Structural inequality threatens to erode the societal fabric that binds together Canada’s social democracy. Fundamental Canadian values of fairness, cooperation, compassion and egalitarianism have been swept aside and forgotten by Canada’s public leaders. The philosophy of neoliberalism and its central tenants of competition, individualism, deregulation, and wealth accumulation are transforming the socio-cultural landscape of Canada.
Political parties have been the main mechanism used to dismantle democracy in Canada. Elected representatives at both the provincial and federal levels of government have introduced legislation (e.g., C-38 and C-45) to further the neoliberal economic order.
Government was once a strong advocate for Canadians, but a partnership between small-government politicians and corporations has diminished it as a main institution of collective power. In Canada, social democracy is threadbare and near extinction. Citizens must organize in a collective effort to ensure public leaders uphold the principles of democracy.
An elite group benefits from the destruction of the Canadian state. Limited government results in less protection for a majority of Canadians. A reduction in the size and potency of government is particularly troubling for the underprivileged social classes. Traditional marginal groups require legislative protection from the ruling majority. Legislative reform that reduces government responsibility further pushes these social groups to margins of society. Lack of government regulation creates an open and purely market-based economy. In this set of circumstances, market forces define the values and customs of a society.
Corporate bosses use well-funded and highly organized lobby groups to exert influence over political institutions in Canada. The Canadian political system is saturated with corporate special interest groups. Provincial and federal politicians seem to be more concerned with the interests of corporations than the social welfare of all Canadians. Government spending on social programs to help improve the condition of its citizens has declined. The wealthy see expenditures as wasteful spending.
Economic growth means prosperity for the richest Canadians. Better wages for blue-collar Canadians is long overdue. Wages are stagnating and are not increasing at the same rate as corporate profits. Underemployment and unemployment remain persistent problems for workers. Union leaders do not have the bargaining clout they once had. Government has enacted tough laws to make union activities difficult.Resource development threatens to further marginalize First Nations Canadians.
Canadians must take collective action. Community organizing and mobilization will be important strategies. Citizen engagement is the great awakening that will oust the autocratic provincial and federal regimes.
Republished from The Quill print edition, Volume 103, Issue 18, January 22, 2013.