20 May 2013

Democracy Crisis In Canada

An Open Letter to His Excellency the Right Honourable Governor General of CanadaDavid Johnston C.C., C.M.M., C.O.M., C.D.


Canada is in crisis.  Citizens need you to exercise your authority and preserve our system of responsible government.

Canadians have become aware that, amid scandals and anti-democratic activity, Prime Minister Stephen Harper intends to request proroguing of Parliament in early June.  In as little as two weeks, the Prime Minister intends to silence debate, thus avoiding answering for his government’s actions. 

If successful, this will be the third occasion Prime Minister Harper has used prorogation avoid responsibility.  In 2008, PM Harper used prorogation to avoid a non-confidence vote.  In 2009, he used it to avoid answering for the Afghan Detainees scandal.  Now, he appears set to use prorogation to duck questions regarding his Chief-of-Staff buying a Senator, among other issues.

The Government of Stephen Harper has become the least-democratic and least-responsible government Canada has had.  Its offences against democracy are varied and numerous: Charter Rights violations; intimidating advocates; bullying government employees; terminating bureaucrats for exercising their duties; hindering or halting investigations; and much more. 

PM Harper denies the core principle of responsible government - that government be responsible to Citizens.  His actions have shown contempt for Canadians and for our democracy.  Stephen Harper uses omnibus budget bills to avoid debating legislation; even as Parliament readies to vote on the current budget, we still lack information on Budget 2012.  This Government stalls or blocks Access To Information requests, hides behind legal privilege, and, in the new Budget, will restrict Citizens from participating in public hearings.  The Conservatives routinely move committee discussion behind closed-doors, away from our scrutiny.  This Government has repeatedly refused to provide information on multiple issues, from the treatment of Afghan detainees to the cost of new fighter jets.  It has shut down departmental archives, thereby preventing Citizens from checking facts.  The Harper Government is now moving towards direct control of the Canadian Broadcast Corporation, thereby eliminating a key public accountability service.

The Conservatives have implemented frightening restrictions on our civil service.  The new Code Of Conduct policy requires all employees of the Government of Canada to be loyal to the Harper Government; to not speak against it, even in private; and to obtain approval for public statements.  Failure to comply results in loss of employment.  This policy not only violates our Charter Rights to freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression; it also violates the Canada Labour Code, as it prevents union members from disagreeing with the government.  This Duty of Loyalty policy has already seen extensive use against our scientists and librarians.  And recently, civil servants received emails linking them to the Harper Government’s Economic Action Plan, and inquiring how they will vote in future - an obvious attempt at voter intimidation, and a gross offence against democracy.

The Harper Government has also targeted Canada’s volunteer sector for loyalty.  The Canada Revenue Agency has notified charities that engaging in activities deemed ‘political’ will cost them charitable status.  Not-for-profits risk audits for similar activity.  Step by step, this government is stifling dissent, stamping out discourse, and erasing the rights of Canadians.

This government is acting against the best interests of Canadians, is refusing to be responsible to the Citizens, and appears bent on creating an autocracy in the person of Stephen Harper.  The Loyal Opposition is unable to hold this Government to account.  PM Harper has engineered and manipulated the Senate to guarantee his domination. Citizens who protest are either ignored by Harper or targeted for intimidation.  The voices of Canadians are being silenced.

We cannot simply wait two years for election day.  By then, irreparable damage will have been done to our democracy.  Stephen Harper will have made it difficult, if not impossible, to oppose him.  In two more years, we may no longer have elections at all.

Excellency, Canadians need you.  Citizens cannot themselves legally stop this Government.  Action must be taken now to preserve democracy.  Otherwise, our future is bleak.

As a Citizen, I humbly request, Excellency, that you discharge the duty entrusted to you: to preserve our democracy.  I request that you exercise your authority as Head of State for Canada to remove from office those who have violated the sacred trust placed in them by Citizens.  Please, restore balance to our system. 

Do not prorogue parliament and permit another loophole-escape from public accountability; ensure that we Citizens learn the truth. 

Under Section V of the Letters Patent, please remove from office such Senators, Ministers, Members of Parliament, or other individuals - of any party - who have acted against Citizens, who sought personal gain over duty, or who have otherwise disgraced the values of responsible government and democracy. 

Withhold or withdraw Royal Assent from any and all legislation which runs counter to the Charter, or to the principles of democracy. 

Act within your power to lift policy and legislative restrictions on dissent and discourse, as all Citizens should be able express their political views without fear of retribution.

When Citizens have been able to review the actions and behaviour of those who act in our names, and when democratic balance has been restored, please dissolve Parliament that Canada might have a proper, free, and fair election. 

As you noted recently, Excellency, a Governor General’s reserve powers are rarely used, but are of supreme importance to preserving democracy.  The time to act has arrived.  Canada needs you.  Democracy needs you.  We Citizens need you.

Please, save our democracy.


Jeff Rose-Martland
Citizen of Canada


  1. Well written Jeff I support your action and hope there are more people who will do the same. Canada is certainly are Country in crisis and our present Government under Mr Harpers rule needs to be stopped. Notice I wrote rule not leadership of democracy.

  2. Darlene Scott20 May, 2013 15:00

    How can anyone signed in as 'Anonymous' support a public statement? Seriously! Unnamed words are blather. Have the integrity to sign your name. This is an excellent column filled with courage by a named source. (If I discover that Jeff Rose Martland is a pseudonym or pen name I will eat my words.) Darlene Scott, St. John's, NL

  3. no Darlene, I'm me and I'm local to you.

    As for 'anonymous' - I defend the right of people to remain so under this government. Far too many people have been targeted for speaking up against this government; so many, that I am wondering if CSIS will be at my door soon, if CRA is going to audit me, or if something equally horrible will happen. So i applaud those who sign but understand those who do not.

  4. Darlene Scott20 May, 2013 17:59

    Hi Jeff, you seem like a fellow who can handle a strong opinion, so I felt comfortable making that rant. I agree that people are free to post anything anonymously - and I feel that way because I believe I live in a free world - not because we should fear speaking out. Yes, anyone has the right to say anything he or she wishes, within reason, but I personally, do not feel compelled to give a moment's notice to an 'opinion' that has no source. It is just the way I feel. Anonymous words are empty words. How can you call elected officials to account if you do not account for yourself? To me, it is about credibility when speaking publicly. Thanks for listening. Your blog is new to me, and I will check in again. ~D

  5. In case anyone is wondering WHY I wrote this, or speculating as to my mental faculties, there is a very, very simple reason:

    What if the GG needs a request to act and nobody wrote one?

    Wouldn't we all feel a like a bunch of losers if the reason the Governor General never intervened was because no one thought to ask him? Do I expect this to work? No. Do I hope it will? Yes. But the bottom line for me is that I made sure someone requested an intervention. That way, there can be no excuse.

  6. The Governor-Genital will of course do nothing.

    He is just another appointed toady of Harpo.

  7. Well written letter. I agree fully with everything you state in it. When it comes to writng something like this I wouldn't know where to begin and maybe this also is what puts a lot of people off.
    Don't know how to "comment as". Since I have signed so many petitions over the last few years I do wonder if my name is already on some list, but its not like we are having to fight for our democracy in the trenches yet people. I'm willing to give his Excellency the benefit of the doubt.
    Lori Campbell
    Golden, B.C.

  8. Thank you Jeff for putting into words what needs to be said. I would also like to thank you for allowing me to copy, sign and send this letter on to the GG and, to share it with all of my friends to do the same. It won't be said that we didn't try.