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The Most Undemocratic Moments of 2012

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Soren Kierkegaard, the Danish philosopher argued that "Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards." As 2012 ends, what do we in Canada understood as enduring truths that can we take into living forward in 2013? On the home front, we should have understood that democracy in Canada can be taken too much for granted, even while in other places, in the Middle East, Afghanistan and elsewhere, people are willing to fight and die for it.

We take for granted that Parliamentary democracy is only as effective as the power concentrated in the Prime Minister's Office allows it to be. In the wrong hands, it can make MPs mostly irrelevant as demonstrated by the Harper PMO.

This year saw yet another massive omnibus budget bill in C-45 rushed with time allocation through Parliament. Do the majority of citizens even care that what should have been according to Parliamentary tradition, a financial and revenue bill, has the potential to undermine the protection of thousands of rivers and lakes?

Do they care that this bill also takes a potentially significant step to undermining the land and treaty rights of our First Nations? The provisions of C-45 dealing with First Nations land and treaty rights has now spawned the twitter #IdleNoMore movement and the hunger strike by Theresa Spence, the Chief of Northern Ontario's reserve which first caught the nation's attention when we witnessed on our screens the abject third world living conditions in the reserve.

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What's In Omnibus Budget Bill C-45?
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Now the hunger strike has received worldwide attention. Chief Spence has asked to meet with Harper and Governor General David Johnson to demand another high level national meeting to address the dire poverty in First Nations communities and the undermining of their rights in the budget bill.

As an opposition MP in the Reform Party, Harper himself decried these unprincipled massive budget bills. He tore into a much smaller Liberal omnibus budget bill in 1994 arguing that such bills violated the principles that was the foundation of his Reform Party. He asserted that they undermined the very reason why MPs were elected, namely to carefully scrutinize laws on behalf of those that elected them. This was supposed to be a bedrock of principled conservatism. Now, the supreme irony is that the NDP and the Liberals are using those same principles to protest against the budget bill.

Perhaps the Harper government is also counting on most Canadians not either knowing or caring what is in these massive bills as long as they can be sold on the talking points that these Parliament eroding measures are essential for "jobs and the economy." The talking points are encapsulated in the title of the C-45, "The Jobs and Growth Act". In those often used talking points lies what those who oppose this slow undermining of our democracy may wish to urge Canadians to live their lives forward.

The Communist Party of China has also tried to develop an authoritarian social contract with the masses that if they do well for the majority of citizens through jobs and the economy, they can deny them the most fundamental rights and freedoms that Canadians in this country enjoy.

There are signs that the authoritarian compact is starting to fray as China has produced its own version of industrial "robber barons" and hundreds of thousands of Chinese are starting to protest against rampant corruption, severe environmental degredation, violation of land rights and universally accepted human rights.

This is the dangerous slippery slope of the Harper government talking points that "jobs and the economy" can justify anything, even if it damages the democratic values that Harper and true conservatives once cherished.

Most Canadians want to live their lives forward having good jobs and thriving in a strong and vibrant economy that respects the fundamental values of our democracy and human rights, our legal and moral duties to our First Nations and that preserves our natural heritage to those that come after us.

Justifying anything in the name of "jobs and the economy" requires Canadians to live backwards in an authoritarian social contract. Living our lives forwards demands that citizens reject the dangerous slippery slope of the Harper government talking points.