past the post.) The entire Law Reform Commission was zapped as in it no longer exists -that’s ‘yes, we can’t!’ with everything but bullets.
Then there was the Deputy Minister of Statistics Canada who had the temerity to say ‘hey, it’s not true. I didn’t recommend we kill the long form census’. (Again, not very radical, he was supported by every municipality in the country including Ottawa, the Nation’s Capital.)
How about Minister Oda who didn’t bother to tell Parliament she had a disagreement with advice signed off by the President of CIDA? Most recently, there’s the little problem of no true cost for the prison bill and the jets?
You got to ask yourself how long can a democracy survive this kind of lack of respect for evidence based decisions and honest reporting to Parliament.
One of the reasons that Canadians are living in such a morass of dead-ends today is the same reason that made Alice in Wonderland such a compelling read. It was not just the upside-downiness of the Wonderland world that made the book so fascinating, but that it was a place without any focus. The Mad Hatter’s tea party, Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee, the Cheshire Cat. Nothing fit. Nothing related. The evening news isn’t that different today.
How does unreported crime and the decline of evidence based decisions in Canada today fit with Haitian and Japanese tsunamis and earthquakes, the price of gasoline, the Afghan War, the fate of North African dictators, climate change or a deranged woman attacking a counter clerk somewhere in Florida? All of this is typical evening news fodder.
I have the impression people are afraid of a federal election because they have no idea what they should vote on? It’s a world where more protective services everywhere seem to be the only thing anyone can agree on and Mr. Harper has the corner on ‘more military’ everywhere. Hence, the inside track on getting re-elected.
How about deciding what we want the election to be about before we have one? Do we want a government that eschews wars or joins in? Do we want a government that promotes local supplies of food or imports food? Do we want a national urban transit strategy or not? Do we want inter-city rail or more roads and more planes? Do we want to break up the media conglomerates and foster a more diverse media ownership or not? Do we want a proportional vote or not?
These are all actions that are about us, about our cities, about how we live in our nation. My own vote is for an election less about fear of terror everywhere and more about how our cities and democratic institutions work at home.
At the end of the book, Alice woke up, left Wonderland and went home. We need to wake up too. Getting home will be a little harder.