By Lethbridge Herald Opinon on June 5, 2020.
Canada’s democratic system is under siege.
Last week, the Liberals, with the help of the NDP and the Green Party, suspended Parliament until the fall. In its stead, will sit a Special Committee, at which the opposition is stripped of its key powers and responsibilities. Arguably, we are functioning as an autocracy, rather than a democracy, all under the guise of “unprecedented times.”
I was elected to represent my constituents. >As a >Member of Parliament, it is my responsibility to echo the voices of the people in my riding, into the House of Commons. It is a position I hold with the weightiness it deserves and a responsibility I do not take lightly. > >
Additionally, as a member of the Official Opposition, it is my Constitutional obligation to join my Conservative colleagues in holding the Liberal government to account to ensure Canadians >are governed in the best way possible.
As word of the pandemic and its possible effects spread, >we >very quickly >entered >into >a >phase of closure. >Knowing the pandemic was world-wide and spreading like wildfire, we agreed to suspend Parliament for >a period of time. As the weeks went by and social distancing measures came into place, the recalling of the House >became less and less certain. > >
Despite the Official Opposition’s willingness to work collaboratively with the government to ensure >the safety of all MPs and House of Commons staff, >it soon became apparent – to >the detriment of >Canadians – that the prime minister was >using >this pandemic to avoid accountability. > >
He was and is perfectly comfortable >issuing >media >statements
from his front doorstep, >but >on the whole, >has been unwilling to take questions from members of the Opposition. >
On May 25 Conservatives moved a motion to resume Parliament and deem it an essential service, but the Liberals did not concur. By telling Canadians that Parliament’s role is optional, the Liberals have effectively said there is no real difference between a democracy and an autocracy.
Especially >during a time of crisis, Parliament has >the responsibility >of holding the government to account, yet at every turn, the prime minister has done all that he can to skirt accountability. > > >
If grocery store clerks, restaurant workers, farmers, nurses, doctors and other frontline workers can head back to work and do so safely, then surely Parliamentarians are also able to meet in a safe manner. >Parliament is an essential service and MPs are essential workers. > >
A government that does not allow for effective opposition is not functioning in the best interest of the people. It is operating in the best interest of itself. > >
John Diefenbaker famously said that Parliament is “more than just procedure – it >is the custodian of the nation’s freedom.” >
You see, the >House of Commons is not some random place >simply >used to facilitate the goings-on of Parliament, it is a >crucial part of upholding democracy with debate, scrutiny, opposition, and questioning of the government on all matters that affect the Canadian public. > >
To characterize it as >anything less than >essential is an utter degradation of >our Constitution and the fundamental freedoms for which our ancestors fought. >At the very heart of democracy is the preservation of personal liberty. The guardian of those liberties is Parliament. > >
We have seen a growing trend of limited transparency, accountability and censorship of information. The government wants the Canadian public to be informed, but only with the information they curate. > >
In March, the Liberals indicated they were looking at the possibility of implementing legislation that would crack down on “misinformation” – information the government deems unhelpful. > >
More recently, it was discovered the government had gone ahead with spending $3.5 million to censor misleading information. The Liberals have crowned themselves the arbiters of truth. No debate was had and no legislation was passed to make them Canada’s information czar.
I find this particularly unsettling given >the fact the current government is responsible for spreading some of the most dangerous >misinformation >that has been communicated to the Canadian public. At the onset, the health minister propagated the lie that COVID-19 can’t be spread through human-to-human contact; that closing Canada’s borders wasn’t necessary; that face masks are not effective in stopping the spread. If these aren’t examples of misinformation, I don’t know what is. >If the government is looking to crack down on COVID-19 misinformation, they don’t need to look any further than in the mirror. >
When Parliament >fails >to meet and the government ceases to be held >accountable, it is safe to say democracy is under siege. > >
Parliament is the people’s place to have their voices heard and their questions answered-especially in the middle of a national crisis. It must be deemed an essential service and must resume its full function-for your sake.