Our government, politicians at all levels, the media, and our teachers keep telling us how lucky we are to be living in a democracy. Is this mantra repeated so often because they are afraid we might forget, or are they trying to indoctrinate us with their belief that we are living in a democratic society? They say Canada is democratic simply because the people are allowed to vote and choose their own government.
In the last election, approximately 60 per cent of the voting public voted against the Conservative Party, but that party won a majority of the seats in the House of Commons. Is that democratic? I don’t think so.
A party that gets elected with a majority of the seats in the House of Commons based on its electoral platform, and then suddenly changes its mind, or comes up with a multi billion dollar military purchasing policy which it never mentioned in the election campaign, is that democratic when the people cannot vote for or against this new policy until the next election? Is that democratic? I don’t think so.
Some people believe that if 40 per cent of the people vote for a party’s candidates, then 40 per cent of the Commons seats should go to that party. Fine. Who selects those candidates? Is it those 40 candidates who received the highest number of votes or does the political party make a list of all 308 candidates and the top 40 get elected? Is it fair that the party, and not the people decide which representatives should get elected? I don’t think so.
Some people believe that we should be able to vote for the candidate we like best and also for the candidate that we like second best. By eliminating the votes of the candidates who received the least number of first votes, and transfer their second votes to the more popular candidates, is that democratic? It would seem to be the better of the above evils. The people will have had a preferential vote, and would have more say in choosing a candidate other than their favourite to represent them.
Should we hold referenda whenever the governing party introduces a change to its electoral platform? Should we be asked constantly for our views on government expenditures? Would that be more democratic? I think so, but our governments at all levels will tell us that such a democratic system is too costly! At what cost is democracy? Thousands of Canadians have died in wars to preserve our way of life believing that we are a democracy. Can we not afford, financially, to make this country even more democratic?
So stop telling us how fortunate we are that we can vote. Go deeper into the meaning of democracy for a change.