Socialists limit democracy

Photoshopped image credit: Luke

Socialists hate democracy. Although they have to use it to get into power, once in place they will do anything to stay there, and if that means limiting, or even disposing of democracy, then so be it. You must remember that socialists believe that they know what is best for everyone, and if the voters disagree and vote in the other lot, then they are deluded. Remember how Labour spent nine years in disbelief that voters would go for that mean nasty John Key? They thought that they would come to their senses in 2011… and 2014… and even 2017, where they still did not win the election, but were gifted power by a bitter old man with 7% of the vote.

Jacinda is now part of a trio of young, trendy socialist leaders who have taken the world by storm. The trouble is that the other two, Justin Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron are facing severely declining popularity at home, and Jacinda, the latest of the trendy trio, is starting to go the same way. It looks as if both Trudeau and Macron, in spite of their glorious ascension to power, are going to be one-term wonders. In Trudeau’s case, he will find out this year but never fear. A good socialist knows how to deal with minor problems such as elective unpopularity. He is simply going to shut down his opponents and please don’t think that I am joking. He has done it already.

The Washington Post reports: quote.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau?s government recently?passed?more than 200 pages of dramatic changes to the way Canadian elections work. Among other things, the new rules will further restrain the degree that Canadians can exercise their constitutional rights to free political speech and activism. Such regulations were passed with the standard progressive smugness that heavily regulating political speech and activity in the name of fairness and equality is unambiguously virtuous. Righteous self-confidence, however, does not negate the practical consequences of this fundamentally illiberal exercise of state power.

The new legislation seeks to ensure that ?political actors? operate on a ?fair and level playing field,? and will impose ?reasonable limits? on their budgets. Translated to English, this means government has devised new ways to punish politically motivated groups of Canadians, be they environmentalists, social conservatives, business or labor leaders, minority rights? activists or anything in between, who engage in activities such as advertising or ?canvassing door-to-door, making telephone calls to electors and organizing rallies? without first conforming to Ottawa?s rules. end quote.

Remember the Electoral Finance Act, introduced by Helen Clark’s government, designed to limit funds to all parties except her own? In those days, no one would have dared to try to limit free speech, but now it is open slather. If Trudeau cannot win the next election on his own merits, he is going to make damned sure his opponents can’t win it either by severely limiting what they can, and cannot say. quote.

Canada?s formal ?election period? is now capped at 50 days before election day, with the two months or so before comprising a novel ?pre-election? period as well. During ?pre-election? time ? a concept that has no democratic rationale beyond government?s expansive appetite to control political activity ? so-called third parties are treated with as much suspicion as during the tightly regulated elections themselves. Groups and individuals may not spend more than $700,000 on ?partisan activities? and ?partisan advertising? during this period, and must immediately register with the government after spending their first $500. Ottawa expects a full itemized list of all revenue and expenses incurred, including the date and place of every attempt to change a mind. end quote.

Whoops. Sorry. Electoral finances are to be severely restricted as well. No surprises there. quote.

Thanks to these amendments and others, the Canada Elections Actis now impossibly long and frighteningly intimidating. Any Canadian who plans to exert any significant expense or effort in persuading his or her fellow citizens to vote one way or another in next year?s election should immediately retain a team of lawyers and accountants, as there is simply no other way to navigate the dense brush of legal weeds that now govern election-adjacent democratic participation in Canada. Rule-breakers can expect thousands of dollars in fines or even prison time.

Things will almost certainly get worse. The paradoxical dream of a perfectly controlled democracy that inspired Trudeau?sElections Modernization Act (and the many terrible prior election laws it builds upon) is a fundamentally authoritarian project forever finding fresh justification to further constrain citizens? rights.

Without any firmer foundation than speculative, self-interested theories about what hurts their ability to get elected, Canada?s political class has a vested interest in minimizing the political activism of others. Lawmakers, after all, are allowed to endlessly speechify and self-promote in their capacity as pieces of the government, and they jealously guard that perk. ?Third parties? must therefore be portrayed as illegitimate competitors in the way unions and corporations already have.?

The politician?s goal is to monopolize all conversation about policies and priorities, thereby making his or her own leadership seem indispensable. end quote.

Do not think for one minute that something similar could not happen here. First of all, expect a drop in the 5% threshold for minor parties to be passed before the next election, without the promised referendum on the subject. There is nothing stopping the current government from doing that, and we know that Labour, on current polling, will need its coalition partners if they want to hang on to power. Secondly, expect the Electoral Finance Act, or something similar, to be reintroduced before the next election. The only problem here is that an exemption may have to be made for the unions, which is where Labour gets most of its funding. But never fear. Helen Clark must have managed that in the original Act, and so no doubt it can be wrangled again.

There will be no control over the media in Canada. I assume that, like the media here, they strongly support the incumbent government, and it would be crazy to bite the hand that feeds, wouldn’t it? quote.

The other beneficiary of all this is the media. Canadian election law does?not?consider journalists as third parties, even though they?re employees of large corporations who spend a great deal of money influencing what voters think about politics. Perhaps this is because Ottawa has a different plan for them. The Trudeau government recently?unveiled $595 million in fresh funding?to subsidize Canadian news outlets, and a corresponding government committee to identify instances of journalism worthy of subsidization. end quote.

You can bet your bottom dollar that there will not be a lot of conservative media outlets identified as ‘worthy of subsidization’. quote.

These are the trend lines of Canadian democracy at present. A consolidation of influence for those who already have it, while ever-higher bureaucratic barriers are erected to curb the impact of everyone else. Healthy self-governance cannot be sustained with regressive priorities such as these. end quote.

No, but that will not stop Trudeau, and it probably won’t stop Macron either. It certainly won’t stop Jacinda Ardern. As Labour’s popularity starts to fall in 2019, expect some similar moves on the part of the government to do their utmost to stay in power. However there is no need to worry about it. Socialists know best don’t you know.