“Information is the lifeblood of a democracy. Without adequate access to key information about government policies and programs, citizens and parliamentarians cannot make informed decisions and incompetent or corrupt governments can be hidden under a cloak of secrecy.”
Montreal Gazette, 2005
Stephen Harper became Prime Minister in 2006, and since then he and his caucus have worked with diligence to drain that lifeblood. A most effective tool has been funding cuts to slow the flow of information, followed closely by looking the other way when government ministries, agencies, and anyone subject to information legislation simply refuse to comply with the law.
In a parliamentary system like ours, the Prime Minister is but one office, and culpability is shared among the many who form the government. Almost every day, our newspapers give us cause for alarm, and one can wonder just how long before the media itself becomes a target. Farfetched perhaps, but history tells us that far worse happens when people ignore what is in front of them.
What do we do about this? Unfortunately, too many Canadians align with a comment in a letter to the Toronto Star editor in September of 2013 which read, “If you don’t know what’s going on, you have a perfect excuse to do nothing.”
We hear too the talk of choice. If not what we have now, then what? Consider the “Ford Solution.” In the fall of 2014, David Soknacki was announcing his withdrawal from Toronto’s race for mayor. He wouldn’t endorse another candidate, but as he turned away from the microphones, very clearly all could hear him say, “My cat would make a better mayor than Rob Ford.” Does it really matter who the next Prime Minister is, as long as it’s not Stephen Harper?