Whither Canadian Democracy?

To Kick-and-scream, or whimper?


If you drop a frog in a pot of boiling water, it will jump out as fast as it can. But if you place it gently in a pot of cool water, and turn the heat on low, it will float there quite serenely. As you gradually heat the water up, the frog will be further subdued, exactly as one of us would be in a hot bath. And before long, with a smile on its face, the frog will unresistingly allow itself to be boiled to death.

Do we Canadians suffer from the Frog-in-Boiling-Water syndrome? As our democracy erodes in the hands of Stephen Harper, we don't react. Rather than demanding justice and democracy like the Egyptians are doing . . . as hundreds upon thousands of them flood the streets, screaming for what they know they deserve. . . we wait silently, or whimper softly, as our democratic freedoms slip away . . . and before we know it . . . it's too late.

Harper has promised to change Canada beyond recognition: what we are famous for - Rocky mountains, pristine oceans, glacial rivers and lakes, old growth forests, beavers, maple trees - are all just data in Harper's "resource development" mission a.k.a his environmental-apocalypse mission. He will turn Canada into a barren landscape with nothing but criss-crosses of pipelines - and he will do so without hesitation or conscience. And the 39% who voted for him will have to explain to their children and grandchildren, the role they played in the destruction of this country.

On December 4, 2012, Canada has 2.5 million protected rivers and lakes. As of December 5th, we now have just 82 protected rivers and lakes, thanks to the contentious changes done to the Navigable Waters Protection Act in Harper's latest, rushed-in omnibus bill.

Just a week after introducing it, the Canadian government is hastily pushing through another omnibus bill (C-45). Among some of the really manipulative maneuvers you can find in the bill, one of the worst is the "changes to land management on aboriginal reserves" that it seeks to put forward - of course without consulting First Nations leaders themselves, and physically restraining them when they tried to come forward in protest.

According to Article 18 of the UN Declaration of Indigenous Peoples, First Nations peoples in Canada "have the right to participate in decision-making in matters which would affect their rights, through representatives chosen by themselves in accordance with their own procedures, as well as to maintain and develop their own indigenous decision-making institutions."

With Bill C-45, the voices of First Nations leaders are being muffled, ignored and censored in decisions that affect their treaty rights and land. This is an imperialist act of violence and a violation which illustrates that the federal government has neither respect nor basic regard for First Nations peoples. But such is our history . . . "Canada" muffling, ignoring, censoring, murdering, criminalizing these people. As this latest proposition of the Harper administration goes through, much of the public remains in the dark about the real, dirty, genocidal history of the founding of Canada -'cause it sure isn't taught to us in grade school! And through bills like these, the brutality of our colonial legacy continues in full force.

And this aggressively colonialist government of ours humiliated us last week with it’s recent vote against Palestine’s status at the UN – but this shouldn’t come as a surprise considering the hawkish, militant stance of our foreign policy as of late, forsaking our once eminent peacekeeping stature. No better than our neighbors to the south, our government too is in bed with dozens of corporations. Rather, our government is the oil industry. They've walked all over us, now they trample us - but we barely peep.

If this were a functioning democracy, it would require our participation - for us to say "no" when we feel it, and to say it until we are heard. Look at footage of Egypt, as violent as it is, that is what it looks like when a real democracy is struggling to be born. Hundreds of thousands are shouting and fighting in the streets . . . and over what? . . . Over the fine print in the drafts of a constitution. Mea Culpa! As Harper does the same thing, we order another latte. Wither our revolutionary fervor and democratic dynamism?

Our resistance exists but it is weak and divided. We can't see that we are all on the same team. We love to cherry-pick fights and hate on each other instead of directing that anger where it is needed. We love to argue over tactics and ideological rhetoric instead of moving from our guts in urgency to defend what is being stolen from us in the blink of an eye. But above all, we're too comfortable . . . even as the water in the pot gets hotter.