From Canada’s “new” government, some old ideas

(Canscene) –Some recent actions by their self-styled Canada’s “new” government show that Stephen Harper and his followers are running on old concepts and harping (pun intended) on themes that seem remarkably like flogging dead horses.

However, particularly disturbing are two recent moves made possible, not through acts of Parliament but as targets toward the $1 billion in spending cuts announced by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty.

Most conspicuous were — for the second time– the elimination of court challenges and the abandonment of funding to women’s advocacy groups.

Court challenges
The Conservative government’s elimination of the Court Challenges Program will strip minority groups of the ability to challenge legislation that infringes on their rights

“The message sent by Prime Minister Stephen Harper through eliminating this program is all Canadians may have Charter rights, but only those who can afford it can defend them.” said Liberal justice critic Sue Barnes.

The program was re-established by the Liberal government in 1994 after having been scrapped by Brian Mulroney’s Conservatives; it provided financial assistance to individuals and groups who were pursuing legal action to defend their rights under Canada’s Constitution. It has provided opportunities to those who haven’t had the financial means to appeal to the judiciary

Security Certificates, allowing Sikhs to wear kirpans to schools, stopping the closing of Ottawa’s only French-language hospital, and the right to same-sex marriage have been prime examples of cases that have been brought before the Supreme Court of Canada thanks to the Court Challenges Program.

Rights of Women, too
The cancellation of the program for women’s
advocacy groups has also drawn criticism from politicians and NGOs

“Our democratic system has to support the fight for equality rights,” said MP Maria Minna. . “Minority language groups, immigrant religious groups, disability groups, same-sex rights groups, women’s groups – they all need the resources to ensure their arguments are heard when they feel their rights have been trampled on.”

The program has a small budget relative to other programs – $5.6 million a year – but offers significant social and legal value to Canadians.

In their pr usage of the term “Canada’s new government” the Harper gang seems to have forgotten an appropriate theme song. How about Everything Old is New Again?

It seems the government is exerting pressure on groups, attempting to silence them because they won’t have the money or resources. The rights-for-the-privileged-only concept is an idea foreign to the very meaning of democracy.

If I may mix metaphors Harper and his fellow wolves in progressive Tory clothing are beginning to show their true colours, predicted by many skeptics during the federal election. campaign.

One is compelled ask whether the oft-denied “hidden agenda” hinted at then is not already in the process of implementation.

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