Thursday, 20 December 2012
Rise of the extra-parliamentary Opposition
Top: Harper at Buckingham Palace
Bottom: First Nations child poverty
Image Sources: Top - Sean Kilpatrick/CP
(obtained from Chronicle Herald)
Bottom - Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press
(obtained from CBC)
The Harper CONs used the heavy hand of the state to intervene and bully unions, both in the case of Canada Post workers locked out of the office by their managers and in the case of private sector Air Canada workers. They deformed Employment Insurance and Old Age Security. They pushed through dumb on crime laws. They've terminated the democratic vote subsidy.
The Harper CONs have fought against equitable funding for First Nations Child Welfare and have effectively spat in the face of Attawapiskat First Nation. They've even brazenly pushed a monster bill to redefine the Canadian State's relation to the Aboriginal Peoples of Canada.
The Harper CONs' fight against the needs of the majority in favour of the plutocratic elite should truly make their deep-pocketed country club Conservative donors proud. This under two year reign of a Harper Majority has featured wildly successful legislative accomplishments for the hoity-toites. They've been a nightmare for workers, aboriginals, nonviolent drug users (if they aren't rich and can't afford the best lawyers), and the jobless, though.
It seems that Harper believes that he's acquired political capital and must spend it.
|May 2, 2012 Canadian|
Federal election results.
Image Source: Wikipedia
Layton's answer was that he'd channel extra-parliamentary pressure.
"It's a question of working with people all across the country to apply as much pressure as we possibly can to the Harper Conservatives. I think Mr. Harper, I'll take him at his word that he wants to work with other parties," said Layton.A lot of the media seemed incredulous (at least from my memory of the press conferences). In some respects, that scepticism was quite warranted. This post started off, after all, with the list of policy changes the Harper CONs rammed through in various monster bills. But the professional punditry's incredulity was also a function of just not understanding that people exist and act outside of the Ottawa bubble. That is to say, that other channels exist aside from electoral politics to affect changes.
("Layton promises to apply pressure". Kristy Kirkup (May 3, 2012). Edmonton Examiner.)
When Evan Solomon interviewed Brigette DePape, for instance, he was flabbergasted that anyone could dare consider anything other than involvement in elections when it came to political action. When DePape mentioned the extra-parliamentary organizing of Arab Spring as something that could inspire civic protests at home Solomon lost it (or, more likely, never had it).
Millions of people did just decide to take action, we call it a federal election, and those are the results. That's how we take action here, uh, you know, we don't have bombing like in Libya. We have a federal election, which ... is the way to do it.
(Evan Solomon, Power and Politics interview with Brigette DePape)When the Occupy movement started up, the pundit class also seemed oblivious as to what this extra-parliamentary thing was. It's not like interest groups such as corporations lobby outside of elections, right? How dare people other than plutocrats pressure a government!
But the Occupy movement gained steam, having a tremendous effect on the (inter) national conversation. The IMF and OECD started expressing concerns over inequality, as did Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney who called the protests "constructive". Positive policy changes did not materialize in Canada, but the right tone was set: jobs, equality, and shared prosperity rather than austerity.
|Image Source: Idle No More|
Closing off debate and ramming through changes by the Harper CONs has lead to an extra-parliamentary Opposition. We'll find out how successful this Opposition is at changing policies and removing unfavourable politicians within the next few years. But one thing is certain: Harper underestimates the ingenuity of the Canadian peoples.
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