Tuesday, February 09, 2010

The Real Assault on Democracy

While Stephen Harper has provided obvious fodder in the last few months for the assertion that our democracy is crumbling, we ought not to lose sight of the fact that the real assault on democracy is being perpetrated by the Liberals. Harper throws wrecking balls at democracy, but Liberals are the water damage that erodes the foundation. Which is more insidious? I believe the duplicity and surreptitiousness of the Liberals is ultimately worse. Firstly, because Liberals are no better than Conservatives and secondly because the public, sadly even "progressives", repeatedly fall for the illusion that Liberals are an answer to the erosion of democracy and the future of Canada. Two examples come to mind from today's news.

In a real democracy, there ought to be a functioning progressive and critical voice represented in the spectrum of mainstream media. In Canada, for instance, even red necks, beer guzzling populists, and potbellied army loving mullet wearing males who revel in the destruction of the planet regularly are reflected The Toronto Sun and the National Post. Similarly, smarmy careerists and opportunists of middling intelligence burdened by colonial guilt but not really willing to do anything substantive about it and who equate democracy with Liberalism and conflate pragmatism with entitlement will find themselves reflected in The Toronto Star. What about a critical Left perspective? Wholly absent from mainstream media (yes in part owing to failures of the Left as well).

To anyone who has ever doubted that The Star is anything but a shill for the Liberal Party, you need to look no further than than today's paper which leads with a vicious, calculated and sensationalistic attack on Adam Giambrone. That an alleged affair by a mayoral candidate would make the news is not surprising. What is surprising is the newsbroker. If the Toronto Sun (which I'm sure is relishing piling on Giamrone) or Sue-Ann Levy (expect her hysterical contribution soon) had led the charge of such an attack, I wouldn't have blinked, but this was perpetrated by The Star; and in a fashion meant deliberately not only to sully his character but to destroy his political campaign. For right-wing Puritans the news of an affair would have been enough, but you add the revelations of the political staging of his live-in relationship and you add a whole new layer of dishonesty and opportunism. And what do Liberals notoriously excel at? Yes, staging, co-ordinated photo-ops, creating false appearances, and win at all costs opportunism.

Here's another take on events, about as substantiated as the Star's revelations. This entire episode reeks of gutter politics, precisely those not unknown to that prototypical Liberal, George Smitherman. Wonder if he's ever used his office inappropriately. The Star story is far too crafted and is deliberately nuanced to undermine the political campaign.
This is clearly not done in the interests of the public, but transparently politically motivated. While various candidates stand to benefit from this crippling blow to Giambrone, Smitherman has the most to gain in that it virtually makes him an uncontested front runner. I'm not suggesting that the Smitherman goons have paid this woman to come forward (not that it's beneath them), rather that the changing political culture at the Star, as the unabashed mouthpiece of the Ontario Liberals, is such that it too now shamelessly engages in the same sleek, demeaning and nefarious kind of politics that characterize the modern Ontario Liberals.

I mean, even if what is reported is accurate, is it really that reprehensible that Giambrone would attempt to minimize his relationship if trying to seduce someone else?
I certainly hope we never reach the day when all of our correspondences, especially those about which we have an expectation of privacy, become public. You can bet, however, that if someone did come forward with allegations about Smitherman's inappropriate sexual or professional behaviour, The Star would not take the lead.

Lastly, I understand that tomorrow across Ontario will be held a forced ratification vote amongst the province's 9000 or so "full-time" faculty, a majority of whom are really not at all full-time but partial-load (which means no class limits, no job security, no pay for prep or evaluation). My understanding also is that the average annual salary of these faculty is just over 30000. My sense is that the dispute is hardly about a bunch of overpaid facultyThere are also about 8000 part-time & "sessional" teachers who do the bulk of the teaching, but that's a whole other story.

For the membership to accept the imposed final offer is quite simply is a capitulation to the continued undermining of collective bargaining and democracy in this province. The attack on this constitutionally protected right was brazenly started by Mike Harris who shamelessly repealed anti-scab legislation, made union certification more difficult and decertification easier, even repealing a law that had allowed farm labourers to unionize.
Here's my problem: The current Liberal government swept into power promising to reverse the damage only to surreptitiously continue the assault on organized labour. Each time workers are legislated back to work, each time a forced ratification vote is granted, it only naturalizes these insidious assaults on democracy. And it is precisely in recessionary times that we must not cede ground.

For the record, a forced ratification vote is nothing but a calculated attempt to circumvent a duly elected representative union executive and its bargaining team by ignoring its legitimacy and attempting to sway the membership directly. It is neither endemic nor helpful to reaching negotiated settlements.

P.S. Sociopathic military leaders? That's only the second place I'd go looking for sociopaths. Number #1 location in Canada for sociopaths: Bay St., Toronto.

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