Musings —12.12.2016 10:59 AM—
To whom does democracy belong?
Its parentage is uncertain. As with “values” – about which the Lilliputian Kellie Leitch arrogantly claims to be the final arbiter – “democracy” gets invoked by politicians all the time. They insinuate that democracy, and the values that make up a democracy, are known to them and them alone.
But democracy, as clichéd as it may be, belongs to the people. The politicians apparently need to be reminded of that, these days.
Last year, of course, the Liberal Party of Canada offered up high-sounding promises about democracy in its election platform. Tucked in there were four vague sentences about electoral reform. The platform solemnly promised that Canada would never again conduct an election under the so-called “first past the post system.”
The promise was designed to suck in New Democrat voters, and it worked smashingly. New Democrats always believe that they lose elections because the system is at fault, and not them. So Dippers stampeded over to Justin Trudeau.
The paradox, historians will note, is that the Liberal Party never expected to be lifted from a distant rump in the House of Commons to a commanding first place, and a huge majority government. They, like everyone else, thought they would hold Stephen Harper to a minority, and then take back government in 2017 or 2018. Thus, their platform was chock-full of promises they never, ever expected to keep: deficits of no more than $10 billion, revenue neutral tax breaks, fighter jet procurement, restore door-to-door home mail delivery, revolutionizing C-51, and – as noted – comprehensive electoral reform. And so on.
A year later, the electoral reform promise is in shambles. And, when you think about it, the “democratic reform” file has been an utter fiasco from the earliest days. From those four oblique sentences in the Liberal Party platform (promising bold change but not saying what the bold change would be), to now, when the whole thing has spiraled downward into Twitter hashtag farce (there are some really good ones, too!): it’s been a disaster, from start to finish.
The minister responsible, Maryam Monsef, bears responsibility for some of that. Monsef did herself no favours by criticizing the work of an all-party committee into the issue – or by sounding less-than-candid when some conservative conspiracy theorists earlier cooked up a racist “birther” narrative to destroy her and her policy.
But she has also been subjected to more abuse and derision than any cabinet minister since Bev Oda, she of the $16 orange juice fame. This writer’s strong suspicion is that the hostility and hatred that Monsef has endured (as with Oda) possibly had something to do with (a) her gender and (b) her race. We’ll never know that for sure, of course, but (as with Oda) Monsef’s coming punishment seems to be far, far out of proportion to the offence.
There is plenty of blame to go around, however. Personally, this space is unimpressed with all of the combatants in what has become a hellacious mud-wrestling match. There is much to oppose, if you are a sensible person.
You should oppose the “referendum solves everything” approach – favoured by Conservatives and separatists – because we still don’t know what the question would be. (And, irony of ironies, what kind of referendum would it be? Fifty per cent plus one? Two-thirds? Ranked ballot style? )
You should be against the New Democrat approach, which is proportional representation by stealth. They want that system because it guarantees them seats, even when they run a crappy election campaign, which is something they do with impressive regularity. For Dippers, proportional representation is like an electoral pension plan without end.
You should also be against the Liberal approach, which is to tinker with democracy for no apparent reason whatsoever. It may be imperfect, per Churchill, but our system of electing and governing is a Hell of a lot better than all of the alternatives, isn’t it? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, etc. To wit: before now, was anyone standing around the water coolers of the nation, saying: “God almighty, I didn’t sleep again last night because our elected representatives are insufficiently informed about the Gallagher Index!”
Enough time has been wasted on this file, politicians. Donald Trump is bringing the world towards the brink of some sort of a war with China, and this is all you have to worry about?
Get a life. It’s our democracy, not yours, you solipsistic, self-interested egomaniacs.