Are You Ready 4 Democracy

Posted: March 26, 2011 in Current Events, Election, politics
Tags: ,

A lot of people are looking at the impending Canadian federal election as a nuisance.  It is the fifth election in just over a decade and three years since the last one in 2008.  The normal cycle of elections in Canada is about every four years, and there has been a lot of threats and posturing about early elections (by both main parties) over the past few years, so it is understandable that with this new, forced election that everyone is saying, “Oh no.  Not again.”

But I don’t think that is a reasonable response for a number of clear and important reasons.

1.  The nature of democracy is to have the best possible representation of voters running the government.  In a country like Canada, with four parties, the potential for a minority government is always present.  (This is especially complicated by the PQ, which contains both left and right wing supporters, voting not by political ideology, but by geographic and cultural ideology.  Politics in Canada was a lot more straight forward before the curve ball of the PQ entered the scene.)

In a minority government, by nature, the ruling party does not represent the majority of people in Canada.  It is a situation of convenience.  Therefor, if democracy is to mean anything, there has to be a method by which the majority of people, who in fact voted against the government, have the ability to keep them in check and even throw them out.  It is very important that all of these things be done with the general good of the country kept in mind.  We don’t want it to happen frivolously so that it needlessly disturb the flow of governance, but the mechanism needs to be there.

2.   With all this talk about, “Oh no, not another election!” two important facts are forgotten.  The first is that the previous election of 2008 was called by the Conservative minority in order to try to bolster their numbers.  It was not forced by the opposition parties (although the Conservatives will probably say that their pressure forced them to try to get a majority.)  The second is the fact that that government which was dissolved in 2008 was the longest standing minority government in the country’s history (-until the Conservatives themselves dissolved it).

3.  Do we have a significant reason for the Canadian people to question their confidence in the current government?  In my opinion we do, and that would be true regardless of the party in power.  This Conservative government was just found in contempt of Parliament by the Speaker Of The House, not once, but for two separate incidents in the past month.  This is unprecedented.  It has never happened before.

I am amazed at the number of people who don’t really understand what this means.  It is an official censure against the ruling party, saying that they lied to Parliamnet in a significant way.  It is not a small deal, and brings into question the integrity of the government.    And it is not the first time that the integrity of this government has been justifiably criticized.  The proroguing of government last year was a controversial step to avoid the consequences of democracy.  There have been other controversies about the improper appointment of certain people to prominent positions in order to influence the policies of certain organizations.  In spite of the Conservative attempt to look very calm and paternal, there is a serious question about their integrity.  That is certainly reason enough for the opposition parties to force an election.  It is, in fact, their duty to do so.

Whether the Conservatives will be vindicated by the voters is a separate point.  Perhaps voters will forgive them or decide that these issues of integrity are not really a priority.  Hopefully they will do so after having been fully informed and understanding the implications.  (Right now, after hearing the speeches this morning, it is clear that Harper’s tactic on this issue is to sidestep it as much as possible.)  And I know that the Liberals are not innocent of this either.  The sponsorship scandal was responsible for seriously damaging Liberal credibility, and cost them a lot in the 2004 election.  This led to a Liberal minority government, which, incidentally, the Conservatives brought down two years later.  Interesting.

So, let’s not get caught up in this fallacy that another election at this point is some kind of abuse by the opposition parties.  To say that is to declare democracy inconvenient and trivial.  Maybe the parties are all full of crap.  Maybe a change of government is futile and won’t make any real difference.  If you believe that, get out and make a difference rather than sitting back and complaining about what other people aren’t doing.  Democracy is more than just voting.  The foundation of democracy is that each individual has the freedom to go out and try to effect the process and the result.

It is what the people in Egypt and Tunisia, and maybe even Libya are currently fighting for.  They’re taking the responsibility for their own freedom into their own hands.  And I’m sure it will feel like a precious thing when they achieve it.  Perhaps we need to regard our own freedom and democracy as more of a precious thing.


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