"Technically, we might still call it a democracy," Lawrence Martin writes this morning. But, "in practice it's a democracy in name alone." Martin, perhaps more than any other Canadian journalist, has tracked the decline of Canadian democracy. And he has not been partisan about it. He brought the same careful analysis to the abuses of the Chretien government.
But, he writes, "with the billy-club governance of the Harper era, we are breaking new ground in the subverting of the democratic process." Canadians seem to have finally cottoned to what is happening. The Globe and Mail reports that Harper's reputation for competence and trustworthiness has taken a hit:
When Canadians were asked two months ago to name the federal leader they believed to be the most competent, 38.1 per cent said Mr. Harper. In the latest poll, that score dropped to 24.2 per cent.
When asked which leader they trust, 31.7 per cent said Mr. Harper in February compared to just 20 per cent in April. And, in terms of who Canadians believe has the best vision for country, the Prime Minister’s numbers fell by a similar amount.
In what is perhaps the government's most Stalinesque move to date, government scientists were accompanied by media minders to a conference in Montreal. Martin, whose experience stretches back quite a ways, writes:
The Harper Conservatives have been called control freaks a thousand times, but this is wild, even for them. This is the type of thing I used to see when, back in the 1980s, I reported from the Soviet Union.
No self respecting democracy would allow this abuse of power. The question is, how much self respect do Canadians have?