Democracy under attack

“democratic principles decoupled from human rights principles can easily descend into fascist demagoguery”

Payam Akhavan, McGill law professor


Harper’s Leadership: Not so secure, not so pragmatic, not so proven

Stephen Harper.

The strategic, pragmatic, secure, proven leader.

Adjectives, repeated by journalists, conservative politicians and supporters during his nine-year tenure as Canada’s prime minister.

Adjectives, some of which, aptly describe his Machiavellian gamesmanship in the art and science of politics.

Adjectives and a positioning, in contrast to his administration and its implications for Canada.



From the time he prorogued Parliament, Act I, Stephen Harper pursued a high risk, low reward economic plan, focused on one industry.

One industry in need of a low-cost transportation method to move landlocked oilsands bitumen to refineries in the United States and markets overseas.

Calling himself a friend to this one industry, Harper proceeded to expunge environmental and waterways regulations and standards. In cahoots with Canada’s security agencies, the federal government spied on any parties objecting to oilsands expansion, and obstructed any and all attempts at legitimate carbon pricing.

He also used hundreds of millions of public dollars to advertise the virtues of Alberta’s oilsands in North America and Europe. Under cover. At least until recently.

Continue reading Harper’s Leadership: Not so secure, not so pragmatic, not so proven

Dismantling Democracy, Harper-Style

Democracy is at a premium in Canada, today.

Not dead, but in grave condition.

While many pages have been written on the Harper Conservatives’ subversive means of undermining Canadians’ rights, privacies, freedom of speech and dissent, few have documented their totality over the nine-year reign.

Until today. Voices-Voix, a non-partisan collective of Canadians and more than 200 Canadian organizations concerned with the decline of democracy in Canada, catalogued 102 cases where the Harper Government attempted to silence dissenters or advocates, free speech, equality and transparency during their nine-year reign.

Their comprehensive report is a worthwhile read for any individuals wishing to be more informed of the dismantling of Canadian democracy. From silencing voices of marginalized communities and public servants, to limiting the compiling and dissemination of knowledge, Voices-Voix thoroughly itemizes and expands on how the Conservatives used domestic and foreign policy, and Canadian security forces to remove obstacles perceived to be inconsistent with their partisan governance.

Interestingly enough, Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party of Canada, chose this day to release their 32 point plan on how they would return democracy to Canada.

From committing to open and transparent government, to the restoration of evidence-based policy-making, banning partisan government advertising, a real independence for government watchdogs and Parliamentary Budget Officer, and open and fair elections, The Liberals Real Change Plan attempts to reverse many of Voice-Voix’s findings.

Curious timing or logical strategic plan for an opposition party four months before the Canadian election?

There is no Truth without Reconciliation

Truth. That which is true or in accordance with fact or reality. (Oxford dictionary).

Reconciliation. The restoration of friendly relations. The action of making financial accounts consistent; harmonization. (Oxford dictionary).

A commission born on July 1, 2009 to unearth the realities of Canada’s residential schools and their impact over 125 year period on the 150 thousand Aboriginal peoples who were forcibly removed from their homes, beaten, abused, sexually assaulted, and denigrated until the Indian was extinguished from their body, mind, culture and souls.

A commission necessitated as a result of the negotiated and funded settlement of several class action law suits brought by residential school survivors against the federal government and several churches.

A commission that shed light on the six thousand plus Aboriginal children who died while in the care of the Anglican, Catholic, Presbyterian and United Churches entrusted with delivering the assimilation of all Aboriginals into Canadian society.

A commission tasked with finding a pathway for Canada and our Aboriginal peoples. A pathway that would recognize, respect and commence the healing for the three plus generations of residential schools survivors and their families.

That commission delivered an interim report last week. Noting Canada had subjected its Aboriginal peoples to a cultural genocide, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) defined this as the “destruction of those structures and practices that allow the group to continue as a group.”

Continue reading There is no Truth without Reconciliation

Armenian Genocide: Unrealized Denouement

I am a Canadian of Armenian ancestry.

A Canadian who has, at times, struggled with her heritage. A multi-layered heritage born of an insidious act, that weighs on me.

Most Armenians living in diasporas around the world proudly identify themselves as Armenians. Solely so. Some might add Canadian, or American, or French, or any other nationality their family adopted as part of their emigration. But, the majority of Armenians were raised to fiercely nurture and preserve their Armenian culture and Christian Orthodox religion, and more importantly to teach it’s history to the next generation.

A history that includes the twentieth century’s first genocide.

A genocide inflicted upon 1.5 million Armenians by the Turkish Ottomans commencing in 1915.

Armenians remains.
Armenian remains, found in a trench.

With Pope Francis’ public acknowledgement last week, the world at large is aware on a grander scale of both the genocide and of its upcoming one hundredth year anniversary on Friday, April 24th. It must be said that Turkey does not admit to nor recognize that a genocide took place, preferring to state that there were deaths on both sides as a consequence of the First World War. You can read Prime Minister Erdogan’s statement here, made on the eve of April 24, 2014.

I am curious what term my readers would use when 1.5 million citizens of a nation of two million, disappears.

I’m not going to present a historical recounting of the Armenian genocide. There are scholars far more adept than I could ever be in this subject area. If you would like to read about it further, there are many online sites that provide documented details as well as newspaper articles, including those found in the Toronto Star recently, about its context, and it’s affects on subsequent generations. Continue reading Armenian Genocide: Unrealized Denouement