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.