Liberals’ program for ‘real change’

TML Weekly  carried an important editorial in its recent issue dated April 2 entitled, “The More Counterfeit the Measures, the Deeper the Crisis.”

The editorial addresses the program of reform the Trudeau Liberal government is implementing based on its electoral platform calledReal Change. TML Weekly  addresses the legitimacy crisis in which what are called the democratic institutions are mired, and puts the government’s program of reforms in this context. “The deepening opposition of workers, women, youth and Indigenous peoples to the nation-wrecking of the neo-liberal bourgeoisie… has peeled the facade from the democracy and revealed the police powers which remain in lieu of the government of laws,” TML Weekly  explains. The editorial says the Liberals’ program for Real Change  “is advanced to suggest that they have a plan to restore trust and create a different, progressive relationship between government and the citizenry. The fact that the Liberals are attempting to do so using ‘Third Way solutions’ and the same discredited concepts previous governments campaigned on of ‘openness, transparency, accountability’ and more, under which corruption, secrecy and police rule have grown exponentially, shows the dangers which lie ahead.”

The editorial continues:

“The concerns highlighted in the Liberal government’s Real Change program and mandate letters to ministers are to ‘restore Canadians’ trust and participation in our democratic processes’ as well as ‘make Parliament relevant again and to ensure that Canadians once again have a real voice in Ottawa.’ The Liberal government says it will ‘restore trust in our democracy, and that begins with trusting Canadians.’ They say ‘[p]eople know that Ottawa is broken. We have a comprehensive plan to fix it.’

“This past week in Ottawa, from March 31 to April 1, a $795 per ticket private conference called Open Dialogue Forum 2016 was held which reveals something about what this electoral promise for Real Change is about. Proponents say that Open Dialogue will heal what is wrong with policy-making. According to them, policy-making is not in trouble because it serves private monopoly interests and has enforced monopoly right over public right. It is not crisis-ridden because the ruling elites refuse to analyze the conditions and provide solutions which open society’s path to progress. In lieu of analyzing why the problems exist, the Liberals say that policy-making has been ‘deeply affected’ by ‘the speed of change, the interconnectedness of events, and a general volatility around public affairs.’ They claim that ‘[m]aking and implementing decisions in this environment requires new ways of gauging public support and establishing legitimacy.’

“To implement these ‘new ways,’ the 2016 budget includes $11.5 million over five years for the Treasury Board Secretariat ‘to double [its] budget for open government activities’ and $10.7 million over four years for consultations on reform to the electoral system. The meaning of the government’s dialogue and consultations can be seen in those it is already touting as examples of its ‘openness, accountability and transparency.’ These include consultations on the neo-liberal Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada and the European Union (CETA) after which Minister of International Trade Chrystia Freeland declared that she heard ‘no opposition’ to the deal. The ongoing ‘public’ consultations about another free trade deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, have been exposed as nothing more than private, invite-only meetings predominantly with representatives of private monopoly interests. Nonetheless these meetings are billed as ‘consulting Canadians on the Trans-Pacific Partnership’ and everyone else is invited to ‘participate’ in the ‘dialogue’ by e-mailing a government address set up for that purpose.

“Protests of working people have taken place in Canada and Europe against CETA. Despite this, the Minister of International Trade can declare that she heard ‘no opposition.’ She will no doubt declare ‘overwhelming support’ and ‘some concerns voiced’ about the Trans-Pacific Partnership as well and perhaps even tell us why the opposition does not merit attention. She can do so because the government and the private monopoly interests it represents have the political power to do so. But might does not make right. This process does not make the decisions legitimate.

“So too the government has rejected the process advocated by Indigenous communities themselves for the long-awaited Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. They are the ones who know what is required to bring out the truth and achieve justice. The process the government has adopted in the name of listening to the concerns of the Indigenous peoples will bring nothing but disappointment and more police rule to quell the peoples’ revolt.

“This supercilious effort to restore an appearance of legitimacy is becoming a main feature of the Trudeau Liberal government. The Liberals captured the most seats in the federal election, but despite this the vote showed a divided polity. Knowing that elections no longer confer legitimacy, Trudeau clearly feels the need to provide his program for Real Change  with legitimacy by repeating over and again that the Liberals’ program comes from Canadians themselves. The Trudeau government is going all out to mobilize its social base within the trade unions, non-government organizations and within the intellectual strata to endorse and peddle its program to attempt to make it stick. The mantra is that if the Liberal reforms and consultation are ‘done right,’ everything will be fine. The role of Canadians is to ‘hold the Liberals’ feet to the fire’ and make sure they are true to their stated aims. What these stated aims are is not to be questioned. The bafflegab about openness, transparency, accountability and schemes to reform the electoral process aims to deprive the people’s movement for empowerment of its consciousness and organization by trying to force it to respond to the government’s agenda for reforms with a ‘wait-and-see’ attitude instead of elaborating its own program for renewal of the democracy.

“The Liberals however have to contend with the fact that nowadays not many people hold illusions about them and their programs. From one end of Canada to the other the people are working out how to provide the problems they and society face with solutions. Liberal illusions will be smashed by the people working out independent stands which contribute to resolving the crisis of nation-building in their favour.

“What is clear is that the Third Way measures the government is trying to exhume and resuscitate will further lift the veil on its program to pay the rich and enforce monopoly right over public right. The new form of government is a new form of police rule and it will provide no legitimacy whatsoever.”

To read related articles and reference material, see the April 2 issue of TML Weekly  here.

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