Ruling Canada without a strong mandate

What is the true purpose of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s desire to restore 9/11-era power to the Canadian police to arrest individuals without charge and to grant judges the power to compel testimony?

Mr. Harper’s Conservative party would certainly like for you to believe that so-called terrorism is such the threat to our society that living under a George W. Bush-era police state is necessary. There may be a hint of truth in that, but likely just a hint.

Photo by Bouke Salverda.

As noted in a Globe & Mail article on the subject, these emergency powers existed in Canada for several years after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, but were never used. Parliament voted to repeal them in 2007, against the minority Conservative government’s wishes.

Perhaps the real reason the Tories are attempting to revive what amounts to the equivalent of martial law is Mr. Harper understands the sleepy nature of the Canadian electorate better than the people understand themselves. For that, he deserves full credit. If the Tories succeed in pushing through a renewed Combating Terrorism Act, it could be used with impunity in almost any scenario.

The forthcoming G20 meetings scheduled to take place in Toronto this June spring to mind. What better way to control political dissent than to arrest anyone and everyone that gets within view of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, where many of the meetings will be held.

While there are activists, groups of concerned citizens, and individuals doing their best in various ways to voice their opposition to Canada’s fading democracy most it seems are content to do nil. If Canadians believe signing on to a silly, useless Facebook campaign such as, “I bet this onion ring can get more friends than Stephen Harper” will have an impact in any way, shape, or form, then perhaps we deserve to be governed with an iron fist.

With the above in mind, comments made by journalist/author Malcolm Gladwell in Vancouver in early April continue to resonate. Gladwell stated, “We celebrated Twitter’s role in the Green Revolution in Iran last year because it allows us to gather people together quickly and cheaply. And what happened in Iran? The government limited the bandwidth and shut down Facebook and Twitter.”

In other words, modern communications tools are useful. But they can’t take the place of an engaged population that’s prepared to do more than take a goofy position on matters that can and will change the very fabric of a country’s democracy.

What are you prepared to do about that?

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About @LiamLahey

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