Toronto – January 7, 2013 – For many Canadians, the phrase “Canada: The True North Strong and Free” means that we are free to live in a democratic society where we have the right to freedom of expression and association, but under Government Boss Stephen Harper, many citizens are asking the question: “Is democracy dying?”
If we look at actions taken by Harper, it’s easy to draw the conclusion that because of Harper and the Conservatives, democracy is dying in Canada.
So what is Government Boss Harper doing to kill democracy?
- Abusing the concept of closure, and getting away with it because of subservient cabinet ministers and backbenchers, which results in legislation by authoritarian rule.
- Grouping a number of unrelated subjects into what is normally a budget bill, and then limiting Committee discussion on the individual issues covered.
- Appointing party hacks to the Senate on the condition that they support specific legislation or proposals
- Eliminating party financing to silence the voice of opposition parties.
- Attacking the idea of pluralism by cutting funding to every group that isn’t onside with the Tories.
- Full throttle assault on labour organizations. Franklin Roosevelt said, “It is one of the characteristics of a free and democratic nation that it have free and independent labour unions.” And it is well established that real democracy cannot function without a strong trade union movement, but the Harper government is anti-union in a way that few Canadian governments have ever been.
In his 2011 election platform Stephen Harper made no mention of labour law reform, but what has he done since the election?
- On June 18, 2011 his government legislated the end of a 2-day strike of CAW members at Air Canada.
- On June 20, 2011, one day after CUPW members were locked out, back to work legislation was brought in to end the postal strike. The legislation stipulated wages that were lower than Canada’s Post’s worst offer.
- March 12, 2012, Labour Minister Lisa Raitt introduced legislation to prevent Air Canada pilots from going on strike.
- May 27, 2012, Raitt introduced back-to-work legislation to put CP Rail workers back to work after a 5 day strike.
- Harper also supported private member’s Bill C-377: a Bill that will cost taxpayers millions – if not billions – of dollars and severely impact the ability of unions to service their memberships.
Even though Freedom of Association is protected by the Charter, Government Boss Stephen Harper refuses to respect the rights of workers in Canada.
In the year ahead, we cannot role over and play dead and let Harper have it his way. We must continue to support our fellow workers and union members in becoming more engaged politically. We must step up our lobbying efforts with politicians to ensure our voice is heard. Most importantly we must elect politicians and government who are dedicated to serving a free and democratic society.