Canada is a democracy, for most that means citizens are able to select the individuals who represent us in government, be it at the federal, provincial or municipal levels. In point of fact Canadians have five levels of government, in addition to the aforementioned three, there are also elections to select regional representatives and school trustees.
Western style liberal democracy typically assumes certain rights and freedoms, including the right to vote. Of course its not a perfect system, we've all heard the oft recited bromide that goes something like 'democracy is the worst form of government, but its better than all the others'. That's a statement with which I whole heartily agree.
For me the central point, the cornerstone, the supporting column of our democracy...is participation. Participation can take many forms, from placing one's name on a ballot and actually aspiring to elected office, to simply taking the time to go behind a partition and mark an X. Canadian citizens have the right to join established parties, or to found their own. We can run as a candidate, or volunteer to help elect an individual we think worthy. Or we can simply vote, the choice is ours.
But as many are aware by now, nearly 10 million Canadians decided not to participate in our democracy at the federal level this past October. Over 40% of Canadians made the decision to not vote at all.
Why? How is it that the so many Canadians didn't take the time to partake in our democracy's most fundamental privelege?
In my last blog entry I had the temerity to express an opinion, that with Canadian soldiers fighting and dying on the other side of the world, that those of us safe at home had an obligation to exercise our franchise. I went so far as to say that not voting is akin to spitting on the graves of our fallen soldiers, with 125 now having made the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan.
Then the excuses came.
Anonymous commented that the choosing of candidates is imprecise. That candidates frequently lie, or are beholden to special interests who bankrolled their campaigns. This non-voter then went into a long winded analogy about shopping, about how she/he wants to be able to pick and choose on the issues...the same way one puts only the items they want into their shopping cart. Ergo if no one candidate matches your views exactly, then not voting is reasonable.
Have we become so self centred that compromise and reasonable accommodation is impossible? Societies such as our's never would have come into being with this degree of narcissistic behaviour. This "I want it all" mind set is the height of greed and reeks of the way spoiled children behave. If I can't have exactly what I want in a candidate, then I'm not voting at all.
Parkadeboy took exception to my use of our fallen soldiers...saying:
My brother in law is currently serving in Afghanistan in the Canadian Armed forces. He is 28. He has NEVER voted in his life!! He says that he doesn't trust politicians! He is there because he has a keen sense of adventure and his tour of duty has nothing to do with his desire to bring 'democracy' to the Afghans.
My response is this. Citizens in our society are fortunate to have the right to decide whether or not they wish to join the military, a right that does not exist in many countries. An individual can decide to join, or not to join...that is the right of the individual held up by our constitution, supported by our courts and enshrined in law by our elected officials. There are many rights and freedoms enjoyed by the citizens of this great nation, but sadly many take them for granted...no doubt some of our soldiers fall into that category as well.
I won't appolgize for, "flag waving rhetoric such as spitting on the graves" parkadeboy. Those individuals wearing our nation's uniform represent us, they do so proudly and with honour. They represent our beliefs, institutions and ideals...and Canada is a democratic country, shaped by the laws and policies of our elected officials.
To Chrystal Ocean who said in part:
...half of us choose not to vote for reasons including disgust with politicos and disgust with our representative democracy whose voting system ensures it is in fact NON-representative.
COcean, Canadians can help vote a politician into elected office, and we can help to vote him or her out as well. As for our system being "non-representative", I'll get to that in a bit as its a theme touched on by another blog dog.
Skinny Dipper chimed in with this:
If we get rid of our antiquated First-Past-the-Post voting system and change to some kind of proportional voting system, I would be happy to vote. Canada's voting system is bogus; I refuse to participate in the charade of voting just to please some dead soldier.
"Some kind of proportional voting system"??? Okay...what kind would you like? What if it doesn't fit with what spoiled brat 'Anonymous' wants in his shopping cart? Maybe we could have millions of different voting systems, and then settle it by rock paper scissors? Of course our system isn't perfect, nothing constructed of human hands or ingenuity ever is. Hearing comments like this makes me wonder why some don't move to a country ruled by a dictator. We love our freedom of expression, but thumb our noses at the institutions which created and protect such freedoms.
ADHR had this to say:
If someone gives me something, then it becomes mine. I can do what I like with it. I can treat it badly, I can treat it well, I can use it effectively and decently, or I can set it on fire and smash it to pieces. That's what makes it mine. If I'm still obligated to someone else, if I have to take their views into account, then it's not really mine: it's theirs.
My response ADHR is this. That which can be given can also be taken away...and has been throughout the course of human history. Canadians are lucky to have been endowed with something very precious, the right to vote. If we treat it badly, set it on fire and smash it...then we never deserved it in the first place.
Skinny Dipper then chimed in a second time bemoaning a lack of true representation, as Ms. Ocean had before...saying that:
The autocrats run Canada. And they want to pretend to call Canada a democracy.
The autocrats can try to run Canada, that is their right. Those of us opposed to Canada being governed by certain elites or interest groups can mount our own soapboxes and make our voices heard about the way we want Canada run, that is our right. Everyone thinks they're right and the other party is wrong, well maybe not 'everyone' but certainly a lot of people. Sometimes you'll win, sometimes you'll lose.
Democracy is a never ending battle, but when we stop fighting...and stop voting...that's when we lose. Some have tossed in the towel, I haven't.
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