12 September 2011

Democracy week Sept 12-18

The United Nations has declared September 15th the International Day of Democracy. Fair Vote Canada is expanding the day to Democracy Week, September 12th to the 18th. The week, according to Fair Vote's website, is all about "participating, celebrating, understanding, and improving our Canadian democracy."

As I contemplate those four words "participating, celebrating, understanding, and improving," I can't help but feel this country need a great deal more of all of them and not just during Democracy Week. Participation has not been impressive recently with some very low voter turnouts at all levels of government. As for celebrating our democracy, well, that we hardly do that at all. With the rampant apathy toward the weaknesses in our democracy, such as our lamentable first-past-the-post voting system, we obviously need both more understanding and more improving of democracy.

The voting system is by no means the only area where we need improvement. We have precious little democracy in one of our most important places—the workplace. Our mass media is seriously flawed in serving its function as the chief public forum of democracy, vested as it is in corporate interests who shamelessly use it to promote their own agenda. Indeed, we allow corporations to intrude excessively on the citizens' democratic prerogative in a variety of ways: contributing to political parties, funding front organizations such as the Fraser Institute, and of course dominating the economy to the point they can bend any political party to their will. We are as much a plutocracy as a democracy.

So yes, we need a lot more "participating, celebrating, understanding, and improving," with the emphasis on improving, 52 weeks a year. The International Day of Democracy and Democracy Week will hopefully serve as reminders of this.

As my blogging participation in Democracy Week, I plan to write a short essay discussing what I believe would be the best voting system for Canada and post it this coming Thursday, the International Day of Democracy.

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