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An open letter to parliament
It's about time someone told you people in the House of Commons and Senate what a disappointment you have become to us ordinary Canadians.
You’re supposed to be lawmakers and role models for this wonderful country of ours. It’s a cruel irony, therefore, that so many of you and your bureaucrats have come under criminal investigation for fraud, bribery and breach of trust. Still others are accused of covering up additional reprehensible behaviour.
Have those of you who we elected forgotten that we hired you to represent our best interests? Should we instead be regarding you with embarrassment or quite possibly disgust, or even fear? As for you appointed senators, no one believes anymore the myth of your independence.
Let’s be blunt. Revelations in recent months make clear that both houses of our Parliament have become one oligarchy run out of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). Agreed, every so often there’s an outbreak of democracy. It’s called a general election. Immediately thereafter, however, we revert back to the oligarchy.
Perhaps it’s no accident the scandals on Parliament Hill are providing momentum for the PMO’s campaign to abolish the Senate. That would eliminate a potential counterbalance to the PMO exercising even more power for which it could not be held accountable.
Signs of revolt in the Commons within the prime minister’s own party are encouraging but they also further expose the malaise that has befallen our democracy. And the scandalous behaviour of senators appointed by the prime minister and to be fair, his predecessors, reveals the Senate in its present form serves no useful purpose.
The Senate was originally designed to occupy a vital role within our system of government. The Constitution gave it responsibility to protect citizens from abuse of power. This included:
1. Challenging bad legislation coming from the House of Commons: When exactly was the last time that occurred?
2. Protecting minority rights: Let’s ask our First Nations about that one, and,
3. Protecting provincial rights: Nothing there . . . again.
So, what has the Senate been doing lately worthy of the $100 million a year it costs us taxpayers? The answer: Not much. Why? It has become a puppet of the PMO. An independent Senate, with authority, would prevent that and restore our democracy.
The dismal records of both chambers call into question whether Parliament has left itself with any moral authority to govern. Tragically, each of you has failed to understand these scandals are portraying Parliament Hill to us ordinary Canadians as an ethical wasteland inhabited by partisan narcissists.
It’s time for you to stand up and show us you have what it takes to fix it, otherwise please have enough class to leave our employment. The state of your guardianship over our best interests brings to mind a quote by Thomas Jefferson: “When government fears the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny.”
James Osborne is a graduate in political science from the University of Alberta and a former journalist and journalism teacher. He is also an award-winning author, now semi-retired in Vernon.