What is the name of this country… (first, try answering without clicking on the links)…
- The head of government, with the support of only a minority of voters, and only a minority of parliamentarians, runs away from the opposition and prevents them from voting in parliament?
- Where the unelected head of state, directly representing a foreign power, assumes the right to suspend parliament because of opposition to the government?
- Where the opposition parties form a broad coalition to bring down a government that has lost the right to rule?
- Where the head of government, instead of dealing with economic crisis, tries to rush in legislation banning public workers from striking, limiting the rights of women to sue for equal pay for equal work, and tries to eliminate public financing for opposition parties?
- Where the head of government tolerates no internal dissent and rules his own party by fear?
- Where the head of government has previously driven parliament to the edge many times, either to force yet another election and more waste of public funds, or to cow the opposition into support?
- Where the head of government hides behind the national flag, creates a crisis of national unity by pitting one part of the country against another, in a bid to save his job?
- Where the head of government throws labels like bombs, assailing his opponents with inflammatory, loaded terms like “socialists” and “separatists“?
- Where the ruling party receives donations from private, corporate donors, while targeting his opponents in crass American political jargon as upholders of “vested interests” and “special interests”?
- Where the ruling party eavesdrops on private conversations between members of the opposition, tapes their conversation, and then broadcasts it?
- Where the ruling party tries to illegally bribe opponents in parliament to join the ruling party?
- Where the head of government launches a defamation suit against parliamentary opponents, when they correctly alleged that he had in fact tried to bribe a member of the opposition?
- Where the ruling party, itself an alliance between parties, proclaims any attempt by the opposition to form a coalition “undemocratic“?
- Where the ruling party and its supporters blast parliamentarians, elected by the majority of citizens, as engaged in an “illegitimate grab for power,” when it’s the minority that retains power and dictates as if it were a majority?
- Where the head of government tries to curtail the national media, keeping them from asking him too many embarrassing questions?
- Where having lost the confidence of parliament, the ruling party instead turns to a national propaganda campaign against opponents?
- When after rejecting opposition proposals, the head of government suddenly claims he wants to work with the opposition he assaulted, and only once parliament has been suspended so he would not have to face them?
- Where in the meantime an economic crisis proceeds unchecked, and there is no parliament in session to work on measures to offset the crisis?
Did someone say “a country in Africa”, like Zimbabwe for example? A country in the Caribbean? A country in Asia? How about Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, who has won numerous popular elections, this story can’t be about him, can it? Are these not the usual suspects when the Western mass media speak of anti-democratic regimes, so different from anything in the West?
No, instead, it cannot be a story about Venezuela. No, the name of the country is not Zimbabwe, but rather one I am code naming “Zimbabwe North,” also known as CANADA.
As I have “joked” with friends, I live(d) in a parliamentary democracy — only without parliament, and, without democracy for that matter. Canada, in the minds of some of its deluded citizens, is “beacon to the rest of the world” when it comes to democracy. Some of its other deluded citizens believe that, no matter what, our politics are superior to those of the United States. I believe that one of the benefits of this long brewing crisis is that some of this conceit has finally been trashed.
For those with an anarchist perspective on these events, they are all good. The state is faltering. The centre is falling apart. Those with most to benefit from the dominant way of doing politics are at each other’s throats. Institutions are losing legitimacy, and a federalist empire is renewing its internal fractures. Megalomania, deceit, and corruption, previously existing only as allegations, now reach the light of day as truths. This is wonderful. Indeed, I am not sad.
However, this is also a moment that people at the grass roots can seize and try to make a difference, to make their presence felt in public politics.
I am therefore recommending that Canadian readers visit the Coalition for Change website, and make plans to attend local rallies. See also SmartVote2008.ca. In addition, I warmly recommend one of Canada’s very few answers to the U.S.’ “Democracy Now!” and that is the rabble.ca website.