I have a friend who regularly asks why I don’t engage more actively politically. “Don’t you care?” she rails at me. It isn’t that I don’t care but that I care too much. If I reflect too deeply on what is occuring politically in Canada, I just feel the rage and impotence boil over. I have not waded in on the Robocall scandal, not out of indifference, but because I scare myself. What should I do with all this caring?
Michael Ignatieff tried very hard to alert Canadians to the erosion of our democracy under Stephen Harper, and we all saw what that got him. Mr. Harper is a bully. From the proroguing of parliament to efforts to curtailing opposition by undercutting funding, he has done everything to stifle those who criticize him. When I hear people talk about his statesmanlike posture I respond, dictators can be statesmen too. But that doesn’t mean he reflects the views and attitudes of the people he represents and if Mr. Harper was unaware personally of the misleading robocalls, he has created a environment where this kind of behavior is acceptable.
Since he first took office, there has been a concerted effort to silence dissent. Journalists and others who keep the public informed on the workings of government have been systematically denied interviews and answers to queries. The true costs of programs have been disguised and buried and if this wasn’t bad enough he protected a cabinet minister who blatantly changed a funding recommendation made by her department and denied it in the House of Commons.
So if my friend is unhappy with my willingness participate in the public dialogue I hope this post will set the record straight: I am deeply disheartened by our agenda on the environment; I am saddened that our international standing as a peacekeeper has become corroded; I am outraged by changes to the gun registry which completely overlook the fact that most violent crime is domestic and knowlege about the presence of a gun in the home can be critical to non-violent outcomes and underfunding of the arts, the source of our culture, our creativity and our national joy breaks my heart. But the loss of our democratic principles of free and open choice is too awful to contemplate.