Prorogation was the tip of the iceberg of Harper's dismantling of democracy in this country. Prorogation should be viewed within context of Harpers on-going destructive agenda which is documented to a limited extent by the media and by some national NGOs among others. The latest issue which has occurred with the " Rights and Democracy" agency [see article below] is a further example of the harm Harper is doing to this country, our democratic traditions and institutions, and our international reputation. Let's look at some of his attacks on democracy that proceeded proroguing: (a) gagging of MP´s (b) gagging of senior bureaucrats, (c) muzzling the media - cancelling press conferences in the parliamentary press gallery, (d) shutting down essential 'access to information' registry and database, (e) cancelling funding for all manner of civil society groups (social justice, anti- poverty,environmental, feminist, peace ) that recommend sound policy options for a principle- centred society (f) threatening to cut funding for political parties(g) Conservative Party chairpersons walking out on and thereby shutting down parliamentary committees, (g) Harper's manual of "dirty tricks" for his MPs on how to block the function of Parliamentary committees, (h) consulting with corporate sector and not rest of civil society groups as with the National Advisory Council on Competitiveness (NACC) and the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP) (i) producing aggressive attack ads on the opposition between election periods etc. j) failing to implement legislation passed by Parliament with which he disagrees.k) ongoing interference in so-called independent agencies such as the RCMP review, the firing of Linda Keen from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, and now this Rights and Democracy incursion aong others.
According to Ed Broadbent, Founding president of Rights and Democracy, formally known as the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development, this agency that promotes democracy internationally and in Canada, is the latest victim of the Harper government's drive to stamp extreme conservative views on everything it can. He calls recent developments there an "extraordinarily serious scandal."
"You have a government that has put people there not for their commitment to make independent judgments about human rights but to have a specific political agenda. There has been an incredibly vicious assassination of the integrity of an institution established to be independent of the government of the day," said Broadbent.
So we see that along w ith all that has gone before and continues to unfold, prorogation is part of a pattern of abuse of power wherein Harper has shown his disdain for Parliamentary process, for good governance and for responsible, accountable and transparent democratic process.
These are major reasons why the Canadians Citizen's Against Prorogation must continued to act. All groups that rallied across the country should consider forming ongoing citizen's assemblies to work towards the reform of dysfunctional parliamentary and electoral process. In Wolfville, Nova Scotia we have formed a citizen's assembly to keep this disturbing issue and unconscienable behavior of this prime minister in the public eye.
See following overview of Wolfville's intentions [insert below]http://www.novanewsnow.com/article-424660-Wolfville-hosts-crossCanada-rally-all-about-good-government.html
janet m eaton, Co-organizer, Wolfville Citizens Concerned about Prorogation of Parliament
Rights and Democracy shake-up an "extraordinarily serious scandal" -
Public appointments process is used to pursue ultra-conservative political agenda.
by Ish Theilheimer
OTTAWA, February 1, 2010, PublicValues.ca:
Rights and Democracy, the agency that promotes democracy internationally and in Canada, is the latest victim of the Harper government's drive to stamp extreme conservative views on everything it can, says its founding president Ed Broadbent, founding president of the Montreal-based organization formally known as the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development, calls recent developments there an "extraordinarily serious scandal."
Troubles there became public in early January. Rights and Democracy's president, Rémy Beauregard, died of a heart attack immediately after a turbulent board meeting in which he and the Centre's staff were viciously attacked by recent political appointees over grants to organizations working on social justice issues in the Middle East.
Harper's recent appointees charged the grants were going to anti-Israeli organizations with terrorist connections, despite extensive vetting with Canadian and international authorities.
"You have a government that has put people there not for their commitment to make independent judgments about human rights but to have a specific political agenda."
"This is a situation in which the government is using the appointment process to pursue a very specific political agenda that has resulted in an attack on the very integrity of Rights and Democracy,"
Broadbent told PublicValues.ca in a phone interview. Until now, the organization has always had political appointments, he said, "but it has never been subject to direct political influence."
Broadbent specifically requested people with political experience from all political parties to staff the organization. "I wanted people with political experience. The mandate was human rights and democratic development. There's nothing wrong with that. But never once did any cast a vote that had any political connection."
Now, he says, "you have a government that has put people there not for their commitment to make independent judgments about human rights but to have a specific political agenda, specifically about the Middle East. It's incredible."
The entire 47-member staff of Rights and Democracy has demanded that three board members, all recent political appointees, resign. They include David Matas, a lawyer with the pro-Israel B'nai Brith Canada; evangelist Michael Van Pelt of the think tank Cardus, and Jacques Gauthier, "who spent 20 years working on a doctoral thesis in which he argues that Jerusalem belongs to the Jews by international law" according to Paul Wells of Macleans, the reporter who has followed this story best and most closely.
"There has been an incredibly vicious assassination of the integrity of an institution established to be independent of the government of the day," said Broadbent. "It an attack on the internal work of the Centre's staff that has immense international credibility."
"What this does is it reflects on the ongoing interference of this government in so-called independent agencies." He cited the RCMP review, the firing of Linda Keen from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, and the recent attacks on diplomat Richard Colvin over detainee abuse as further examples. "This government either repudiates advice and attacks personally the people who give it, or they don't reappoint people who demonstrated ability and commitment to human rights and democracy."
Broadbent is alarmed by the ban that Gauthier, now President of Rights and Democracy, has put on staff talking to media, the confiscation of cell phones from top staff, and the suspicious disappearance, in a reported "break-in", of three laptop computers from top staff's offices, all located in an 11th floor office building.
It's pretty appalling for an organization dedicated to human rights," he said.
Some news articles of interest include:
How the Harperites ambushed the rights agency, Haroon Siddiqui,
Toronto Star http://www.thestar.com/opinion/article/757981--how-the-harperites-ambushed-the-rights-agency
Rights and Democracy: Did the right hand know what the right hand was doing?, by Paul Wells, Macleans http://www2.macleans.ca/2010/01/31/rights-and-democracy-did-the-right-hand-know-what-the-right-hand-was-doing/
Rights and Democracy rips itself apart, Paul Wells, Macleans Posted: February 01, 2010 Public Values (PublicValues.ca) is a project of the Golden Lake Institute and the online publication StraightGoods.ca
Wolfville hosts cross-Canada rally all about good government
by Wendy Elliott/The Advertiser
Dozens of locals turned out to add their voice in Wolfville to anti-proroguement rallies across Canada January 23. M.Slipp View all pictures Wolfville hosts cross-Canada rally all about good government
BY WENDY ELLIOTT
King County Register
Almost 100 people gathered inside a Wolfville hall January 23 to xpress their concerns about the Harper government´s prorogation of arliament.
Billed as a public discussion and "speak out for democracy," the session was designed to allow all citizens, sitting in a circle, to share their concerns and offer suggestions for change.
Co-organizer Janet Eaton said the protest wasn´t just about proroguation, but to set in context "what´s been happening for the last four years."
Eighteen-year-old university student Jennifer Parlee said, "young Canadians know what democracy is and the country wants it."
She stated the government had descended to petty and personal political ploys.
"Some politicians need to put their differences aside and make the country better," she added.
Ninety-three-year-old Mary Ganong said she´d lived through many governments, and remembers especially the Duplessis regime in Quebec.
"We need to meet more often and let them know how we feel," she added.
Evoking padlocks against unions and police goons, she said, Harper´s tactics are requiring Canadians to get up on their hind legs and scream lest they lose their rights.
Brennan Vogel called for electoral reform, since only 37 per cent of voters elected the Conservatives; and boosted the notion of proportional representation.
Kings-Hants MP Scott Brison told the gathering Prime Minister Stephen Harper had cynically gambled Canadians would not respond to his decision to shut down parliament.
"He gambled wrong. Canadians want a Parliament that works, one that works for Canadians. When Harper shows disrespect for Parliament, he shows disrespect for the Canadians who chose it."
Brison noted Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff has proposed a parliamentary reform package that will prevent a prime minister from abusing the proroguation tool in the future.
"Liberal MPs are working," he said later, January 25.
"I am in Ottawa today with Liberal MPs from across Canada with economic experts to develop policy ideas to address unemployment, youth unemployment and to create the jobs of tomorrow."
The Wolfville Raging Grannies performed three songs about Harper´s prorogation.
"It was clear from the beginning that citizens had come prepared to talk not only about immediate problem of prorogation, but long-term concerns and solutions as well," noted Eaton.
All recommendations were recorded, as organizers compiled a list of actions for possible follow up.
At the end of the more than two-and-one-half-hour session, the group decided it would continue meeting as a kind of "citizens´ assembly," possibly every two weeks until the next election at least. February 6, 1 p.m., was selected for the next event.
Wolfville was one of approximately 60 communities across Canada where citizens gathered to protest the prorogation of Parliament. The anti-prorogation movement gained momentum after a Facebook group formed to oppose Harper's decision to prorogue Parliament - for the second time. More than 210,000 people have joined the site.