Saturday, December 1, 2012

Consequences of a Troubled Canadian (De Facto) Democracy

The graph shows the rapid growth in Jewish settlements in the occupied territories: West Bank, Gaza Strip, Golan Heights, and East Jerusalem, and the relative static Palestine population in these areas.  
The bias of the Canadian Conservative government towards Israel in regard to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict has reached a new height from Canada's recent closure of its Iranian embassy: Canada Foreign Minister Baird voicing, without formal invitation, at the United Nations the Conservative government's resistance to United Nations status for Palestine. The United Nations voted in favor to grant Palestine recognition as a "non-member observer state", 138 votes to 9 votes (with 41 abstentions). The Canadian conservative government voted against this measure. The vote moves Palestine closer to full member voting rights at the United Nations. Apparently, Israeli authorities are worried that Palestine may use its increase in status to make claims against Israel in the International Criminal Court.

Canadians should be concerned that the Canadian Conservative government is acting biased on the world's stage, and putting another country's interests before its own. In the FDA's opinion, diplomacy except in extreme situations should be pursued with neutrality. By taking sides in a conflict with no end in sight will only worsen the conflict. The Conservative government has demonstrated it is oblivious to this basic principle. According to Saeb Erekat, the Chief Palestine negotiator, "I believe this [Canadian conservative] government is more Israeli than the Israelis, more [Jewish] settlers than the [Jewish] settlers" ("Palestinians Paint Canada as too Extreme", Globe and Mail, December 1, 2012).

In 2010, the Canadian conservative leader and prime minister is on record in saying that he will put Israel's interests before Canada's interests. (In addition, it may be perceived that the Canadian government has put money and industrial development ahead of the Canadian environment by fast-tracking industrial projects, censoring Canadian scientists, targeting charities opposed to the Conservative agenda, removing Canada from the Kyoto Protocol etc.)

Harper's Bias for Israel

Nature Journal Criticizes Canadian Government's Censorship of Canadian Scientists

What belies such an extreme Canadian government? Has the democratic process in Canada failed Canadians by giving such an extreme government majority control of the parliament?

Notable facts about the Canadian democratic system and how the Conservative Party of Canada came to have a majority of the Canadian Parliament:

1. In the 2011 general election, the Conservative Party received 39.6 percent of the vote (and 24.3 percent of the overall vote), and because Canada has failed to adopt a proportional based electoral system, the Conservative party received a 54 percent majority of the parliament.

The majority of the parliamentarians determine the federal election laws. In the FDA's opinion, for several decades the Liberal Party of Canada and Conservative Party of Canada have legislated particular self-serving election laws (and progress in other areas such as banning corporations and labor unions from making contributions). Some of the laws may be deemed unfair and inequitable, similar to how the U.S. Republicans and Democrats have created a federal election system titled to their advantage over third and new parties.

FDA Advisory on the U.S. System

2. Within the context of the Conservative majority, the Canadian parliament is based on the Westminster parliamentary system, with strong links to the British monarchy. Within this system, the Canadian prime minster, literally, has dictatorial powers:

Prime Minister's Powers

3. From the 2011 general election, there have been thousands of robo-call complaints. Presently, Elections Canada is investigating complaints in 52 ridings (1/5th of the Canadian federal ridings). These robo-calls are comprised of misleading information about the locations of poll stations, harassment, and political influence, which may have aided the Conservative Party's election win.

Robo-Call Scandal

4. As mentioned, the Canadian election process has many holes which allow unfairness and inequity as illustrated by a private media consortium which decides which party leaders get to participate in the two national debates during election periods. In the 2011 election, four leaders out of nineteen were allowed to participate. And similar to the United Kingdom, Canada has almost no regulation of the public and private mass media political content during election periods, and consequently, the mass media election coverage tends to be narrow and imbalanced.

The reality of the Canadian system is that it is far from perfect, and favors a political status quo and large established political parties. The only opportunity for the Canadian electorate to bring about real change is through the ballot box every four years or so (and increasingly and indirectly through non governmental organizations). But with an election system titled heavily to large established parties, the voice of Canadians is contained and controlled. The way forward is murky due to the systematic controls in place which favor a segment of the population.

As long as the majority of the parliament continue to determine the election laws, the way forward for Canadians will be difficult, and Canadians will continue to face the consequences of this system.

To understand the nature of the Canadian system, I encourage readers to listen to the FDA interview of Dr. Alain Deneault:

Canada's Mining Legal and Tax Haven

The FDA is in process of completing an updated electoral fairness audit of the Canadian federal electoral system, which will objectively and comprehensively show the merits of the system and the flaws in the system, and how system can be improved. This report will be released in February of 2013. 







Mr. Stephen Garvey, Foundation for Democratic Advancement, Executive Director






Question for Readers:

What will it take for Canadians to have an independent citizen body determine Canada's federal election laws, rather than political parties in the parliament?


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