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

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

The Future To Come...

The following short clip from a piece by Italian novelist Francesca Melandri, who has been under lockdown in Rome for almost three weeks highlights how our perspective will change over the next few weeks and months. Each of us will be doing some self evaluation as the new reality sets in.

The true nature of the people around you will be revealed with total clarity. You will have confirmations and surprises.

Literati who had been omnipresent in the news will disappear, their opinions suddenly irrelevant; some will take refuge in rationalisations which will be so totally lacking in empathy that people will stop listening to them. People whom you had overlooked, instead, will turn out to be reassuring, generous, reliable, pragmatic and clairvoyant.

Those who invite you to see all this mess as an opportunity for planetary renewal will help you to put things in a larger perspective. You will also find them terribly annoying: nice, the planet is breathing better because of the halved CO2 emissions, but how will you pay your bills next month?

You will not understand if witnessing the birth of a new world is more a grandiose or a miserable affair.

On a somewhat related issue I note that here in Ontario, and I presume elsewhere, public recreational spaces have been closed leaving many folks little choice but to sit inside and look at the walls. 

The Ford government is ordering the closure of all communal outdoor recreational amenities across Ontario in order to help stem the transmission of COVID-19.
The order was issued under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act last night and is effective immediately.

Particularly those in urban areas, who want to 'get a little fresh air' and get out of their house or apartment for a short while, walk their dog or otherwise refresh body AND mind have very few choices left. Whilst we all understand that congregating in even small groups should be avoided and that both the volume of folks now not working and seeking exercise and fresh air coupled with a few uncaring people who made no effort to maintain 'social distancing' perhaps made these restrictions necessary I begin to wonder if there will be a substantial upswing in the  call for mental health support in the coming months. 
Stay safe folks and look after your physical and mental heath as best you can in thee difficult times.
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Sunday, March 29, 2020

Rural Isolation a Challenge or Opportunity

With all of us asked to stay at home unless we absolutly HAVE to go out into the larger community internet access has become even more of a nessity rather than just a desired 'service'. I am sure many city folks will be saying 'duh, so what, just get hooked up' but for both those with low income and many rural folks its not that easy. One way such folks could work around such limitations was by going to their local library as the following clip from this TVO article outlines.

Research the Kitchener library conducted in 2018 shows that one quarter of its community didn’t have access to home internet, Bach says. A 2017 Toronto Public Library survey found that, of 1,561 respondents at eight different public libraries in Ontario, 56 per cent used technology at the library and 46 per cent accessed the internet there. Sixty-three per cent of respondents who identified as low income were “more likely to find that library services gave them access to technology that they would not otherwise have had access to”; further, 68 per cent of respondents aged 55 and older said the library was their sole source of access to technology.”

Now whilst its great that the library's offer this service it does not help much in the current 'lock down' circumstances or to those far distant from such a facility, unlike those who think it is universally available and affordable the reality is that it is not. I cannot speak to those in more remote areas where it may be even more of a challenge but here in rural SW Ontario not that far from several good size towns and less that a half hours drive from a small city access can be hard to get for some of us. We generally don't have cable service out here so thats off the table all other services except for cell, which is not only very spotty but very ricy for any large volumes of data, is a line of sight connection of some kind. Trees, buildings, hills in the way of the nearest transmitter and you are out of luck, in my own case a 70 tower at several thousand dollars finally got me a decent hook up, plus of course the monthy fee that we all pay which runs away with several hundreds of dollars a year for a very modest 4 Mbs connection.

As a retired old fellow who relies heavily on the internet for both information and connecting with the outside world, as with this blog, as well as web connected email to friends and family world wide. I simply cannot imagine what folks who do not have this ability available as they 'shelter in place' are going through. So if you know someone who, like many of us, are reduced to avoiding contact outside of family at home but has no internet availability pick up the phone and chat with them once in a while, particularly if they live alone, are older and less resilient or are normally very outgoing.

As others have said let us look at this not so much as a challenge but as an encouragement to reconnect. Stay safe folks.

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Sunday, March 15, 2020


The common flu causes up to 5 million cases of severe illness worldwide and kills up to 650,000 people every year, according to the World Health Organization 
By comparison thus far there are approximately 125,000 cases of COVID19 reported and less than 5,000 deaths according to the WHO
In the US The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that so far this season, there have been at least 15 million flu illnesses for the 2019-2020 season, 140,000 hospitalizations and 8,200 deaths in the U.S.

The reduction in transatlantic flights due to concerns over spreading the virus will be very good for the air we breath. A plane like a Boeing 747 uses approximately 1 gallon of fuel (about 4 liters) every second. Over the course of a 10-hour flight, it might burn 36,000 gallons (150,000 liters). According to Boeing's Web site, the 747 burns approximately 5 gallons of fuel per mile (12 liters per kilometer).

According to ATAG, there are roughly 100,000 scheduled flights per day globally. To this we must add general aviation, air taxis, military, and cargo. In the US, scheduled flights are 1/3 of all flight (according to NOAA). Extrapolation would give a worldwide total of 300,000 daily flights.

Dramatic footage from the European Space Agency Copernicus satellite reveals a 'notable drop' in air pollution over Italy after the coronavirus lockdown. ESA shared an animation that showed a significant change in the pollution levels over Italy between January and March The same ESA satellite also revealed a drop in air pollution over China with tiny particles slahed in the wake of coronavirus.  The country's government closed down much of its industrial activity and restricted air and car travel to limit the spread of the killer virus.

There is little doubt that the virus can be a serious issue particularly for those folks not in good heath in the first place, the issue seems to be made more alarming by the speed with which such new illnesses can now be spread by the ease of world wide travel and our reliance upon vaccines (currently unavailable for this flu like bug) to protect us.

More Perspective......
Global human population growth amounts to around 83 million annually, or 1.1% per year. The global population has grown from 1 billion in 1800 to 7.616 billion (in 2018.) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Population_growth

A self defeating growth and travel perhaps?

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Sunday, March 8, 2020

An Undemocratic Democracy?

Pollister Nick Nanos opines in the G&M that perhaps Canada is a 'joyless democracy' and points to the fundamental disconnect between the economic numbers hurled at Canadians and the anxiety we feel about the future. He continues by wondering if there is a fundamental disconnect between democratic sentiment and parliamentary outcome in regard to the results of our last election which returned a minority parliament.

He goes on to suggest that this is perhaps because the outcome of the popular vote is not reflected by the various party standings in the HoC, this is hardly a new opinion for the efforts to change our electoral system early last term fell by the wayside when the various political partys could not agree on a new system. I would suggest that this was in part, if not mainly, because the various political partys and many of their supporters are scared of MINORITY Parliaments where to get ANYTHING done they would have to find consensus, seek compromise, be open to opposing ideas, something not seen much of generally in the political arena. Perhaps our 'representatives' are more cooperative behind closed doors but on the floor of the House and in public gatherings and social media they are far too busy slamming the other guy to say much productive. It is this that makes for that joyless opinion that so many of us are coming to have of our democracy.

We are a LONG way from having any kind of truly representative parliament here for not only is it, as we have seen, difficult to select an acceptable system from the many proposals and their various specific details but I suspect that even if such a system was brought in tomorrow how would our confrontational MPs react in what would almost certainly be a series of minority coalition parliaments. It CAN work as seen in New Zealand where they are on just their fourth coalition since 1996 and where their native population are part and parcel of that government. I see the desire for such a system building here in Canada but are we ready to embrace and support such a radical change just yet?

Finally a word about the dangers of social media.
As a senior citizen who has personally resisted the thrall of 'social media' I am hardly qualified to comment about its effect upon our democracy but will ask this: is the speed with which information both accurate and inaccurate can be spread part of the problem? How many of us take the time to determine the accuracy of what is being fed to us from the various modern media before having a knee jerk reaction and quickly head for our keyboard (or thumbboard) to add to the confusion. Think before you poke folks, once its out there its out there for keeps in this day and age!

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