The great thing about living in a democracy is, well, living in a democracy.
Characteristics of a democracy include things like power exercised by citizens, or officials elected by citizens. Majority rule, but with human rights, equality, freedom of media, speech and religion. And – most significantly, for the purposes of this morning’s civics discussion – free and fair elections.
Elections are good. But, surveying the aforementioned media, some days, you’d never know that.
Take, for example (please), Ontario. In a couple days, an election is about to get officially underway in Ontario. And that is a good, good thing.
Many hacks and the flaks, however, don’t think so. Kathleen Wynne is one of them. Wynne was selected as Ontario Liberal leader by a few hundred Grit delegates more than a year ago, but she hasn’t been elected by millions of Ontarians in a general election. Despite that, she very much gave everyone the impression she wanted to continue in that role – Selected, not Elected – for the foreseeable future. The pesky Opposition, however, decided to vote against her 2014 budget. The arrogance!
Mortified, Wynne later appeared at a Toronto bar to sound mortified. “We would have loved to have had the opportunity to immediately implement that budget, but [NDP Leader] Andrea Horwath and [PC Leader] Tim Hudak decided they want an election,” she said, with a straight face. Behind her, Liberal staffers held up prepared signs reading “WHAT LEADERSHIP IS,” apparently unaware that, grammatically, you should never end a sentence sounding like Yoda. (Or, politically, raise a question you can’t answer.)
Wynne’s candidates were also in high dudgeon over the Opposition, you know, opposing. For example, the Liberal candidate for Algoma-Manitoulin, Craig Hughson, has been getting ready for an election for months. But there he was in the Manitoulin Expositor over the weekend, professing his shock and horror that democracy has unexpectedly broken out. “I am surprised but ready for this unnecessary election,” said Hughson, an authority in sucking and blowing at the same time.
So too some media. The Toronto Star’s biggest front-page story in Sunday’s paper huffed that the Opposition’s desire to have an election was “backfiring,” quote unquote. “Forcing” Wynne into the June 12 election, as the Star put it, was somehow a bad thing. Why?
Well, because a poll told them so. The Liberals were going to win again, decreed the pollsters, so why bother? Left out of the Star’s analysis was disclosure that the polling firm in question, Forum, had previously declared that the Wildrose Party would win a huge majority in Alberta in 2012 (wrong), the Parti Quebecois would win a huge majority in 2012 (wrong), and that the B.C. NDP would win a huge majority in 2013 (wrong).
But the message – from the selected Premier, the unelected candidates, and some feckless media – was the same: elections are unwanted. They’re “unnecessary,” even.
Sorry, but that’s a damnable lie. Every day, in every part of the world, millions of people pray that they could have what Canadians have. They risk life and limb to get here, in fact, to live in a democracy. And, at the risk of stating the blindingly obvious, they know that you cannot have democracy without elections.
The likes of Wynne and Hughson deserve to be condemned for implying that democracy is unwanted. It isn’t.
They, however, may well be after June 12.