There are some things, for all our vaunted expertise and powerful scientific tools, that we can simply not seem to answer. We may never be able to figure them out. They are the mysteries of the universe. And this is one of them:
A new poll released by the charitable organization Samara suggests Canadians are less satisfied with their democracy compared to eight years ago. Last spring, researchers conducted a poll using a question identical to one used in 2004, asking respondents about their level of satisfaction “with the way democracy works in Canada.”
Seventy-five per cent of Canadians expressed at least some degree of satisfaction in 2004. But when asked again in 2012, the number expressing satisfaction dropped 20 points to 55 per cent.
The board of trustees of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg is behind a request for more museum content about “positive” Canadian stories, according to documents obtained by CBC News.
In a letter last July, a manager at the museum, which is slated to open in 2014, wrote, “The board, in their role as guardians of the institution’s mandate, recommended that some material changes be made to the visitor experience and asked management to find some solutions.’’ The letter indicates a desire to maintain a “positive, optimistic tone’’ and increased Canadian content in a gallery called the Peace Forum.
CBC News reported last week that the museum has experienced an exodus of employees, amid allegations of indecision and political interference on the part of management and the board of trustees. The board is appointed by the federal government.
There’s just no possible way, no matter how hard we try, to answer this question. Maybe it’s just random fluctuation. Maybe our previous confidence in the system was an aberration, and we’re just supposed to have no faith in our public institutions. After all, it’s not like anything has been going on to cause such a slip:
The federal government has refused to give Parliament’s budgetary watchdog copies of the bids that ultimately won nearly $33 billion worth of work for shipyards in Halifax and Vancouver under the government’s national shipbuilding strategy.
Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page had requested the bids submitted by Vancouver’s Seaspan Marine and Halifax’s Irving Shipbuilding as part of a study into one of the massive National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy’s key projects.
This isn’t the first time the watchdog has encountered resistance from the federal government. The PBO also famously engaged in a battle with National Defence after the latter refused to co-operate with a PBO study into the F-35 stealth fighter.
The PBO eventually estimated the fighter program would cost about $30 billion, a figure National Defence vehemently rejected. Several reports this week have suggested that an independent assessment of the F-35 program by auditing firm KPMG has put the cost between $30 billion and $40 billion.
Maybe Canadians are just fickle. After all, the “strong, stable majority” that we enjoy is doing an outstanding job of fulfilling its campaign promise of responsibly stewarding the Canadian economy. And the people support them, if the glowing praises of Conservative MPs are to be believed (and why wouldn’t you believe them?):
The government has consistently misled Canadians and is continuing to hide the true cost of the F-35 fighter jets being considered to replace the military’s aging CF-18s, opposition MPs charged Friday.
“I don’t see how the minister of defence [Peter MacKay] can possibly continue in his job,” interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae said. “He’s basically been a sales spokesperson for Lockheed Martin, the manufacturers of the F-35, since he took office. He’s denigrated and attacked every person in opposition, in the Liberal Party or elsewhere, who has ever raised concerns or questions about this.”
It’s one of those ineffable mysteries, I suppose. After all, Prime Minister Harper and his team clearly respect Canadian democratic traditions, and have been working closely with the opposition to find compromises that work for all Canadians, not just the handful of reactionary nincompoops who voted for them. And the respect they show their colleagues is palpable:
Government House leader Peter Van Loan apologized in the House of Commons Thursday for using an “inappropriate word” during a heated exchange with his NDP counterpart that led to a brief fracas Wednesday on the Commons floor.
In his comments Thursday, Van Loan maintained the NDP shared blame for Wednesday’s commotion and suggested NDP Leader Tom Mulcair also apologize.
Van Loan said he was upset with a procedural move by the NDP that was based on a mistake made the night before by the deputy Speaker, an NDP MP. “I thought it was inappropriate for the New Democrats to raise a point of order on which they relied on that mistake and somehow suggest it was the responsibility of the government,” Van Loan said Thursday, adding it put him in the difficult position of trying not to criticize the deputy Speaker while defending the government.
And yet, inexplicably, Canadians don’t seem to trust Parliament to make decisions anymore. But why? It seems absurd. What’s wrong with you, Canadians? Can’t you see that this Prime Minister is doing the best job that he and his people are capable of doing? What do you want, a different Prime Minister or something? Pshaw… in order for that to happen, you’d have to demonstrate that this government is incompetent, has been shutting out the opposition, forcing through legislation without an appropriate consultation process, being openly contemptuous of the Parliamentary process, scoffing at the idea of accountability (let’s not forget, this government was voted in on an accountability platform), endlessly repeating trite talking points in the place of actual rational debate, and entertaining wild conspiracy theories about Brazilian anti-Semites whenever their own history of voter fraud was brought up in Parliament. And that would all have to happen in the span of one week.
No, I think we’re better off just scratching our heads and wondering why poll numbers are magic.
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