Michael Harris' book Party of One details how Stephen Harper has corrupted Canadian democracy. Now you can add John Ralston Saul to Harper's enemies list. Saul's latest book, The Comeback, focuses on the harm Harper has done to Canada's First Nations and the environment. Saul is particularly critical of the prime minister's use of omnibus bills. Lawrence Martin writes:
Saul devotes a chapter of his book to detailing how so-called ‘budget’ bills have been used by the Harper government as camouflage for making controversial changes to law — for example, downgrading environmental protections and changing unemployment insurance eligibility — with very little debate.
The Conservatives have defended the bills by saying that other governments have used them as well. This, says Saul, “is an intentional misrepresentation, which is to say, it is a lie.”
Other governments passed omnibus bills:
Past governments have built packages of laws, Saul acknowledges, but he argues they tended to be linked by a single theme, were smaller than the Harper government’s omnibus bills and were subjected to more debate. The Harper bills are designed, he says, to short-circuit public debate: “The democratic function is eliminated as a reality. What remains is pro-forma voting.”
In twelve months, says Saul, “Parliament was bullied into radically altering 133 largely unrelated laws through two acts.”
The pushback against dictatorship is now out in the open. Only time will tell if Canadians are paying attention.