Dismantling civil society - Macleans.ca

Dismantling civil society


Alex Himelfarb considers the budget.

But what is clear even now is that these cuts imply a different view of our shared citizenship, of what ties us together as Canadians across language and region and community. They offer us what I have called elsewhere “bargain basement citizenship”. The new deal, the contract, seems to be that less will be asked of us – less taxes, no mandatory long census, no requirement to register firearms – and less will be provided in services and entitlements. Take, for example, the pick-and-choose approach the government has adopted in standing up for Canadian citizens abroad facing the threat of capital punishment. Part of the progressive state that Solberg wants “smashed” is the notion of shared citizenship that came with these national programs. While that state was being built, Canadians had new reason to engage in national politics and a vibrant civil society developed around this. And this strong civic society, engaged citizens and non-governmental organizations, changed and enriched our understanding of democracy, always pressing for improvements, giving voice to the powerless, and demanding collective action on new and emerging challenges. Is this too to be smashed?

See previously: Checking Jim Flaherty’s math