Zombie Democracy

Blog, Commentary, Energy, Publius Tacitus

Publius Publius

The Economist’s June 22nd – 28th edition contains an article on the current sad state of Turkey’s democracy.

The article concludes:

The basic idea of a democracy is that the voters should pick a government, which rules as it chooses until they see fit to chuck it out. But although voting is an important democratic right, it is not the only one. And winning an election does not entitle a leader to disregard all checks on his power. The majoritarian world view expressed by Mr. Erdogan and leaders of his ilk is a kind of zombie democracy. It has the outward shape of the real thing, but is lacks the heart.

Delete Erdogan and replace with Selinger, and we have Publius’   commentary on the state of Manitoba’s democracy.

Elected on Selinger’s solemn  promise (“read my lips” – Selinger) not to raise taxes, he broadened the retail sales tax base last year before increasing it this year. Elected to respect the laws of the land, Selinger ignores the province-wide referendum required for a tax increase. Elected on the assumption that he would respect long-standing agreements, Selinger seeks to rip away Assiniboine Downs from the not-for-profit Jockey Club that saved horse racing in Manitoba.

Expected to ‘get along’ with Manitoba municipalities, Selinger’s government plays ongoing political games with the City of Winnipeg while bulldozing smaller municipalities to merge against their will. And, elected to prudently operate Manitoba Hydro, the Utility supported by ratepayer funds, Selinger plans and acts on a risk-laden over-expensive $20 billion plus gamble on America’s electricity market (expending a couple of billion dollars prior to either an open review or final approvals of the plan).

Selinger’s government regularly spends beyond its means, incurring large annual (structural) deficits while adding billions after billions to the Province’s already high gross debt level. This, just as interest rates begin to rise and ahead of a likely federal transfer funding slowdown.

Selinger’s Local Government  Minister Ron Lemieux disrespects presenters to an all-party committee of the Legislature, calling them howling coyotes. The citizens are commenting on the government’s bill to retroactively revoke the law that requires a referendum on tax increasesFurthermore, the government’s press release barrage continues day after day, assisted by the  spending of Crown enterprises, heralding in a one-sided way supposed benefits for the populace (paid for by taxpayers, financed by debt).

Publius finds Manitoba’s government to be a  government operating outside of the normal ethical responsibilities of a provincial government, and decries that the goals of transparency, openness and accountability once promoted by Selinger are being ignored.

By the time the next election comes around (2015), much of the economic damage likely will have already been done, although it will not show in the Province’s books of account. If the NDP wins again, it could take a decade to fully appreciate the magnitude of the harm being done without either the blessing or approval of a fully informed electorate.

The competitive economic gap that existed between Manitoba and its western neighbours at the time of the last provincial election (2011)has grown further, and, just as worrisome, the democracy gap is growing as well.