Sunday, August 19, 2012

Prime Minister Diefenbaker thought orders-in-council were undemocratic

For many years, Privy Council Orders-in-Council have been used to funnel government real estate to well-connected individuals and companies, foreign and domestic.
Former Prime Minister of Canada John Diefenbaker thought OIC's were undemocratic, and should be scrutinized by a Parliamentary Committee before they are approved. In a 1949 speech to the Empire Club at the Royal York Hotel in Toronto, Mr. Diefenbaker said:

     "The trend in consequence of two wars in one generation has been the direction of by-passing Parliament by passing orders-in-council which interfere with individual rights...which too often deny the right of appeal to the court."
     "There should be a standing committee of the House of Commons whose responsibility it would be to vigilantly examine and report on all orders-in-council that would diminish the freedom of the individual."
     "Without an Opposition, decision by discussion would end and would be supplanted by virtual dictatorship, for governments prefer to rule by order-in-council to Parliament, and bureaucrats prefer to be uncontrolled by Parliament or the courts."
(From an October 27, 1949 speech given by Mr. Diefenbaker to the Empire Club at the Royal York Hotel.) The former prime minister probably never dreamed that an order-in-council would give foreign billionaires ownership of the Royal York and all the other CPR and CNR hotels. At one time, a tunnel connected the Royal York to Union Station, on the opposite side of the street:

Union Station

Royal York Hotel

 The Hon. Judge Gomery said that the concentration of power in the office of the prime minister was a threat to democracy.
The Gomery Commission investigated several Crown corporations, including Canada Post and Via Rail.
 Crown corporations are run like dictatorships---the CEO's and directors never have to consult with Canadians when:
  • parking lots are built on museum land. The Museum of Nature in Ottawa is going to be surrounded by asphalt parking lots, much to the chagrin of nearby homeowners. I believe the parking lots are paving the way, no pun intended, for high-rise condo developments. My sister, my niece and I visited the Museum of Nature in the summer of 1984:
  • social housing, built with federal money, is privatized. Examples are Regent Park in Toronto and the Kingstonian Apartments in Kingston, Ontario.
  • iconic buildings are sold. In 1985, the Mulroney government privatized the Habitat apartments in Montreal, for $10 million dollars. A few weeks later, the owner flipped the property.
  • public money is transferred into foreign bank accounts.
  • mail delivery to rural Canadians is discontinued. Canada Post is a national, democratic institution, a right and not a privilege.
  • prime waterfront property is sold/funneled to well-connected real estate magnates. Harbourfront in Toronto is a concrete sea, the polar opposite of what Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau envisioned for the land. Hundreds of millions of taxdollars were used by the Canada Lands Company to decontaminate  CNR land and the Moncton Shops. Terry Jacks lamented the concrete sea of high-rise condos in Vancouver: "No one is meant to be living here in a concrete sea/everyone including me, wishes he could be set free".
The Consolidated Revenue Fund is an Aladdin's Treasure Chest for Crown corporation executives--- Canada Post  can borrow $500 million dollars or more from the CRF; the Royal Canadian Mint can borrow $75 million or more, and The Broadcasting Act gives the CBC the power to borrow $220 million dollars or more from the Consolidated Revenue Fund, and to keep all the money from the sale of property.

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