Parliament to Reconvene September 18

System of Party Rule in Utter Disrepute

Pauline Easton

On June 21 Members of Parliament unanimously agreed to adjourn the House of Commons until September 18. The Senate adjourned on June 22 until September 19. The Hill Times characterized the now-adjourned House sitting as "acrimonious and raucous." This echoed the views of numerous political commentators who say that political discourse at the federal level has reached an unprecedented low of personal attacks and confrontation.

Personal attacks and factional fighting are certainly par for the course. Nonetheless, personal attacks and confrontation do not constitute "political discourse" at all. They are symptoms of the contention between factions which vie for political power, the use of positions of power and privilege to impose things by fiat -- i.e. dictate and declarations or back door deals -- and the stranglehold over the polity of police powers and electoral machines run by unscrupulous individuals and companies whose main role is to make themselves very wealthy by running smear campaigns, filling the airwaves with so-called issues which divide the polity and the like.

This makes the description of political discourse as "acrimonious and raucous" which appears to be true, a block to going to the heart of the matter of what is taking place as a result of the failure of the system of party rule to function. One of this system's primary goals has been to shore up the pretense that the people are represented by either the party in power or the parties in opposition or by "their" Members of Parliament. The institutions, arrangements and electoral process which shored up this pretense have lost all legitimacy and credibility. Today, the perception of the vast majority of the people is that they are not represented, that ministers are privileged, self-serving and devoid of a social conscience. Far from taking up social responsibility and being accountable for their words and deeds, to keep their positions they have to be yes men and women whose main feat is to be adept at representing what they are told to represent and forgetting about having any conscience whatsoever. As for the legislatures, which have always been seen as rubber-stamp bodies, today they have become disposable and are seen to be powerless themselves. Decision-making is no longer vested in the legislatures but in first ministers and, on occasion, cabinet ministers or their proxies, acting at the behest of the U.S. administration and Pentagon.

Recent polling itself indicates that the cartel parties with seats in the House of Commons are experiencing a deepening crisis of legitimacy. Frank Graves, President of EKOS Research, commented on June 26 on recent polls which he said should be placed in the context of "long-term pessimism about economic conditions, rising distrust of institutions, and disinformation." He said "I've never seen the country in a darker, more divided mood than we find it today." According to Graves, there is a rise in "affective polarization," expressions of emotional dislike or distrust, not "'I don't agree with you on issue A or B' but 'I don't like you. I don't want you to live on my street. I wouldn't want my daughter to date your kid.'"

Readers should keep in mind two things. One is that polling itself is discredited because the questions are designed to get answers which are themselves disinforming. The second is how one-sided his assessment is. The valid question is whether the polarization Graves and many others lament is between one faction and set of people and another faction and set of people or that it shows the increasingly evident split between the rulers and those they seek to rule and control? Whatever he says about "affective polarization," is because working people from coast to coast to coast are speaking out in their own names to defend the claims they are clearly entitled to make on society for their well-being to be put in first place. They do not trust what are called the liberal democratic institutions or the decision-making process which has been taken over by narrow private interests and ministers who do their bidding.

Pollsters and pundits lament that since the 2019 federal election polling numbers for all parties have barely changed and express alarm that a party can come to power with polling percentages in the high 20s and low to mid 30s and that none of the cartel parties has garnered significant support. They fail to draw the conclusion that the crisis of the institutions of liberal democracy has given rise to a constitutional order which is no longer suitable to the times. The rulers and their institutions reject any hint of the glaring need for democratic renewal. More than ever, they block all participation by Canadians in political discourse and decision-making. Even supporters and members of the cartel parties have become marginal to their manipulation in the hands of electoral machines. There is no dearth of consultants to offer advice to cartel party leaders on how to "break out" of their impasse. Recent advice told Conservative Party leader Pierre Poilievre to "stay out of the limelight and let the government self-destruct with their unforced errors." Prime Minister Trudeau was advised to "relaunch" with new policies and a Cabinet shuffle to get rid of underperforming ministers, and promote those whose seats he needed to win the next election. And so on.

All of this reveals that the anarchy and violence which exist as a result of the neo-liberal anti-social offensive has intensified the dysfunction of the constitutional order. Anarchy has long since been raised to authority which means that the decision-making power of rulers is no longer limited by legislatures said to represent the people's decision-making power. As a result of the insatiable greed and opportunism of oligopolies which have taken control of the state and the public purse, incoherence permeates every facet of life. While it appears as if life is becoming more and more complex because the peoples can count on nothing and predict nothing, in fact Canadians can now see that things are more simple, not more complex. For instance, the belief used to prevail that elections and casting a vote elected a people's representative. This was never true but the belief prevailed. In fact, the vote is the act by which the authority to speak in one's own name is handed over to another who pledges allegiance to the Crown, to a system of rule which represents the interests of the Crown which the people have no say in fashioning. Now people can see clearly that they exercise no control over these representatives and that the system of party rule has degenerated to such an extent that even the so-called representatives have no say over anything within their own parties, let alone in government.

The conditions are lifting the veil off of the perception that the people elect their own representatives. They do not consider that those who rule are an integral part of the society but, on the contrary, see them as existing above it, taking decisions outside of the legislatures and, moreso, outside of the country altogether. Canadians can see for themselves that they are not equal members of the polity but disposable. Equality is not a social relation which the likes of Trudeau can shuffle about and call it gender equality or representation of minorities. Equality is a structure and that structure must be replaced with one conceived of by the people themselves who, by so doing, will even define what constitutes "the people." Members of society are not "born equal" but through their participation in a political process which is empowering, they are able to take the decisions which affect their lives, implement them, sum up the results and go further and then further, in a manner that humanizes the natural and social environment. This means that the process is designed to activate the human factor, social conscience so that both human beings and their social and natural environment flourish. These are in fact one, not many. The structure thus guarantees the equality of membership both within the body politic and on the path embarked on by those who take up the solutions of definite problems, oversee the implementation of their decisions, sum up the results and draw warranted conclusions about what the conditions and the ensemble of relations between humans and humans and humans and nature reveal.

The absence of political power is increasingly felt the more the human right to participate in governance and have decision-making power in all matters that affect the lives of the polity and its members is denied. The striving to realize this right is giving rise to results. These results are sure to become stronger to the point that not only will the absence of political power be felt but the empowerment of the people will actually be recognized as a new phenomenon which the people have brought into being themselves. The upcoming parliamentary session will bring this to light even more as the contention between factions deepens the crisis of the constitutional order and demands for its replacement with a modern one grow louder and more urgent.

This article was published in
Volume 53 Number 8 - August 2023

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