Today The Windsor Star quoted Canada’s Employment Minister, Jason Kenney, as saying that Canada was showing its disagreement with Russia by strongly supporting “free and fair” elections in Ukraine. Apparently the Harper government will show its enthusiastic support for democracy in Ukraine by sending hundreds of delegates to monitor the presidential election there next month.
This sounds like good news for Ukrainians, but one can only wish that the Harper government had such enthusiasm for democracy in Canada. A wide variety of respected, intelligent and most democratically-minded analysts have roundly criticized Bill C-23, the Harper government’s current “Fair Elections Act,” as being a veritable impediment to Canada’s established democratic processes. On March 28th of this year Andrew Coyne wrote in The National Post that now Canadians “face the likelihood, as incredible as it sounds, of the government using the majority it won in the last election to pass a bill widely perceived as intended to fix the next — and contesting that election in the shadow of illegitimacy the bill would cast. It will do so, what is more, not in spite of the opposition it has aroused, but because of it: because it has convinced itself that all such opposition, from whatever source, proceeds from the same implacably partisan motives as its own.”
With this elegant description of the low opinion that Canada’s reigning government holds of the electoral process on its own terrain, one is readily reminded of how easy it is to preach without practicing. Whatever gift for democracy the Canadian delegation intends to give Ukrainians, hopefully it spares them lessons in morality.