What is at stake? – Editorial

In a few days, we will be heading to the polls to elect our next parliament.

Many people agree that this election is likely to prove to be another exercise in futility as political pundits and polling organizations predict a similar distribution of seats in the House of Commons among the major political parties, give or take one or two.

The parties themselves probably think the same way.

At least in our area, we have seen little, if any, effort on the part of the opposition Liberals and New Democrats to swing the electorate their way.

In the fourth election in less than eight years, voter apathy is quite understandable. Add the provincial and municipal elections that have been taking place over the last two years, electorate is more than justified in feeling a voting fatigue.

Yet, in some ways, this election could be carrying the seeds of a major change in the approach to governance in this country, a change, which may, in time, transform the way we are governed.

The issue is responsibility and accountability.

The Harper Government, as the prime minister wants it to be known, is the first in Canadian history found to be in contempt of Parliament. A minister of this government was discovered to have personally doctored documents; MPs of the governing party intervened in the election process of a constitutionally autonomous body, namely the Canadian Wheat Board.

Yet, Stephen Harper and his party are running a campaign on how well they have done in keeping Canada from falling further into recession, how IMF and OECD are praising the country’s economic institutions and how they will maintain their economic performance if they are elected again.

That the sound banking system that saved Canada from falling deep into recession was created long before the Harper government came to power does not even need mentioning.

But it is a pity that the opposition parties fail to discuss the underlying danger heralded by the misconduct of the ministers or MPs of the governing party. They fail to bring into the debate the fact that it is the rule of law that is at stake, the rule of law that distinguishes democracy from authoritarian or totalitarian rule.

Isn’t it fair to assume that a next PC government under Mr. Harper could take it as a green light to acting with impunity if they receive the same or more percentage of votes on May 2?

Will it not be the electorate that has given the PC party the tacit backing to continue to disregard the legislature, ignore the statutes, bylaws or regulations in their practices of governance?

As a voter, I am very disappointed at the low level of principled debates in this campaign as well as in the lack of charisma on the part of all party leaders and in their inability to raise the real issues to the level they deserved.

With clumsier leaders feeding more apathy on the part of the electorate, looks like we are in a downward spiral in terms of practising parliamentary democracy.

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