Mr. Harper, dissent is vital to democracy

Photo by Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

By Bruce Cox, The Globe and Mail, 6 September 2012 

As leader of the opposition, Stephen Harper was clear on the vital role of dissent in a democracy: “When a government starts trying to cancel dissent or avoid dissent is frankly when it’s rapidly losing its moral authority to govern.” (…)

What should alarm those concerned about Canada’s democracy, however, is how the Conservatives have brought this election war-room mentality into government itself. Rather than engaging with citizens or organizations who disagree with their policies, Mr. Harper’s government has sought to attack, even criminalize them.

One example is the government’s recent revision of its anti-terrorism legislation to include environmental groups as a potential threat, even though there is no evidence of any Canadian environmental group ever employing violence. And recently, this paper revealed that assessments by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police have labelled Greenpeace – a group founded on the Quaker principles of non-violence and refusing to turn a blind eye to the abuses of those in power – an “extremist” organization. (…)

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Photo by Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press.