The federal liberals have demonstrated how insider elite policy making shuts out the “herd” which does not get to participate in policy making – in this case, democracy has been thwarted thus denying Canadians an opportunity to influence Canadian military policy in Afghanistan. It is tempting – with general Hillier so front and centre – to suggest that Canada has experienced a bloodless military coup.
On the one hand,the lib/conservative elites are agreed that troops should remain in Afghanistan. Mr Dion and Mr Harper made lovely cooing noises to each other and there was little sense of public discord; the right words had to be said to signal corporate elites that all was well and the right nationalistic words were used to placate the upper middle class. So Mr Dion, apparently without a hint of knowledge about irony, says that the liberals will support the mission even though they don’t agree with the timetable AND allow the budget to pass as well which he admitted was not something his party would have constructed.
What did the herd get? Square facts on our military? Help for unemployed? Commitment to infrastructure and the environment, to name just a few burning public policy issues? Nope. Instead, Mr Dion was, the next day, in a contrived outrage about possible conservative influence peddling on the deceased Chuck Cadman. That is obscene in itself. However, that kind of politicking goes on all the time, yet it was picked up as front page news. It was nothing but a contrived distraction from the fact that Canadians were denied a chance to truly debate our role in Afghanistan – this is easily an election issue because it is life and death for Canadians and Afghans. Mr Dion should have been outraged at an extension of the combat role without an election to clear the air once and for all. In Mr Dion and Harper, the elites have MADE SURE there is no public debate – it’s too risky for the profits to be made selling the Canadian military nifty new killing machines. This is too uncomfortably close to a military dictatorship for this commentator.
In terms of shaping public opinion, or in this case, the denial to voice one, this scenario is an important example of how public policy is not the purview of ordinary Canadians. Real policy (combat troops in Afghanistan and the militarization of Canadian foreign policy) is already agreed to behind closed doors and a managed vote is held in parliament. We, then, get the soap opera – there will be no threat of an election over the Cadman thing, but Dion is playing now to those who have no role in real policy development. “Look how outraged I am”, he says. And we insist on calling this democracy! It’s sad and Canadians deserve better than this,
The thing is we can change this. There should be outrage in the streets demanding an election and yet we are silent…….Don’t blame the elites – they are doing their thing because they can get away with it. We should be resisting.