Given the revealed character of the man and his government, it is now hard to recall Stephen Harper as a freshly elected leader of the new Conservative Party and the promises he made in opposition. He promised us he was going to bring a new level of openness, transparency and accountability to Canadian government. He promised us he was going to convert the Senate into a truly democratic institution.
Recent revelations in the ongoing "robocall" scandal have revealed the true nature of the man and his government. Stephen Harper and his government have been shown to present the greatest threat to our cherished democratic institutions and practices that we, as a nation, have encountered in our history.
Having finally achieved the majority status he has long desired, Stephen Harper and his government have finally shown their "true colours." This is a man, and a government, that considers democracy and its institutions to be little more than a nuisance to be circumvented, when possible, and violated, when not. His government is the most closed, secretive and undemocratic we have seen in our entire history. If left unchecked, Stephen Harper and the Conservative government will reduce Canadian democracy to nothing more than a memory.
As a concerned citizen, I expressed my extreme disappointment and outrage at the conduct of the Conservative Party and their tactics during the last election campaign in a letter to Cathy McLeod, MP. My letter began: "As a concerned citizen and long time legal practitioner, I am writing to express my outrage and extreme disappointment at the tactics utilized by the Conservative Party of Canada during the last election. Investigative journalistic efforts by CBC and others leave little room for doubt that attempts to deprive contrary electors of their democratic and constitutional rights constituted part of a strategy employed or condoned by your party.
“The time for denial has long passed. It is now time to act honorably and take responsibility for actions that can only be seen as a fundamental affront to the most basic democratic rights we cherish as the cornerstone of our society.”
The response I received began: "I am dismayed by these allegations, and I can assure you that I want to get to the bottom of this as much as anyone. Voter suppression is never acceptable, and the Conservative Party categorically denies involvement in any misleading calls."
In the face of clear and compelling evidence of deliberate efforts to deprive contrary electors of their right to effectively cast their votes against the Conservative Party, the best response Cathy McLeod and her government can provide to appalled Canadians is a categorical denial of what is obvious. Do they believe we are stupid?
This is just the most recent, and most egregious, example of the utter disdain Stephen Harper and his Conservative government have shown for democracy in Canada. This is the same man who, when faced with a political "checkmate" that would have toppled his minority government, took the unprecedented step of effectively closing parliament by using an anachronistic device known as proroguing parliament.
Those who still value our democracy and our democratic institutions owe it to ourselves and our country to clearly and loudly respond to Mr. Harper and his government with one voice saying, “No, we will not allow you to reduce democracy in Canada to a memory.”