21 July 2014

Why Canadians must resort to the courts for democracy

Federal Conservatives have been complaining lately about the courts being used, in the words of MP Dan Albas, "to do an end-run around our democratic process." My immediate reaction to Albas's remarks was, what democratic process? If he is referring to our current governance, describing it as democratic is overly generous.

To begin with, our government is run by a party that won the support of less than 40 per cent of the Canadian people. In other words, we are governed by a party that a solid majority do not want governing us. This isn’t necessarily contrary to democratic process. In the past we have had governments, both Liberal and Conservative, that won only minority support but compensated by drawing ideas from across the political spectrum. This is not the case, however, with this government. It is led by the most dogmatic prime minister in my memory (and I’ll be 80 in November), a man uncomfortable with views not his own, a man who sees issues only in black and white. Never have I felt more alienated from my own government.

The current government’s style is illustrated by its environmental policy. Despite dramatic changes, I don’t remember it being presented to the people during the last election or being opened to the public for thorough discussion, and when finally presented to Parliament it was buried in omnibus bills thus precluding our elected representatives from properly debating it. Indeed, there have been suggestions that it was, in effect, written by the oil industry. In any case, this is not democratic process.

What then are the majority of us to do when our views are ignored? One perfectly legitimate recourse is the courts which, incidentally, often seem more in tune with most Canadians than the executive branch.

I agree that this is not the preferred approach. However if the government is concerned, it can do something about it. First, it could legislate an electoral system that would ensure a majority of Canadians are represented in their government. Second, before it finalized legislation, it could make an effort to hear and consider the views of all Canadians and then present a bill to Parliament such that each and every issue could be individually and thoroughly debated. Both of these measures are straightforward and could be initiated forthwith. 

Until such measures are undertaken to create a truly democratic process, concerned Canadians will have no alternative but to avail themselves of other means of having their voices heard. If Conservative MPs like Mr. Albas do not approve, they know what to do.

1 comment:

  1. The current government got 24% of the eligible vote. And the govern like a dictatorship. That's what I call stealing democracy.