Paul McCavour and Julie Turner’s letter ‘Party politics a problem for the province’ was dead on. The point that our democracy is slipping away and that we citizens are part of that problem is a truth that we had all better consider, because if we don’t the price will just keep getting higher.
Our political system has devolved into authoritarianism by the imposition of the narrow-minded doctrine of party discipline, which is simply a means of quashing free speech and votes in our forums of democracy. The laws, taxes, rules and regulations we have to live under and pay for are essentially by decree, announced in advance, are rubber stamped in our houses and nobody stands up for us. Our legislatures and House of Commons are a mawkish artifice; they could be gone tomorrow and nothing would change. The sad fact is that our political parties’ fundamental driving force is to serve themselves, not our country, and many dangers lie in that model.
The members of our political system show an amazing lack of interest in improving or even reviewing its own methods, performance, efficiency, ethical or democratic standards. There is an obdurate stoicism about how they conduct their business and we never hear a word from them on the subject. They are patently disliked and distrusted in general by the populace, are seen to be somewhat as a bad joke, but they seem to feel no compulsion to elevate themselves.
But what can we do? Free voices in our system would be a good start. First of all it would give us fair democratic representation, but would also add vitality and creativity in managing our problems. Before their transmogrification in pursuit of power, both Premier Clark and PM Harper had seen value in this and promised to bring about free voices and votes in the House of Commons and our legislature but have not kept these promises. It seems therefore that if anything is to be done it is up to us.
It might surprise you, but we do have the means.
Section 2 of our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees under law our right to freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, and Section 32(1) specifically applies these rights to our House of Commons and all our provincial legislatures. Nothing could be clearer that it is against this law to suppress free speech and votes in our houses, yet it is done with arrogant impunity under the doctrine of party discipline. This is also purely indecent in human terms.
So what we can do is to put this whole question before the judges of our nation’s Supreme Court via a public class-action law suit and ask for a decision to order freedom in our houses of representation.
That would be a good start to fix a system that won’t fix itself. Let freedom ring.