By Mark Taliano
“Inverted totalitarianism comes into being not by design, but by inattention to the consequences of actions, or especially, inactions. Or, more precisely, inattention to their cumulative consequences.” – Sheldon. S. Wolin
Such is the case in today’sCanada. Our inattention to the federal government’s control of information and its assaults on Charter rights, is inexorably leading us towards totalitarianism, and the cost of this inattention is very high.
Even the government’s ascension to majority status was tainted. The as yet unresolved issue of electoral fraud is still on the back burner, and it may remain there, if the government, aided in part by corporate media conglomerates, succeeds in de-valuing the importance of the issue.
Parliamentary democracy is also being relegated to the back burner. In unprecedented fashion, time-limits to debate are curtailed, and omnibus legislation is the order of the day. The omnibus budget bill is 421 pages long and it includes legislation that dismantles environmental protections. Consequently, and by design, there is no time for committees to analyze and improve the legislation.
The environmental legislation is an icon of evidence–free decision making. Government scientists and public servants are not allowed to speak to the media without permission, nor can they speak to MPs. Additionally, any and all research that the government deems to be contrary to government ambitions (read tar sands) is muzzled.
Charities that don’t align with government ambitions are also being targeted. The Canada Revenue Agency is supposed to be “independent”, but it, too, is being used as a political arm of the government. Environmental charities are being attacked for foreign funding, while false charities such as the Fraser Institute are left alone. The net effect is that free speech is being negatively impacted.
The omnibus crime bill (C-10), also not evidence-based, contains nine pieces of “bundled” legislation, and, like Bill C-38, the government has refused to “unbundled” it into more manageable parts. The danger to rushing such legislation is best summarized by interim liberal party leader Bob Rae: “It’s not a real crime prevention strategy. It’s a prison promotion strategy, it’s an incarceration strategy, that … will prove a costly mistake forCanada.” It’s no surprise either that lobbyists for the bill include the private prison industry.
Charter rights are suffering a “death by a thousand cuts”. Most recently, the passing of the anti-protest Bill 78 in Quebecis an attack on our rights to protest, and to freely assemble. The police abuses at the G-20, and now in Montreal, point to the importance of honoring the Charter Of Rights And Freedoms. Much as the government is using the CRA as a political instrument, they are using the police to stifle public expression. Sheldon Wolin: “ … We may recognize police as a force for controlling public expression rather than simply as “the arm of the law” dedicated to the protection of life and property.”
These attacks on fair elections, on parliamentary democracy, on science, and on freedoms of speech and assembly are attacks on core Canadian values. Ignoring these incremental attacks will invariably result in further repressions as the government imposes “austerity”, “fear”, and militarism on an unsuspecting populace.
Quebec, with its Maple Spring, is at the forefront of this fight for our liberties and our future. The question remains though: What will it take before the rest of us wake-up?
Mark Taliano is a Niagara resident and a regular contributor of commentary to Niagara At Large.
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