Making an analogy is a perilous procedure because it often conjures up diametrically opposed impressions. Recently I found myself admiring a beautiful spider web, one of those almost round nets carefully hung vertically on two filaments and tethered by two equally fine tie-downs. The web‛s delicate traceries sparkled with light when bathed in sunbeams. Motionless at their centre was the little creature that had created it.
Now here‛s where the peril appears. We all know that the web is a trap and that the spider is a voracious killer awaiting victims. But that‛s not what came to mind. No. This time, forget the trap, forget the killer, and look at the work of art.
Here‛s the analogy that I saw.
The little engineer/artist at the centre was Parliament and that incredible web of gossamer filaments that had been spun so carefully, so patiently, represented the careful spinning of laws that gradually, oh so gradually, have accumulated over the years to give us the vote, women‛s suffrage, pensions, old age security, the right to strike, universal health care, protection of the environment and endangered species, a Charter of Rights enshrining freedom of association, freedom of expression, freedom of religion, freedom from hate, freedom of the person, and so on and so forth until the mind reels at the interweaving complexity of it all – truly an evolving masterpiece of democratic social art, this web. I emphasise “evolving”– always imperfect but beautiful.
Then I imagined the creative creature at the centre becoming unbalanced and beginning to destroy its own web by hacking away at key strands and I realized the appalling comparison of that to the current Omnibus Bill being forced through Parliament. Harper has already frayed Democracy‛s web, and Bill C-38, when consummated, will tear giant holes in it. Like the spider web that took hours to create, Democracy’s web can be destroyed with a wave of the hand.
The system that permits this wholesale destruction is obviously flawed. The system can be improved, beginning with the electoral vote, but the web, so labouriously, so slowly constructed, once wrecked can only be re-woven with the same painstaking, costly, time consuming dedication that created it in the first place. But if the spinner at the centre remains unbalanced there is no chance of that.
The Omnibus Bill can be stopped (3rd reading still to come) but only by Harper‛s own minions who currently chant the mantra of “Majority Government with a Mandate” in spite of the fact that only 25% of Canadians voted for them and that much of what is being done was not put forth in last year‛s election.
We all know that a mere handful of Harper‛s MPs, if they take both their principles and their courage in hand, can bring this destruction to a halt and thereby create the opportunity for an era of democratic renovation. A courageous handful, voting nay, would undoubtedly be reviled by some of their peers but would be enshrined in the Canadian Hall of Democratic Fame.
Not a bad personal legacy to leave to one‛s children. Far better than the alternative.