In Ontario, democracy is dying. The signs are everywhere. Martin Regg Cohn writes:
Judge for yourself, based on this day in the life of our legislature:
It begins with the morning question period. In fairness, it is not called “answer period,” but the premier of the day is expected to make a pretence of debate — perhaps resorting to self-deprecating humour or self-righteous anger to diss the questioner, dismiss the question, diminish the opposition, buttress his own government, but at least address the topic (or in rare instances, reply to a serious question with a serious answer).
Not today. The Official Opposition NDP asks about budget cuts, but Premier Doug Ford has a better idea.
Not only will he not answer their questions, but he will ignore the topics entirely, instead reading from a list — literally — of unrelated government announcements.
When the NDP asks about the future of ambulance services, the premier replies by boasting about his “buck-a-beer” strategy, bemoans “illegal border-crossers,” and decries the “job-killing carbon tax.” On cue, his majority Tories jump to their feet with standing ovations.
The loyal opposition shall be forever stonewalled. But whenever more faithful Progressive Conservative backbenchers ask their prepared questions, Ford’s cabinet replies with exquisitely and obsequiously scripted answers.
Ontario’s so-called First Government For the People has turned parliamentary democracy upside down: It shall be answerable only to its own members, but unaccountable to elected MPPs from opposition parties who captured more than 58 per cent of the vote.
And, outside the legislature, it's more of the same:
While the politicians talk past each other inside the chamber, anti-abortion protestors are outside on the front lawn. Progressive Conservative MPP Sam Oosterhoff slips out to address the crowd, vowing to make a woman’s right to abortion “unthinkable in our lifetime.”
Oosterhoff clearly feels strongly about the right to protest when the topic is abortion. But when a group of seniors walked into his Niagara constituency office for an unannounced book reading, days before, in protest against budget cuts to libraries and book clubs, his staff called police — and the MPP backed them up. (Beware seniors-cum-bookworms who stage sit-ins, let alone read-ins.)
Behold the Conservative Wave in Canada. It's not about the people. It's about power -- the people be damned!