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.
Contact us at democracyunderfire@gmail.com

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Help Wanted - to Promote Democracy.

After pounding on the subject of the gradual erosion of Canadian Democracy for several years in various forums across the internet and weekly here at Democracy Under Fire for the last 6 months I must reluctantly admit that I am running out of steam. Not that I feel any less concerned about where our government is taking us or that I couldn’t rant on at great length about some of the stuff that the “Harper Government TM” has, and is, doing that I feel is totally wrong. I have however tried to keep this blog focused upon “Democracy” and not go wandering of into partisan political views, at times I have great difficulty is separating the two, they are after all closely intertwined. Is the governments lack of support (in some cases actively creating road blocks) for Canadians overseas a matter of democracy being ignored or is it an unrelated political decision. I don’t know. Certainly we expect our government to support Canadians abroad (at least those who are not permanent residents overseas) but is that a “right” or just convention? That is but one of the many questions we need to examine regarding what is and is not “democratic”.

I have noticed of late that several more blogs or web sites have emerged expressing concern about our voting system, about government unaccountability, about partisan politics destroying our parliamentary democracy, even about democracy within the political party, and similar concerns. This is, in my view, a reflection of more citizens becoming aware of where things seem to be heading and expressing their frustration about the ever decreasing amount of control they and their elected representatives have over those that would corrupt or ignore the long tradition of consultation, non suppression of opinion, respectful debate, and free votes in the HOC. It is a reflection of their concern over the neverending electioneering, the spending of vast quantities of money (some of it taxpayers money) on advertisements attacking not the opposing partys policies but the personalities involved, this not even during an election cycle!. If you have been considering starting such a blog to express your views why not join us here, we don’t have to agree, but so long as you can express you point of view without personal attacks and abusive language (this is not question period!) you are welcome. If you own one of those blogs let me know and I will add a link to the side bar and hope that you would do the same for us.

When this blog was started it was intended to be a collaboration, not just between the two individuals who started it but a forum for those who are similarly concerned, unfortunately my partner has found the pressures of family and other more important things such that she has found little time to add to the postings and so I must draw your attention to the preamble at the top of the page which says “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.”
If any of the above strikes a cord with you, you want speak to one of the previous posts, or you find yourself saying “but what about…..” then I invite you to join us, whether with a one time article submitted by email or by requesting direct access for more numerous postings. Many of you will have your own blogs and may on occasion have a rant about some action that impinges upon our democracy, I invite you to draw my attention to them should you think they are worth repeating here. For the reader who are not “into blogging” but have stumbled across this page whilst googleing a related subject I invite you to get involved and have your say, its as simple as sending me a email.

A few caveats here, whilst I try and be as open and non political as possible on these pages, I must reluctantly tell those who have given up on democracy, given up on voting or who are blindly partisan that I will not allow posts promoting those points of view on this blog. It is after all a blog to try and promote the return to a more participatory democracy and to discuss what is wrong with the current incarnation and ways to move to a better form. Whilst so far I have focused upon federal governance, democracy is not limited to that forum so if you wish to discuss provincial or municipal impacts upon democracy, or even items on the subject unrelated to politics I am open to input of a general nature on all forms of democracy.

As we say in our header “Democracy requires dialog, please join us.”

Contact us at democracyunderfire@gmail.com

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NL-ExPatriate said...

I must say I am surprised you rule out promoting not voting.

If you really understand our democracy and realize that it is systemically flawed for the betterment of a real confederation then not voting is really the only option left because our democracy is nothing but a numbers game and due to the demographics essentially what we have is a Tyranny of the Majority with 181 seats out of 308 in Upper lower canada.

It isn't the parties we need to change nor leaders of the parties because they all work within the same flawed political system of Per Cpaita Colonialism where by all of the parties are nothing but Proxy parties/govts for the upper lower canada majority.

I'm not saying anything new everybody who is anybody and informed or involved with politicics in canada knows that is what Meech lake and Charlottetown accords were about but because the flawed democracy works for the two principal provinces who make up the majority they don't want it to change.

Even if some party were to promote equality amongst the members of the federation that party would never get a majority because the majority lives in the two provinces who feel they are the center of the federation and are entitled to their power over the minority colonies.

Why is it Quebec has equality with Ontario in the senate and the Supreme Court of canada when Qu only has 7 million and On has 13 million?

Why not make all of the members of the federation equal in the senate and the SCC?

canada will never become great because of the inequities which exist between it's member provinces. These inequities which if not perpetrated by the national parties then continued and ignored because they need the tyranny of the majorities approval for power.

The only way to change our systemically flawed political system is to expose it for what it is.

There are alot of people who have already realized this and hence refuse to vote it isn't because they don't care or are uninformed or uninvolved they like me have realized that all of the parties are nothing more than proxy party/govts for Upper lower canada.

Rural said...

NLXP – I won’t promote not voting, but I do understand somewhat the frustration that brings that thinking on, and I am quite willing to discuss that point of view in order to understand it better.
I have two major questions for you with regard to your views:- Firstly whilst I recognize that there are flaws in our system of voting and am personally in favor of moving to proportional voting of some kind (preferably one that gives less power to the political partys) I do not understand you constant reference to the “Tyranny of the Majority” , If the majority of Canadians live in Ontario (or NL or timbuctoo) why should they not have a commiserate share of the vote, what is your alternative, each province to have equal representation so that very small portions of the population would have an equal say with much larger areas? This one bothers me also in that as a rural resident I am very much a minority with relatively little say in a city centric government system but I see no alternative but majority rule (hopefully by representatives that realize that they represent not only their own area but are there to do the right thing for ALL of Canada) Here again it is the quality of the folks we elect that can make a difference and yes, they do need to be (more) independent the corporate, regional, political, and others pressure groups that increasingly have more say than the “people”!
The second part of this is if you want change, and I must presume from your rant that you do, how are you going to bring that about if not by voting in representatives who support you point of view or who are at least willing to listen to it. In my view we cannot bring about the sorely needed changes to our democracy in other that a democratic manner (by voting for better representatives) unless you are proposing some kind of civil uprising and forcible removal of the current system of governance we have, the result of which cannot be called democratic.
So how does not voting achieve change?
PS. I will concede that if large numbers did not vote (60 -80%?) it would get governments attention, but IF they were then moved to change something you would have a government consisting of representatives selected by a very small minority dictating a new system upon the majority, how is that better?

gary said...


I would suggest that we not only need to increase democracy locally, but also globally. If a requirement of membership in the world community, specifically the UN, was that a country adhere to democratic principles, we would help all countries, not just Canada. Here's what I would propose...




P.S. NOT voting never works.

Rural said...

Gary, you say on your site “To pretend that dictators represent people is an affront to the principle of democracy” I agree, however I am not trying to save the world here, just our Canadian democracy. Whilst our leader cannot be compared with some of the dictatorial leaders we can sure see that tendency in him at times! We must indeed beware those that call themselves democratic or representative but are in fact neither.

gary said...

Hi Rural,

I realize that your primarily concerned with Canada. When proposing this UDN idea, I often get it thrown back in my face that the US isn't much of a democracy and does all sorts of anti-democratic things in the world. My reply is that the idea of a UDN is as much about improving existing democracies as creating new ones. I have no doubt that it would help Canada as well. It's a small world and only getting smaller...