A blog to give a voice to our concern about the continued erosion of our democratic processes not only within the House of Commons and within our electoral system but also throughout our society. Here you will find articles about the current problems within our parliamentary democracy, about actions both good and bad by our elected representatives, about possible solutions, opinions and debate about the state of democracy in Canada, and about our roles/responsibilities as democratic citizens. We invite your thoughtful and polite comments upon our posts and ask those who wish to post longer articles or share ideas on this subject to submit them for inclusion as a guest post.
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Sunday, August 9, 2009

Democracy in the Amphitheatre.

Recently I had the pleasure of hearing Elizabeth May speak to the subject of government accountability and the demise of our democracy in recent times. It was a pleasure to listen to a leader of a political party, abet one who has yet to be seated in the House of Commons, speak openly about the undemocratic amount of control that political partys and their leaders have upon the workings of our parliament.

It was refreshing to hear a national political figure speak about the need for less power for the PMO and more for the individual MP and thus “the people”. It was perhaps fitting that the venue where she spoke of us reaching a turning point in our democracy was an outdoor amphitheatre reminiscent of the places in Greece where democracy was born.

She spoke of our political system reaching a new low with leaders being attacked by slick campaigns aimed not at policy or proposals, but designed to make our citizens so disgusted with either the attacker or their target that they do not bother to vote. She spoke of regularly sitting in the gallery of the House of Commons during question period and observing the orchestrated heckling and name calling and asked if perhaps the televised portions should have a warning as not suitable for children! Which given the childish behavior of those involved could stop the MPs from viewing their own antics?

Her presentation focused upon the recent decline of cooperation and respect amongst or representatives in Ottawa, she recounted a time not that long ago, when as a aide to the Environment Minister of the day she could recall that even under a majority government cooperation and consensus were the norm and rarely did a bill reach the first reading stage until it had been broadly agreed to by all partys.

There was no rhetoric about the Green Party being the answer to all these things, there was in fact very little “political maneuvering” in her words but simply her opinion of where our democracy stands at the present time, that being “about as low as it can get”. We can but hope that she is correct on that one, something that we will see perhaps change for the better after the next election, coming she believes in November shortly after parliament resumes in the fall.

My impression of Ms May upon hearing her speak to the audience of 200 or so was not of an arrogant “I am the leader” politician that we are so used to hearing, but of a knowledgeable and caring individual who truly is worried about the way in which things are being done by our current government. A person who genuinely believes, as I do, that our very democracy is in jeopardy if some changes are not made in the very near future, and incidentally who still believes that individuals, herself included, can make a difference.

Will her presence in the HoC after November have a massive impact upon the democratic process, hardly. Would the presence of herself and a few more honest and open individuals who are equally concerned about our democratic process be a good place to start, you bet. As she said the only way to change things is to elect individuals who realize that their boss is the people who elect them, if that happens to be “a Green” then that too may be a good thing.

It was interesting that upon returning home and picking up the local newspaper I read that Bill Murdoch, the long time MPP for the riding where she spoke, had in a recent interview said “We don’t have a representative democracy any more, we have a party democracy. As soon as you get elected whatever party you belong to they think they own you………That’s not the way it was meant to be.”

They are both correct, these two are the sort of representatives we need, as Ms May said, the question to ask those candidates during the next election is “for whom do you work”, but remember that SOME will just tell you what you want to hear, or what they have been told to tell you, rather than discuss the possibility that the “party” is the puppet master! Support Democracy - Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers

1 comment:

Monique said...

I have heard Elizabeth speak as well, Rural, and I too was very impressed by her openness and honesty. I think she's pretty darn cool and I'm glad she's out there doing "her thing" on behalf of the rest of us.