Saturday, April 2, 2011

Michael Ignatieff and the Liberals Were Wise to Choose Democracy as Their issue

John Whyte, professor emeritus of law at Queen’s University, has an excellent Oped piece in the Toronto Star: Pillars of democracy wobble

Stephen Harper is campaigning on a scary coalition, and his smoke and mirrors handling of the economy. Jack Layton is rightfully championing the causes of the disenfranchised, though some of his proposals may be a little out of line with our current financial situation.

But Michael Ignatieff has made the focus of his campaign, our loss of something more important than anything else: our democracy.

And that tramping on our democracy also speaks to many other concerns, from secrecy, to the silencing of dissent. We saw how easy it was to inspire 225,000 people to join a facebook group, just days after Stephen Harper called his second self-serving prorogation.

And how easy it was to organize rallies for democracy, to let our politicians know that we were watching.

And Michael Ignatieff has the knowledge and experience to make impassioned pleas.

His great grandfather, George Munroe Grant, was instrumental in Confederation, when he convinced Nova Scotians to join. It may still have taken place, but not when it did. An uncle, George Parkin Grant was a strong Conservative, writing a book lamenting Diefenbaker's demise: Lament for a Nation.

His grandfather, George Lawson Grant wrote a portion of the Chronicles of Canada. His father was a long serving diplomat and his mother the niece of Vincent Massey.

He has the history of Canada and our democratic institutions in his veins. As Mr. Whyte reminds us:
Canada’s current experience raises questions over the integrity of responsible government. For instance:

• The government possibly contracted for the silence of one of the parliamentary officers — Public Sector Integrity Commissioner Christiane Ouimet — and interfered with her work.

• It refused to hold International Cooperation Minister Bev Oda responsible for failing to meet the essential standard of disclosure in dealing with Parliament and its committees.

• It refused to provide parliamentarians with the cost implications of new policies and new legislation defeating Parliament’s ability to hold the government to account.

• It has merged political campaigning with governmental administration thereby gaining partisan advantage at public expense. These actions are not just bad government, or a source of political embarrassment; they represent an erosion of our constitutional structure.
Michael Ignatieff will make an excellent prime minister.

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