Fast-forward a decade, and we've become a true north suppressed and disparate -- where unregistered civic demonstrations are inhibited and repressed, rebellious Internet activities are scrutinised and supervised, government scientists are hushed and muzzled, and public information is stalled and mired by bureaucratic firewalls.
A new report from policy analysts calls on the Harper government to end the use of overloaded omnibus bills such as C-38 and C-45.
Based on posts originally published on Scott Clark and Peter DeVries’ blog 3D Policy, the report is set to appear in Inside Policy magazine. It harshly criticizes the government’s record when it comes to budget transparency.
“It is now recognized by most observers of the federal budget process, that the integrity and credibility of the process has been seriously eroded in recent years,” they write.
“Less information is now provided to the public in budgets than under previous Liberal and Conservative governments; the authority of Parliament over government spending has been weakened; the understanding of Canadians as to what the government is actually planning to do in the budget has been eroded. Canadians should be concerned not just with the erosion of Parliament’s authority, but also ultimately with their own ability to hold the government to account for its actions.”
Though they keep their comments to fiscal concerns, the issues they target also throw light on the Harper government’s tactics of obfuscation when it came to issues of environmental regulation, specifically in terms of Bill C-38 and Bill C-45.
Sunday marked the beginning of Freedom to Read week, an annual event reminding Canadian citizens of the intellectual freedom they are constitutionally guaranteed. It also reminds us we are governed by other citizens with the capacity to permit or limit that freedom. These are citizens that we can hold accountable only to the extent that we know how they make their decisions and what consequences those decisions have.
The event this year stands out on the Canadian political landscape, an uncomfortable reminder of just how frustrated the free flow of information has become in this country.
The timing is significant, as the event arrives on the heels of a University of Victoria study that highlights the Harper government’s efforts to restrict media access to federal scientists.
This is a post by Michael Harris, originally published on iPolitics.
“Everything has a crack in it; that’s how the light gets in.” Leonard Cohen, take a bow.
Another crack has appeared in the Harper government’s surreptitious but merciless war to muzzle Canadian scientists — and just about everyone else.
The light entering through this particular crack shines on a disturbing fact. Canada, the only parliamentary democracy in the Commonwealth where a government has been found in contempt of Parliament, is now the only democracy in the world where a government bureaucrat can suppress scientific research.
“If people don’t speak out there will never be any change,” says the University of Victoria’s award-winning climate scientist Andrew Weaver.
And the need for change in Canada, says Weaver, has never been more pressing.
“We have a crisis in Canada. That crisis is in terms of the development of information and the need for science to inform decision-making. We have replaced that with an ideological approach to decision-making, the selective use of whatever can be found to justify [policy decisions], and the suppression of scientific voices and science itself in terms of informing the development of that policy.”
The trade agreement, or treaty, as it is called, is slated for ratification at the end of this month. The Commons trade committee will be briefed on the document in a one hour hearing.
With a trade deal that threatens Canadian sovereignty looming on the horizon and a government committed to expediting its approval, DeSmog caught up with trade investment lawyer and Osgoode professor Gus Van Harten to talk through some of the details.