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, April 7, 2019

Democracy Defined

This blog was started about a decade ago to highlight the lack of respect for our democratic conventions by the then second term Harper Regime and to highlight efforts to protect and enhance our system of governance. The change of federal leadership in 2015 gave me hope that the years of abuse were coming to an end and for a while there it was looking promising with the attempt to bring in a more equatable electoral system and a more diverse members of cabinet. Sadly the first item fell by the wayside and the latter is now in tatters due, at least in part, to the inability of two strong minded individuals to back down and / or compromise. I will not comment further on that particular mess there is more than enough opinion available on that out there, I will however expand upon how the interaction between the public, our elected representatives (of all stripes), the leader of the day and his appointed 'cabinet' , both provincial and federally, and our democratic norms is changing..... and not for the better.

One of the things that a change in the way we elect or representatives may have affected the balance of power both in the various legislatures across our nation and within our national government is the amount of influence those individuals we elect actual have within government. Back in 2009 in one of my first posts entitled MP or Party, Which comes first? I wrote “ The respondents to the forum on Public Consultations on Canada’s Democratic Institutions and Practices were of the opinion political parties are generally perceived as non-accountable, as neither good nor especially honest in communicating. Aspersions were cast on the quality, clarity, and ethical integrity of party platforms. “ Further on in the article I said “We have seen in recent time how, when an MP votes or speaks out against his party in support of his constituents he or she is censured by that party, often to the point of expulsion. As an independent they have even less resources and influence available to them to do their job …..”

How little things have changed ! Here in Ontario in the first year of their 'mandate' the Ford Regime is already down four of those individuals who dared to disagree with the blustering mouthpiece we call the premier and although there are over 70, mostly previously unelected, individuals in this 'new' legislature hardy a word has been heard from any of them. Said blustering fool and his unelected advisers are busy dismantling many of our hard won heath, education and social support systems and unlike in the federal system he does so with no further 'Upper House' checks. His actions thus far have been perhaps the best support for Electoral reform and the probable minority governments that would result. Our federal government seems to be doing their best to encourage change by default right now however I suspect that the change we will get will not be to our liking given the partisan inclination of ALL our political 'elite'.

Democracy Defined.......As mentioned above I dived back to some of my posts about democracy way back in 2009 and in rereading some of those articles now I find that whilst my opinions have largely remained unchanged I had a much clearer way of expressing those views than I am able to cobble together now in my dotage! I encourage you to scroll through a few of those posts (the entire list is available by date and title in the side bar) but here are a few brief extracts about democracy to get you interest.

Woodruff says:
Democracy is a beautiful idea - government by and for the people. Democracy promises us the freedom to exercise our highest capacities while it protects us from our own worst tendencies. In democracy as it ought to be, all adults are free to chime in, to join the conversation on how they should arrange their life together. And no one is left free to enjoy the unchecked power that leads to arrogance and abuse. Like many beautiful ideas, however, democracy travels though our minds shadowed by its doubles - bad ideas that are close enough to be easily mistaken for the real thing. …......

8 Principals of Electoral Systems
An electoral system is legitimate when it reflects the values of the voting public. Even if you’re not happy with the outcome of an election, you can accept it as legitimate if the electoral system is based on principles that most people value.
In effect, legitimacy is the result or consequence of a good electoral system. If a system reflects the seven remaining principles, it is bound to be legitimate.

Political Parties Forum Overview
The general image emerging from the forums is one of parties losing attention and respect from their potential clientele or members. They are generally perceived as non-accountable and, in some instances, as secret.
Parties were generally characterized as not immensely interested in recruiting members or hearing from ordinary citizens. They are perceived as neither good nor especially honest in communicating. Aspersions were cast on the quality, clarity, and ethical integrity of party platforms.

There is much more to be said on this subject in light of recent events both provincially and federally much of which I have probably touched upon at one time or another in the past 10 years. However given my difficulty in rationally dissecting the current collective political cluster fuck I will simply be highlighting and commenting upon a few of my past articles in the foreseeable future.

Support Democracy - Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers


Owen Gray said...

In retrospect, Rural, there is little that has happened in the last ten years to make us feel better about our democracy.

Rural said...

I believe that my coming look at past articles on that subject will bring that fact into startling perspective Owen.

Lorne said...

I often attribute some of our democratic decay to an apathetic and ill-informed electorate, Rural, but you make a good case for the structural problems within our system. Like you, I am absolutely appalled by the dismantling of the things we hold most dear in Ontario, and Ford is certainly not being held to account in any way by his feckless MPPs, with the recent exception of Randy Hillier, who he dispatched from the caucus quite quickly for showing some independence.

Rural said...

There seems to be a large collection of sheep in the Ontario legislature now days Lorne!

Alan Goodhall said...

Only the Greens & the NDP are talking seriously about electoral reform and the existential threat of a changing climate.

It's time for truth telling and acceptance of the societal changes we need to implement. Only the Greens have the gumption to put forward the required objectives in concrete terms and that is not popular. But popularity is not what we need right now. Our young people are waking up to that in the form global protest and we need to support them. Partisan leaders are tone deaf. Is there finally a growing recognition of that? It's starting to feel like it. but will it come fast enough?

Rural said...

Good to hear from you again Allen, I entirely agree with you on this one but fear that that the 'popularity' you refer to will win out and lead us deeper in the swamp.