Friday, November 16, 2012

We Need Another Charter

We need to go beyond our Charter of Rights and Freedoms.   Conditions on the ground have changed markedly since the Trudeau government formulated what Canadians today with genuine affection call "the Charter."

What we need today is a supplemental charter prescribing the principles on which we are to be governed through this century.  We are going to need clearly stated principles to ensure the social cohesion that will determine how Canadians weather what's coming our way.

Simple things - healthcare; education; measures to redress inequality of wealth, income and opportunity - everything that contributes to a strong and broad-based middle class.

To use a popular term in vogue today, we're going to need a "pivot" to the Left.   This isn't going to be easy given how both the Liberals and the New Democrats have been shoehorned well to the Right.  It's no longer acceptable for the Libs to be Conservative-Lite.  It's no longer acceptable for the New Democrats to be Latter-Day-Libs.

The obsession with economic development has to be treated like any other addiction.   It is taking us down.   The Tar Sands?  Are you kidding?  Richard at Canadian Trends can open your eyes about how the Tar Sands are actually dragging Alberta down.   Everything he says is fact.   Alberta just buried the last leader it had that ever understood the perils and pitfalls that underlie reckless Tar Sands development.

Fossil fuels, generally, are a sub-prime asset.   The governor of the Bank of England got that warning in January from a blue-ribbon team of financiers, scientists and politicians.   Bill McKibben of echoed this in his piece, Global Warming's Terrifying New Math in Rolling Stone.   These findings are also confirmed by the IAEA.   We're in the midst of a massive fossil fuel bubble of enormous financial and environmental dimensions.   Yet, thanks to fracking of shale reserves, we're finding the means to extract ever more fossil fuels even to the point that the United States stands poised to become the biggest oil producer on Earth.   There's a terrifying "feel good" quality to this that virtually ensures America won't be giving up fossil fuels until it collapses.

We're going to have to abandon our obsession with fossil fuel superpowerdom and focus instead on the many other advantages our country affords to meet future challenges.   That fool Ignatieff once described the Tar Sands as the "beating heart of the Canadian economy for the 21st Century."   The beating heart of the Canadian economy is the Canadian people and that's where we need to invest, not in pipelines to ship sub-prime assets with a highly dubious future that could even lead to our economic and environmental ruin.

Unfortunately our governments, in their drift into corporatism, have abandoned their responsibilities to the Canadian people.   They have turned away from the unwritten social pact between the people and their government.   They'll pay lip service to it, they all do, but we need something in the nature of a charter to truly bind them to it.   Needing it is one thing, getting it is another thing altogether.   We might have to await some major social upheaval to right our country's keel.


Purple library guy said...

I'm on board with the idea of a new/expanded charter. I do think it's possible to include some issues, human needs, that only the left seems interested in providing for. But at the same time it has to be as a matter of principle, not a description of specific policies and programs--that's not what a constitutional document is for.

I think the Venezuelan constitution is well worth a look in this connection, including as it does various guarantees such as health care and education, but also ideas of "protagonistic" democracy that are much richer than the typical constitutional ideas of representation.

the salamander said...

Bingo .. you hit the nail on the head .. !

The Charter... !! A Trudeau leftover
In the dull eyes of Stephen Harper, very dangerous..
.. in the way of some jobs, economic experiments,
his government and electoral control.

While you're thinking of how it can be enhanced
brought to higher, distinct value for Canadians
Stephen Harper is looking at how to disparage-damage it..
drag it down. weakening it via pipeline litigation, the Indian Act or whatever loophole can be exploited..

The current example ?

- First Nations treaties are impediment to tar sands, China pipeline, VLCC tankers into Kitimaat and unregulated fracking

- The Charter protects First Nation treaties
The Supreme Court is the advocate for The Charter

- Answer ? Attack The Charter, attack or subvert The Supreme Court.. attack the environment by changing laws that protected it, kill off adverse and problematic creatures such as caribou or orca or bears or salmon by attacking their habitat

If Stephen Harper could just attack Canadians or jail them .. he would.. After all .. Canadians are also impediments to extracting and selling resources.. So he threatens us, attacks our habitat .. Its become automatic.. charities, elders, pensions.. all targets

He actually has stooges that buy into the nonsense. Thank you Mr Baird, for your previous service.. you are dismissed. Thank you Mr Mackay .. dismissed .. Thank you Mr Kenney .. Mr Toews, Mr Fantino, Mr Clemnet .. All dismissed .. and pray your legacy aint as bad as it really appears to be..

No.. you won't get a commemorative stamp Mr Harper..
If you do.. I hope it includes a tube of lipstick and a pig.

susansmith said...

Salamder, it is not only the Harper Conservatives who want to undermine the Charter of rights and Freedoms but also Ontario Liberals. They passed legislation, Bill 115 (with help of PCs) that prevents collective bargaining for education workers, and states they can't seek recourse from the courts in contravening Labour law and human rights law.

And in a by election in September, Justin Trudeau sent out a robocall telling voters to vote for the liberal candidate, to give the Libs a majority and thus pass the human rights violating legislation.

So both Liberals and Conservatives both see the "Charter" as an inconvenience when it as seen as inconveniencing them - just sayin!

The Mound of Sound said...

I totally agree, PLG. We need to wrest control of our government from the influence of corporatism. That's not going to be easy and, even if achieved, it will have to be guarded with great vigilance.

Change is coming and, by all accounts, it's already setting in sooner and more fiercely than we had predicted. The issue becomes who gets to control how we respond to these impacts? The way our governments operate right now, the default option is "disaster capitalism." If we don't like that, we have to change it and that means changing the ways we consent to be governed.

Time is not on our side. The people we're up against know it.

Bill Longstaff said...

I have always been intrigued that constitutions have a habit of omitting the most basic rights of all, those of food and shelter, and in a modern society one might add health and education. I was impressed, therefore, when the South African Constitution included all these. We might revisit ours keeping theirs in mind.

The Mound of Sound said...

Hi Bill. I think we need to enshrine not just specific rights but also general values upon which our society is founded. Many of the articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, notably 12, 18 and 22 through 26, should be explicitly restated in a charter.

We seem to be getting to a point at which we need to prescribe standards by which government shall interact with the Canadian public.