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, August 28, 2011

The Politics of Respect

As Stephen Lewis said in his eulogy To hear so many Canadians speak so open-heartedly of love, to see young and old take chalk in hand to write without embarrassment of hope, or hang banners from overpasses to express their grief and loss. It's astonishing.”

It was indeed, I am not a particular supported of the NDP but both Jack;s words in his final letter and Stephen's words in the eulogy struck a particular cord with me and, judging from the reaction to both, I am not alone in that!

Jack, I think, tapped into a yearning, sometimes ephemeral, rarely articulated, a yearning that politics be conducted in a different way, and from that difference would emerge a better Canada.
That difference was by no means an end to rancour, an end to the abusive, vituperative practice of the political arts. The difference was also, and critically, one of policy -- a fundamentally different way of viewing the future of Canada.
His remarkable letter made it absolutely clear. This was a testament written in the very throes of death that set out what Jack wanted for his caucus, for his party, for young people, for all Canadians.”

So many of us are sick of the way our politicians behave, the divisiveness created by inflexible party lines, the constant slagging of the other guys ideas and proposals that to hear a call for respect and “an economy that would embrace equity, fairness, balance and creative generosity.” at what was undoubtedly one of the largest public morning for a leader in some considerable time was perhaps just what we needed to give us new resolve to change things for the better.

Jack understood that we are headed into even more perilous economic times. He wanted Canadians to have a choice between what he described as the unfairness of an economy that excludes so many from our collective wealth, and an economy that would embrace equity, fairness, balance and creative generosity.”
We can but hope that the rich and powerful, those politicians with the power to initiate change (at least one of whom was present during the funeral) and those who sit across the isle in the House are as moved by these words as I was. Unfortunately I suspect few of them will be.

We're all shaken by grief but I believe we're slowly being steadied by a new resolve and I see that resolve in words written in chalk and in a fresh determination on people's faces. A resolve to honour Jack by bringing the politics of respect for all, respect for the Earth and respect for principle and generosity back to life.”

Thank you Jack (and Stephen) for your words of encouragement and guidance, as the Reverend said “the torch has been passed” now it is up to us.

Canada is a great country, one of the hopes of the world. We can be a better one – a country of greater equality, justice, and opportunity. We can build a prosperous economy and a society that shares its benefits more fairly. We can look after our seniors. We can offer better futures for our children. We can do our part to save the world’s environment. We can restore our good name in the world...................

My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.

Jack Layton 1950 -2011
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Saturday, August 20, 2011

Elections Canada Report

I will briefly return from my summer hiatus to bring a couple of things to your attention, first up a few things from the recent report by Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand. 
Much has been said in the past about the cost of an 'unnecessary' Election when it seems that some use this as an excuse to NOT hold the government of the day to account by going to the people before the next scheduled date, well folks at a cost of just $12 per person it seems to me that taxpayer cost is NOT a factor in such decisions. The now defunct per vote 'subsidy' was minuscule by comparison but I am sure that Harper will find a way to also cut the budget of Elections Canada to his advantage. I suspect that the cost to political partys and their supporters, particularly that spent on negative TV advertising, is much more of a factor. Unfortunately such choices are no longer available federally.
With the Ontario election period not even started yet we have already been bombarded with negative ads (supposedly from 'citizen groups') the cost of which must run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Seems the success of such tactics by the Harper regime has been taken note of by the provincial back room boys!!

The second piece of news is the ongoing study of moving towards on line (and / or other electronic voting methods) for the next federal election. Much has been said on both sides of this debate both in regards to federal election as well as provincial and municipal elections, I will not repeat it all here. I will however say this:- I believe it is inevitable, will indeed increase the citizen participation particularly amongst the 'younger' crowd and a secure COMMON system should be developed for all such elections. That said there is, as I see it, one major hurdle to be crossed that being 'verifiability', the ability to do a recount of the votes in the event of any problem (or perceived problem) with the software, hardware or personnel involved, and I do mean the actual votes NOT what the computer SAYS are the votes. This all goes to our confidence that the system cannot be corrupted and that our votes are indeed counted as cast. Perhaps some kind of computer receipt that can be recast in the event of problems or other feedback mechanism can be designed. It will be interesting to see what comes out of this initiave.

And lastly Elections Canada has also released the official poll by poll results of the 2011 federal election for those that wish to see where withing their riding they won or lost support, not that it will have a lot of validity in either the upcoming provincial election or the next federal election some 4 years up the road. Available at http://www.elections.ca/scripts/ovr2011/default.html

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