Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Robbers in the vault
Pretending Parliament. Pretending Democracy. Robbers in the Vault.
By Robin Mathews
One of the keepers of the democratic system has gone, for all real purposes. The wholesale sell-out of press and media in Canada is serious - and easy to explain. It's an important, smaller part of the grim picture. Permitted by governments to concentrate ownership and control beyond all reason, press and media have paid back. They've not only agreed to support government; they've become government, sharing its views and advocating privatization, favouring reactionary "think-tank" propaganda, parroting the half-truths of federal cabinet ministers, championing support for U.S. wars - and much more.
Big private corporation collectives now are, or control, or partner with government as never before. The few owners of press and media operations in Canada have become part of "the big, private corporation collective" more and more owning "democratic" governments.
What can we expect of press and media in Canada in the fight to save democracy? Almost nothing.
The parliamentary system is, itself, in a state of rot. Try to get an answer as a serious, ordinary Canadian, on an important issue, from anyone in Canada's Parliament. Good luck. Cabinet members pass the buck or - like Stockwell Day, Minister of Public Safety, and Rob Nicholson, Minister of Justice - they refuse to acknowledge any correspondence but Evangelical Fawning or Reactionary Flattery. It's that bad.
Go to MPs. Donald Savoie, in his new book, Court Government And The Collapse Of Accountability In Canada and The United Kingdom, says MPs are the people who can save the day, and the genuine life of Parliament. But the MPs choose to avoid the work they should be doing. They don't have the guts to save Parliament for the people who elected them to it. They don't answer correspondence. Or they pass the buck. Or they say they can't do anything on important questions. Or they find another kind of excuse. And they do as they're told.
Are many, many of them bribed, coerced, harassed, ordered into silence? Yes. All of those things. And that's because we're in a new reality being disguised in verbiage. The verbiage - poured out by cabinet members, columnists in 'the big press', "experts" in the media - is that Parliament (representative democracy) is changing and reorganizing on behalf of efficiency, quick response, and effectiveness.
That's a lie. And it's even conveyed by Donald Savoie. "The private sector", he writes, "has been in the ascendancy for the past thirty years, while bureaucracy has been under attack from several quarters". (p.10) He says, in addition, "the desire to get things done as quickly as possible" has led Prime Ministers to set up "court government". (p. 326) Nonsense.
Look at the opposites Savoie offers. They are "the private sector" against "bureaucracy". The real opposites are Private Corporate interests employing financial and economic coercive power to gain the ends of private greed and to destroy all resistance - pitted against the elected representatives of Canadians working in a complex structure to understand and to realize the needs and aspirations of their electors (as Private Corporate interests take over more and more of the real power, located in the cabinet).
Savoie isn't in the condition of many MPs - "bribed, coerced, harassed, ordered into silence". But he reveals a terrible failing of academics. He hasn't fought on issues, hasn't bloodied himself in the arena, listens to what he is told, and doesn't really understand key things - or doesn't want to. Nevertheless, he has written the first sustained attempt to look at the changes happening.
And so, interviewing past and present cabinet ministers, high-ranking civil servants; studying reports and documents; examining machineries like Access to Information, and much more, Donald Savoie seems to miss the essential point of the changes. Why are they happening, and what, exactly, is happening?
Prime Ministers haven't shaped small groups of often unelected "advisors" to get good things done - but to get the wrong things done. Parliament is not changing and reorganizing on behalf of efficiency, quick response, and effectiveness in supplying needs and fulfilling the hopes of Canadians.
The things that matter to Canadians - health care, preservation of the environment, the struggle for peace, care of the vulnerable, defence of Canadian independent control of Canada's natural wealth, for instance, are being down-graded, and/or denied, and/or actively betrayed by Parliament.
Efficiency is not being sought and achieved to satisfy the electorate, but to serve Private Corporations and Private Greed. Efficiency is being sought and achieved in order to by-pass Canadians and to disable Parliament.
Private Greed is, of course, mirrored in the petty larcenies of political interest groups and their friends. But its larger face is the greed of those who manipulate the levers of imperial policy on behalf of the huge corporate interests devoted to gaining wealth and power through rape, pillage, and any other effective method. It is they who create a "War on Terror", generalized hatred of the Muslim world, an insolubly belligerent Middle East, an Africa in endless turmoil and tragedy, a visibly degrading global environment, and a Canada less and less in control of its most important interests.
In their policies human life and human dignity are empty phrases used in after-dinner speeches. To achieve their ends, human life and human dignity must be trampled underfoot. Look around you.
How - on the Canadian scene (and the British one, as Donald Savoie argues) - are Canadians being by-passed and Parliament disabled? Quite simply.
In the always changing democracies of Canada and Britain a structure had been built of delicate but real effect. MPs came from the people (though not always as purely as they should have). The cabinet (government, in effect) was "responsible" to Parliament. It had to answer, that is, to its own MPs and to the Opposition - or be removed. (Governments "fell" and elections ensued.) Cabinet solidarity existed, members making choices together and being "responsible" together. A "failed" cabinet minister resigned. A "failed" cabinet "fell".
Never completely effective, of course, that structure ensured that the people had to be heard. But when the people are heard seriously, Private Corporate greed is restrained. (Strong forms of socialism exist to remove Private Corporations altogether, hoping, thereby, to remove the problem of corporate greed undermining effective government by and for the people.)
When private corporate greed is fully successful, it takes over - becomes - government. That is what is happening now, and the process in Canada is being fast-tracked today by the Stephen Harper group. In alliance with major imperial corporations and U.S. policies, the Harper Group (Donald Savoie would call it the Harper Court) will, if permitted, destroy Parliament completely.
Globe and Mail (August 13 08 A4), for instance, reports a Harper Party official (almost certainly under his orders) has advised witnesses to ignore summons to testify before a Parliamentary Committee looking at alleged fraudulent Harper Party use of election monies. The Globe for August 14 08 A1/A4 continues the story, adding that suspicion is hardening around an allegation of major organization to frustrate Parliamentary procedure (in Committee) by the Stephen Harper group.
That is just one of many pieces of evidence that Stephen Harper and/or his agents - by, in this case, violating a sacred convention of Parliament - are working to prevent the elected representatives of the people of Canada from making Parliament work.
The Stephen Harper group will, if permitted, destroy medicare (to increase private, medical profits); will assist environmental destruction (on behalf of private profit-seekers); will engage in U.S. wars (to please armament manufacturers and U.S. power); will savage services to the weak and the aged (on behalf of profit-driven "care" givers); and will continue giving up Canadian independence and natural wealth (a) to serve U.S. policies and (b) to "internationalize" the power of Private Corporations (for whom, finally, U.S. imperial power exists and operates).
Private Corporate (imperial) power is so entrenched in Canada in our time that any Canadian government will be influenced by it. It happens, however, that the Stephen Harper group is not merely affected by it but is its enthusiastic supporter and collaborator.
Private Corporate Greed moves more and more into power in Canada by simple changes. 1. The cabinet exists in name only; it has been effectively erased. Decisions are made by the Stephen Harper group - elected and unelected "advisors" in and outside Harper's office.
Cabinet ministers are castrated. They take orders from unelected "advisors" inside and outside Harper's office.
2. Harper MPs are, effectively, erased. They are embarrassing propagandists for anti-parliamentary actions and policies. Otherwise, they are gagged - many working hard on non-policy, constituency business in order to secure future votes and to do busy work. They cease, in effect, to be parliamentarians and become local "facilitators". Many have no self-respect and have sold out their integrity completely.
Other MPs, who should be on the front line of parliamentary debate, research, and policy combat, are similarly muzzled by "front office leadership" in their parties.
3.Civil servants are targeted by the "advisors" in and out of Stephen Harper's office. They must "go along" or be erased. That process spreads outward. "Dependable" civil servants are appointed outside government to assure (rancid) policy.
A civil servant in Stockwell Day's department was appointed, in a new initiative, as Commissioner of the RCMP. William Elliott, I believe, shows himself to be a lackey and stooge for the Harper group, holding a lid on moves to clean up the RCMP. An unclean RCMP, apparently, is what the Stephen Harper group wants. One of William Elliott's choicest (publicly visible) Police State moves was to call the Vancouver Airport RCMP killers of Robert Dziekanski to sympathize with them, failing to call Dziekanski's mother to offer his condolences.
4. The "private" sector has been brought into the daily workings of government. That is one more reason to say Private Corporations have "become" or are becoming government. CGI (Information Technology - and other - corporation), for instance, has moved into critically important and confidential areas of both federal and provincial governments and Crown Corporations - as well as the RCMP and the some Superior Court systems.
In at least one case (one that has managed to achieve a little public notice) - the Kelly Marie Richard Dental Malpractice Case - in Calgary, CGI is alleged to have (criminally) entered confidential Alberta government Health and Wellness records, changed them, and gained RCMP, government, and judges of Court of Queen's Bench cooperation to prevent investigation of the alleged crime and to destroy the action for damages.
The Kelly Marie Richard case is one in which three people - a mother and two sons - are seeking damages against orthodontists for whom CGI is defending litigator. The allegations made by Ms. Richard and her sons are very, very serious. The case, fundamentally, is a matter between two parties in Civil Law. But the allegations of misconduct or failure to fulfill obligations of judges, RCMP, Alberta cabinet members, and others force questions upon concerned Canadians about parliamentary democracy. Does the presence of Private Corporation employees in government departments, paid by the Private Corporations and loyal to them, change the nature of civil service loyalty? And are those Private Corporations becoming so powerful they can order wrongful responses from police, courts, and cabinets?
What are Private Corporation employees ordered to do that may destroy the integrity of government and parliaments?
Not only have relatively harmless administrative matters formerly run by civil servants been "privatized". But whole, large bodies of privately employed workers (employees of CGI, for example) have been brought in "alongside" civil servants. The loyalty of privately employed workers is NOT to Canada or the government of Canada but to private corporate employers who are, in fact, invading and becoming government (from inside as well as from outside?).
Much, much more might be said on the subject. Robbers are in the vaults of Canadian Democracy. The threat they pose is masked because they have accessories and helpers in all the democratic institutions Canadians believe are there to assure the safety and the continuing vitality of our "free society". Canadians will learn much by reading Donald Savoie's new book on Court Government (the first I know to address the problem at length). But they won't learn what they should. He fails to identify the seriousness of the threat. He fails to say what the threat really is and why the people who form it won't stop destroying Canadian Democracy until Canadians wake up and throw them out of the vaults.
They are there as Private Corporations, claiming to be the most fitting government for Canadians. They are, in fact, robbers in the vault, and unless they are stopped they will make off with everything Canadians value. And they will make the country a Police State run to please private greed and private ambition.
Thank you, Robin. With the next pre-trial hearing coming up on September 17 for the BC Rail Case, I hope you'll be able to attend and to give us further insights into the puzzling questions of what's going on in this province and particularly in BC Supreme Court with this important trial. I hope that many other people will be in the public gallery of Vancouver Law Courts that day, too, to contribute their views. - BC Mary.