Thursday, July 29, 2010

Canada's Fading Democratic Committment

A less proud country

Apathetic Canadians have allowed their government to trample freedoms -- but opposition is mounting

By Lawrence Scanlan,

[Ottawa] Citizen Special July 28, 2010

There's been a sea change, a darkening of the political climate in this country. The first instinct is to discount such javascript:void(0)troubling thoughts. So perhaps the view of someone born elsewhere, but long on our shores, is more to be trusted. Ursula Franklin, the celebrated physicist, pacifist, author and Companion of the Order of Canada, recently spoke to CBC Radio's The Current. She had survived a Nazi death camp and come to Canada hoping for better. Now 88, Franklin is "profoundly worried about the absence and erosion of democracy in Canada." Democracy, I heard her say on the radio, is a slow and messy process. When Franklin sees cabinet ministers holding press conferences to discuss legislation not yet debated in the House of Commons, she sees that process being skirted. And when she hears the prime minister saying he does not "trust" the Opposition, she sees contempt for democracy itself. "Who wants to live in a country," Franklin asked, "where those who don't think like you are deemed untrustworthy?"

A German reporter here to cover the G20 summit likened Toronto's walls to the Berlin Wall and Checkpoint Charlie. I was just in Berlin and the checkpoint these days comprises a few sandbags and two "soldiers" in Second World War American uniforms posing for tourists' cameras. Walls fall in one place, rise up in another. But surely not here?