The Real Tyrant in Canada is You
Today, as the Liberals put forward a motion to find the Conservative government in contempt for withholding information and misleading parliament, House government leader John Baird used the phrase “Tyranny of the Majority” to describe the action. I wrote last week about another MP using this same outrageous phrase. It is actually quite surprising for Minister Baird to use the phrase “Tyranny of the Majority” since it raises awareness that they literally do not have a majority of the seats in parliament. Many Canadians assume that whoever forms government won a majority of the votes, this is rarely the case but this simple statement may actually cause some soft supporters of the Conservatives to pay a bit of attention and realize that a fundamental democratic principle, the fundamental democratic principle, is being trampled on.
I find this is incredibly embarrassing. To any international readers or people visiting Canada from other democratic countries or countries that dream of having democracy, I simply don’t know what to say. You see, our current government won the most seats in the last election. This was just 44% of the seats in parliament and only 38% of the actual votes cast nationwide. But it was slightly more seats than any two other parties could put together so forming a coalition to beat them was hard. It was especially hard since they attacked the very idea of having a coalition of parties ruling parliament. I know, coalitions are common in parliamentary systems, to the point where Canada is the only country of its type that does not have a coalition government or hasn’t had one in recent years. This is especially ironic given that the Conservatives essentially toyed the idea of a coalition when they were on the opposition side in a similar situation just 7 years ago. They even signed a letter with opposition parties to the Governor General to that effect; a letter which we will probably get to see during the upcoming election campaign.
Most of our international friends and immigrants arriving in Canada fleeing horrible, undemocratic regimes around the world would love to have the problem of a Tyranny of the Majority. They would love to have a group of parties that actually represented more than half the population to rule in a united and respectful way. We are not talking about a majority oppressing a disadvantaged and ostracized minority population here. That would be bad. What we are talking about is Tyranny over the ruling government by a majority of the representatives in the legislature! Just read that sentence again, roll it around in your head for a bit. Yes, that is what it actually means. It’s nothing less than a complete misunderstanding of the fundamental principle of democracy. After everything else this government has done: the lying, the witholding information, the gutting of government institutions, the favouring of big business, the wreckless spending without a plan for development, the attempts to sabotage climate action; after all this, House leader John Baird’s single statement of contempt for democracy really says it all.
And I think the opposition parties should sing it to the hilltops. “Tyranny of the Majority”: The Harper Government™ thinks that your right as a voter to have a say, to have the majority voice be heard in parliament is worthy of the word Tyranny. It is abundantly clear that the Conservatives are playing a different game than the rest of us in Canada at the moment. They aren’t actually playing the game called representative democracy. They are playing a game though, and they are playing it on us.