Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Selling our parliamentary souls on civil liberties

The farce around the whole Bill C-51 "debate"  gets larger as time passes with more and more MPs playing at being "parliamentarians" as our civil liberties are squandered.

The truly disgraceful position of the Liberals on this is very clear and is reflected in Trudeau's meme posted here. He has straightforwardly chosen to put the Liberal brand and a chance at "governing" ahead of civil liberties.

The NDP has, so far, also been really bad on this as well. The reality seems to be that when a $160K job with massive perks in Ottawa is on the line civil liberties become secondary.

We have to be "hearing from a variety of experts and stakeholders, and Canadians, who can advise us on what present laws already allow, what the bill may or may not permit, evaluate it against the Charter, anticipate consequences, etc. Remember, we're not government, and have not had any prior knowledge or consultation on this bill. It's only been out for a few days, and we want to proceed with reason and information." according to NDP MP Don Davies on a Facebook page.


Anyone with any democratic instinct knows this is a bad bill. Dangerously so. It has been called out as such in multiple forums and by every left and civil liberties group in the country outside of the rarefied halls of parliament.

So far, Elizabeth May, despite being a caucus of only one, is the sole MP to have spoken out strongly about this. May said  "This parliament must not allow the Conservatives to turn CSIS into a secret police force". 

The play at being "responsible" and "governmental" by Don Davies and the rest of the NDP and Liberal caucuses is sad, but should not be unexpected. It is true that civil liberties issues are not what the politicians think will get them elected and do not make you sound "government in waiting".

The fact that the NDP and Liberals have not taken, to date, a stand on this obvious civil libertarian question yet again proves the following point Ralph Miliband made forty years ago:

For one of the most important aspects of the political life of advanced capitalism is precisely that the disagreements between those political leaders who have generally been able to gain high office have very seldom been of the fundamental kind these leaders and other people so often suggest. What is really striking about these political leaders and political office-holders, in relation to each other, is not their many differences, but the extent of their agreement on truly fundamental issues –as they themselves, when occasion requires, have been wont to recognize, and as large numbers of people among the public at large, despite the political rhetoric to which they are subjected, recognize in the phrase ‘politicians are all the same'
Are politicians, other than Elizabeth May, all going to be basically the same on this issue?

Time will tell, but in this era of neo-liberal hegemony and government promoted fear, we certainly shouldn't bet against it.