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, November 28, 2010

Defending Democracy

In any civilized society there must be rules which we all generally follow, in a democracy hopefully we have at least some input at to what those rules are even if only by selecting those who make them. There will always be those who do not fully agree with such rules and whilst we all have a problem with some of them we generally follow them as to do otherwise leads to anarchy and chaos. We have in such a democratic civilized society a number of ways to indicate our displeasure when such rules are not to our liking, voicing our opinion to those that make the rules or kicking them out at the first opportunity or pressuring those responsible by publicly making our views known in letters, blogs, print or in the streets.
Non of these methods is particularly effective for the individual citizen and sometimes such protests get out of hand and a few individuals go 'over the top' and promote or participate in violence and / or property damage in order to 'get attention'. Whilst I perhaps understand such frustration I do not condone it, again I believe this is the path to chaos.

This brings me to the point of this post, the lack of respect on BOTH sides, protester and law enforcement, by a few individuals that brings into question our ability to remain a peaceful and cohesive society. Recent reports have clearly shown that there are SOME who are tasked with upholding the rules that our governments have placed upon us (whether we agree with them or not) have been abusing the power vested in them to enable them to do this difficult and sometimes dangerous job. Worse, their colleagues, who cannot help but be aware of such abuses, stand back and do nothing, either at the time or after the fact. There have been a number of well documented cases where such abuses of power have either been highlighted in court or in official inquiries but little if anything has been done to correct the problem or penalize those responsible. I view such lack of accountability a real problem for our democracy, for our society depends upon us having at least a passing respect for our legal system, not only from the average citizen but also from those who enforce it and from those who decide upon the penalties for 'breaking the rules'. If the majority of citizens come to believe that the legal system, of which our police are part of, does not work or is biased then it clearly will not work and cannot help but eventually fail. As with government if those at the top do not respect the rules then what incentive is there for the citizen to follow them? Is this why we need more jails?

How can our system of law enforcement (or government) survive, as other than an arm of a dictatorship, if there are no repercussions for those responsible for upholding the rules, and they are not subject to the same rules and same punishment as the average citizen who does the same thing. Not only must there be equal treatment but such treatment must be seen to be done openly, equally and investigated independently of the very system that these folks are part of. When fellow officers either through a sense of loyalty, fear of repercussion from colleagues, or some other repercussion of speaking out, remain silent in such situations they are no less responsible for the ever decreasing respect with which their job is held than those that abuse the power that such jobs hold. Continuing in this direction is a recipe for more civil unrest not less, its a difficult job, do your job with as much restraint as possible officers, but do not protect those amongst you that clearly cannot be trusted with such power.

Support Democracy - Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers

1 comment:

thwap said...

I agree. For my part, sometimes I condone violent protest, although I believe that if anyone does that they should be willing to face the legal consequences for their actions.

At the same time, the authorities must use coercive and legal authority proportionate to the actual "danger" represented by the protesters. This is not been the case with Alex Hundert.

But the larger point of your entry is that when the authorities abuse their power, with impunity, it lowers citizen respect for these important institutions.

Things like harper's prorogations or surprise Senate killings of House of Commons legislation, and things like brutal, unaccountable police thuggery, are all working to destroy Canadians' respect for the system that COULD be used to benefit the majority if the majority were made confident that processes would be respected.