Atwood, Lewis & Cotler back Voices-Voix in calling for an end to attacks on democracy

For immediate release

Atwood, Lewis & Cotler back the Voices-Voix Coalition in calling on next
government to put an end to attacks on dissent & democracy

19 October 2015 – The Canadian election campaign wraps up today, and the outcome remains highly uncertain. What is certain, though, is that the MPs elected will have important, urgent and unanswered questions to address about the future of dissent, democracy and civil liberties in Canada.

Over the past decade, Canadians have seen their government make drastic attempts at curtailing their right to know, their right to speak out, and their ability to help each other. These changes were documented in Dismantling Democracy: Stifling debate & dissent in Canada, an in-depth report published by the Voices-Voix Coalition shortly before the election campaign began. Disappointingly, many of the questions – ranging from the muzzling of scientists to cuts to refugee health care – have faced little scrutiny during the election campaign.

At the same time, prominent Canadians have been taking notice of the report:

Author Margaret Atwood says:

“We have been witness to a fundamental shift in the tone and tactics of the federal government, moving to shut down debate and dissent. We need to ensure that these actions - from defunding of women's organizations, to limits on free expression found in laws like Bill C-51 - do not become the new normal. Voices' timely report, Dismantling Democracy, superbly captures these concerns, helping us remember what we have lost, and what must be undone by future governments.”

Stephen Lewis, former ambassador for Canada to the UN, states:

“The evisceration of cherished Canadian values should be front and centre in this campaign. And if any evidence were needed, then Dismantling Democracy provides a staggering compendium of political abuse. Voices-Voix has done us all a huge favour by exposing the toxic, near-fatal mix of arrogance, narcissism and autocracy. The examples are stupefying, the analysis is rigorous and the sheer weight of the argument drives us all to recognize that unless the government of Canada changes course, the Canada we once knew is definitively doomed. Dismantling Democracy should be under every pillow in the country, keeping the entire nation awake at night.”

Former federal justice minister, outgoing MP and human rights advocate Irwin Cotler adds:

“Much of the conversation thus far in the leadership debates and otherwise have been about the economy, jobs and related issues. But what is at stake – and not enough is been discussed – are issues relating to the promotion and protection of Canadian constitutionalism, the Charter of Rights, respect for Parliament, the independence of the judiciary, and in particular the protection of our democratic space and civic engagement. The Dismantling Democracy report is an important contribution for that purpose.”

We commend all the organizations and individuals who, throughout this campaign, have sought to place human rights, social justice and equality at the heart of this electoral campaign. We look forward to joining them in our continued work to ensure that the stifling of debate and dissent do not become the “new normal” in Canada.

We also encourage journalists to continue their invaluable work questioning our elected leaders on their commitment to these crucial issues, particularly in the coming days as the electoral picture becomes clear and the new government's priorities are being set.

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More information:

Tim McSorley, Voices-Voix Co-ordinator: (514) 561-9919
Voices-Voix website: http://voices-voix.ca