Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Is Trudeau Undermining Democracy in Canada?

This is about more than just the decision to abandon electoral reform although that's a big part of the problem.

Around the world we're witnessing liberal democracy in retreat and the rise of authoritarian populism. It's happening in Europe, Asia Pacific, even on Canada's southern doorstep.

Those working to make sense of this spreading contagion invariably point to populations that become disaffected with their governments and democracy. Part of it is globalism, trade deals their elite foist on them where the promised rewards never quite trickle down. Neoliberalism, of the sort practiced throughout the West, always seems to drive a wedge between the public and their elected officials, their political caste. That wedge creates the space in which special interests can insinuate themselves leading to, first, political capture (think America's "bought and paid for" Congress) and then regulatory capture (where regulated industries stock regulators with their own people) before reaching the terminal point we see in Washington today where executive capture manifests with corporate representatives dominating top cabinet posts.

We're different than the United States but we are under neoliberal rule and it is fueling disaffection. We have a country where a party can lose 60% of the popular vote but still claim 100% of political power.

Think of it this way. Justin Trudeau got his 40% majority mandate on the strength of a good many lies. He told us things we needed to hear. He made solemn promises to create a better Canada responsive to the needs of the public. Then, in the course of less than two years, he reneged on promise after promise.

Does anybody think that Trudeau's jettisoned promises do anything but alienate the public from their government? Pipelines, supertankers, social licence, surveillance reform, GHG emissions reductions shattered by bitumen expansion, middle class tax cuts, green infrastructure and, of course, electoral reform - they all take a toll.

This prime minister is subverting democracy in Canada. It's not that he seeks that result. He simply doesn't care.


Toby said...

Why does the word Anschluss come to mind?

Alison said...

Great post, Mound, great post.

The Mound of Sound said...

Anschluss, Toby? As in Canada becoming assimilated into the United States or the greater global world of illiberal democracy, autocracy and oligarchy?

The Mound of Sound said...

Thanks, Alison. As written on the masthead, this blog is "dedicated to the restoration of progressive democracy." Over the past decade I've gone on a meandering exploration of both progressivism and neoliberalism. A good many Liberals consider themselves progressive by virtue of being ever so slightly to the left of the Conservatives which reduces progressivism to a hollow, meaningless word. In fact progressivism is a series of core principles and values that can be of application across the political spectrum and have become identified with the left simply by default.

Neoliberalism of any political stripe is antithetical to progressivism. It took me a while to zero in on it but I finally concluded that progressivism ceased to operate as a political reality when posterity was expunged from both policy and planning. We left that as an antiquated and quaint notion so that we might proceed to a "because we can" political economy that almost never asked whether, just because we can, we should.

Pamela Mac Neil said...

Trudeau's latest subversion of our democracy Mound is the creation of bill-23. It is a pre-clearance bill that would give U.S. border guards new powers, to question, search and even detain Canadian citizens on Canadian soil. The liberal government proposed this bill a few days before Trudeau met Trump.A gift to appease the hair challenged bully who is now, when his daughter is not sitting there, sitting in the Oval Office.

I have been wracking my brain as to why Trudeau creates policy and legislation that not only is not in the interest of Canadians, but in fact is a betrayal of Canadian interests. I have been trying to understand what motivates him. You have just answered it for me. He doesn't care!

The Mound of Sound said...

Pamela, he doesn't care enough. Perhaps he doesn't want to see how he's undermining our democracy. It could be cognitive dissonance. However, he's not insane which indicates he's motivated by what he perceives will benefit him and his government. Everything has a price for young Trudeau.