Harper’s government: Skip the debate, close the doors, we’ll tell you what you need to know.

Ted Hsu
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Picture of Ted HsuPublished first in EMC and Kingston This Week, February 2012

Because it’s not practical for 34 million Canadians to talk to the Prime Minister, you elect a member of Parliament to bring your concerns to your government. But when the door to the House of Commons is slammed shut on citizens’ views, the democracy that generations of brave Canadians fought to preserve is gutted.

Debate in the House of Commons has been cut off on a record number of bills, sometimes after just a few hours.

Committee business in the House is increasingly conducted in closed-door sessions, so that the majority government can secretly decide to not hear certain witnesses or not study issues that might embarrass the government. MPs — even opposition MPs who sit on the committee — cannot talk publicly about these closed meetings, for fear of going to jail.

Experts who work for the government cannot speak freely to MPs. I witnessed this early on as a new MP, when a deputy minister came to give me a briefing on his ministry. He was accompanied by four political staffers taking notes.

Stephen Harper’s government is more interested in controlling what you know about your government than in hearing what you have to say.

The majority government has an unprecedented 1,500 people working in communications. Government spending on advertising has tripled since 2006. For example, $53.8 million dollars were spent in 2009-2010 to tell the people of Canada about the Economic Action Plan.

Your tax dollars are being used to control information, so that you know only what the government wants you to know.  It’s time for the Conservative government to stop closing doors, start listening to the people of Canada, and begin respecting the democratic process that has been hard won for our citizens.