This is what government must do. We identified a problem: the democratic deficit. And we took immediate action by implementing transformative change. Let me pause here for a minute. Transformative change. What does that mean? To me, it means a fundamental shift in approach and direction, it is not stop-gap measures imposed incrementally. It requires a determined focus and a relentless drive. But the reward is tangible results, progress you can see and gauge.
-- Paul Martin in a speech to the Empire Club (April 16,2004)
It's no news that the 'democratic deficit' is alive and well, living in the person of Paul Martin --- but unless you're looking for it, and are reminded often enough, the little things can get buried or be forgotten.
From day one it was clear Martin's actions were not in synch with his words. Behaviours which would have crippled the credibility of any other party -- such as the parachuting of candidates -- were open practices. Criticism was never answered. Apparently a shrug is enough to get Liberals off the hook.
Martin, for all his mushy public persona, has a reputation of a 'my way or the highway' personality. Even members Martin's own caucus were outraged when Martin refused to allow a free-vote to all members of his party on Bill C-38 (same-sex marriage) -- cabinet ministers were told they must toe the party line, and dissident's were encouraged to skip a vote altogether.
Then we had Glen Murray selected for the Round Table on the Environment after his failed election bid. Despite the Commons Environment Committee rejecting this blatant patronage appointment, and Parliament subsequently voting 143 - 108 against it, and later still, the Environment Committee voting not to pay Glen Murray an estimated $40,000 for his place at the Round Table -- this past week, Paul Martin spokesman Scott Reid said the appointment will go ahead and that Mr. Murray will be paid.
Saturday past, we have Paul Martin dodging questions about Art Eggleton's senate appointment from Anthony Germain from CBC radio's The House (click: Listen to the Latest Program -- about 17 minutes in). Germain pressed Martin, asking more than once whether Eggleton's appointment was made in return for having given up his seat to Ken Dryden. It's an interesting listen for those who have the stomach to hear Paul rationalize his continued stay at 24 Sussex.
Now it appears Martin's ministers are taking a page from his book. Kate at small dead animals gives us this heads up about the military's ombudsman stepping down because she was obliged to forward sensitive complaints to Defence Minister Bill Graham.
All of these little things, and so many others that I've simply forgotten over the past year and a half -- each taken on its own is a sad commentary on democracy in Canada.
Taken together as part of a larger picture and in the context of the past 13 years, they are a frightening harbinger.
I sometimes joke that we live in an elected dictatorship, but with each passing day, and each successive election it becomes less funny.
If like me, you wonder whether Canadians will ever stop ignoring, forgiving and justifying anything (L)iberal, Mike Jenkinson from the Edmonton Sun has an interesting piece.
canadianna, hoping for a better Canada