CBC “At Issue” panel thinks democracy at risk in Canada

Last night on the CBC’s “At Issue” panel, the three regular panelists and host Peter Mansbridge worried aloud about the state of democracy in Canada.  Is it, in fact, at risk? Well, although each panelist had different reasons for thinking democracy in Canada was, indeed, at risk, the implication was that it was somehow all the fault of the Conservative “minority” government because:

  1. It had promised to do things differently, but allegedly hadn’t; 
  2. The chickens were coming home to roost, whatever that was supposed to mean; and
  3. Since the opposition was too weak to bring it down, it somehow was lacking in accountability and transparency. 

Reality check! I don’t recall news readers, panelists or anchors at CBC complaining about the state of democracy when the Liberal Party of Canada (LPOC), under Prime Ministers Jean Chretien and Paul Martin, dominated the federal scene for thirteen years — in solid “majority” parliaments where no one could call them to account for anything. Talk about a double standard!

However, all that said, I actually do agree with the “At Issue” panelists, albeit for very different reasons. Democracy is at risk in Canada and has been ever since the federal election of 1993. Because, up to that point, in living memory at least, there were always two political parties that could form a government. Meaning, while one governed, the other was viewed as a government in waiting — a fact that kept the governing party on their toes. That was no longer the case after the 1993 election because the PC party had been decimated, rightly or wrongly, winning only two seats. As a result, from that day forward to 2005, the right was weak in this country. Then, the Progressive Conservatives and Canadian Alliance came together to form the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC).

Now, however, because of the Sponsorship Scandal, which can’t be swept away with Conservative “faux scandals” and distractions, or the claim made that the “In and Out” is of the same severity (which it isn’t), the Liberals are weak. Meaning, they and their media supporters have to stop blaming the Conservatives for everything, including the CPC attack ads. If there was no truth to the ads, no one would be paying attention.

In fact, there is nothing to stop the LPOC from using similar attack ads. All they have to do is raise the money to do so. And, yes, there is the catch 22 situation. If you are not offering anything new or you have simply anointed your leader, then money is going to be hard to raise. Well, it is long past time the Liberals did something other than project their own weaknesses onto the Conservative government and party.  The risk of course, if they don’t, is the same thing that happened to the PCs in 1993 will happen to them in the next federal election.

So, it is time the LPOC and the Liberal parliamentary caucus systematically renewed themselves by:

  1. Showing some real remorse for the Sponsorship Scandal and clearly articulating why it will never happen again;
  2. Choosing a different leader that Canadians can identify with and one that has gone through a democratic grassroots leadership race;
  3. Putting forward social and economic policies that average Canadians can relate too — particularly those of us who were progressive conservatives — that don’t put us further into deficit; and last, but not least,
  4. Not reflecting their desperate “we are entitled to our entitlements” and “we are the natural governing party” attitude in their haste to get back into government.

In other words, Canadian voters know what they are doing. They did not make a mistake in the 2006 and 2008 election campaigns when they elected the Conservatives under Stephen Harper. And, they know, instinctively that two strong federal parties are what Canada needs to make it a strong, competitive and vibrant democracy. However, whether or not that happens, is now up to the Liberals, not the Conservatives.

C/P Jack’s Newswatch.

31 thoughts on “CBC “At Issue” panel thinks democracy at risk in Canada

  1. and don’t forget the left adding the hate bill basically anything you say agains minorities your considered a hatter. thank svend Robinson and the Liberals for that. that is why people like Ezra levant and Others have to go see this humanrites committies the thought police. yup democracy is endanger in Canada but not from the right from the left.

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  2. Pingback: Sandy: CBC “At Issue” panel thinks democracy at risk in Canada | Jack's Newswatch

  3. Absolutely agree with you Sandy.

    It’s really sad the way the Liberals have been unable to accept the people’s choice to govern. Instead of concentrating on their own mess they’re busy muckraking.

    HOC QP is one sad spectacle to behold these days but it is an indicator of where their priorities lie and it’s not with what’s best for the country.

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    • You know Liz J — Back in the late 1950’s when I was in high school, and I lived in Ottawa, we took a class trip to the House of Commons. It was John Diefenbaker vs Lester Pearson. The proceedings weren’t televised then so we didn’t know what to expect. But, I can still remember the same kind of screaming and yelling as goes on now. I was horrified as were all my classmates. The parliamentarians were acting worse than children, not either leader but their underlings.

      I also remember some reading newspapers, some thumping their desks (neither of which they are allowed to do now) and others hollering insults. These were the people running our government. We went back to school and talked about how the next generation — us — would do better. Well, that would have been Trudeau versus Joe Clark and then Mulroney. Meaning, we didn’t do any better because that is the nature of politics. And, yes, the media does pick sides as it did then. It just didn’t affect regular folks because news was so much slower then now. And, there were no 10 second sound bites or televised politics shows, other than W5 — at least that I can remember.

      So, I decided to take a step back when I looked at today’s situation. Yes, the attack ads are hitting their mark. But, there is a reason they are resonating because they are the truth, albeit said in a negative tone of voice. But, unlike the “soldiers in our streets,” they are in Ignatieff’s own words or voice.

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      • But, one thing I haven’t said out loud, which I will now, I am hearing far too much complaining and whining coming from Conservative supporters — against the media in particular. As I said at 1:46pm, things are not that much different now than they have ever been — it is only the nature of the blogosphere, Twitter and Facebook, that makes issues so immediate.

        Anyway, the last thing the Conservative government needs right now is to be seen as media victims. They are not. If media personalities are being unfair, just ignore them and move on. It works on both sides of the political spectrum and will do so even more after SunTV comes on board on April 18th. In fact, the fighting will likely only intensify, thus turning off even more people from politics.

        Sigh.

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  4. Liberals could at least show up for work,
    do their job and vote on bills,
    do their job in committees (opps are a majority)
    and hold public servants to account (Intergirty commish Ouimet) rather than using committees for playing gotcha on the Harper Govt

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  5. Wilson, I agree with you. The liberals *itch & moan about the Conservatives Proroguing Parliment, yet see nothing wrong with not showing up for work.

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  6. No you know whats at risk?The internet.I dont see the Liberals or Dippers speaking out about the CRTC screwing the canadian internet users over bandwidth caps.Ive spent half this month restricting internet use and im barely keeping under my cap.
    This will kill small business and competition in the ISP area.Its time to break up Bell and Rodgers who both have gotten too big and are now a threat to Canadians.

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  7. I agree with all the criticism of the liberals here, but it makes me pretty depressed to think that you all find the conservatives any better, let alone so much better. They are a party of yes men and women that stands by as their leader thumbs his nose at Canadians and exemplifies partisan disrespect. And he’s managing our money like a liberal to boot.
    I realise voters are being forced somewhat to cheer their team on, but I would rather hold all their feet to the fire and insist on some honesty and accountability. If we don’t have that, we don’t have much.

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    • Robin — Party discipline exists in every party. Without it nothing would get done and messaging would be a shambles. So, both Liberals and Conservatives, once in a position to govern, are yes mean and women. Do I think the Conservatives are better? Yes, I do if we are comparing them to the current crop of Liberals. Now, someone like John Manley? That would be different. But, therein lies a problem. Who on the Tory side could replace the PM and who would be better than Ignatieff. Besides the PM and Mr. Manley, where have all the statesmen gone?

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  8. Democracy in Canada will be in “trouble” when I lose my vote because I AM CONSERVATIVE!

    Ready to vote anytime, and to help, and to fund and to do what it takes to get the CPC a majority.

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  9. Sandy @ 1:46 pm, it would be quite a shock to witness such behaviour in the HOC back in the ’50’s, we were so polite and reserved back then!

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  10. Sandy, I am a strong Conservative; and I am a little disgusted with some memebers of the Conservatives doing under handed things like not admitting a mistake. I know that that is not unique to Conservatives that all members of Parliament regardless of political stance do the same thing. Second, I am disgusted with certain MP’s in Question Period and on political shows behaving liked spoilt children. If my kids did that when they were growing up they would be grounded for at least a week.

    On another note if Mr Manley could have been talked into leading the LPOC, I could have supported him the las three LPOC leaders have definitely been wanting.

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  11. You know the elections will be fought on “can this government be trusted with a majority?”

    Oda Affair
    In and Out fiasco does not pass smell test
    contemp of parliament (jets, jails…)
    Census mess.

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    • Doug — Given the most recent polls, we already know which political party Canadians “trust” the most. So, give it up. There was no “Oda Affair,” the “In and Out” did not pass the smell test for all the parties and was stopped after the 2006 election campaign and there was no “census” mess. The contempt of parliament is pure partisan nonsense and will go down in the history books as just that, partisan hooliganism.

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    • Doug — Duceppe could never be in Cabinet. A partner for voting purposes? Yes. But, his base would rebel if he was actually in the governing caucus. Moreover, not possible given their sole purpose is to break up the country. Of course, I realize you were pulling my leg, but in case any visitors get the wrong idea.

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    • CDwight — Not much substance? You obviously didn’t check out my link of the Harper government accomplishments. Five years of tracking and synthesizing what I felt were most important.

      The other issue was the fact that the only substance that came out of any of the leaders’ mouths last night came from Mr. Harper.

      Beyond that, bloggers like me are volunteer. What more do you expect? Have you done more? If so, by all means, point me in the direction of your site! Because, you won’t find much “substance” today in the mainstream media that is for sure.

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      • By the way CDwight — The thread you just left a comment on was dated March 11th in case you thought it was related to last night’s debate. It wasn’t.

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