Thursday, 12 July 2012

Canada Day 2012 - Observation

An essay on Canada's 145th birthday Happy Birthday Canada! Yes, the country I love and the people I respect. But, I have some difficulty using the word proud or pride to describe my country. Yet it does seem to be an appropriate emotion for what I feel. Proud signifies an overwhelming feeling of love or affection for having achieved a measure of dignity beyond the norm. To say that about a country seems awkward as the country itself achieves nothing, it is the people of Canada to whom the word pride would best be descriptive of, if indeed, the people have achieved a measure of dignity beyond the norm. I think that as a citizen of Canada, I'm more 'happy' than proud to be living here. I am happy for the freedom that is not available to so many in other countries, for the general feeling of safety from harm, for a health care system that has helped me greatly. And, I receive a decent national pension that allows me to feel a sense of security. As well, I have an opportunity to protest inequities and inefficiencies when basic needs are not seen to be met. I can protest without fear of reprisal in one or more of the many forms in which it could be manifested. So, I'm happy rather than proud. Happy also that this country Canada is filled with natural beauty, natural wealth and bountiful resources. But, all is not well in my vision of happiness throughout this country on the eve of its 145th Birthday. Happiness and pride aside, there is one major thing about our country that I am profoundly ashamed of – it is the Government of Canada. I'm angry and frustrated that we Canadians are not able or willing to see how the many fundamental happy things are vulnerable and in danger of being lost or negatively altered without national input. However did the Canadian people fall so quickly into allowing the meaning of democracy to become something very near to a self-serving quasi-dictatorship that has stolen the word and intent of' power' from the true message of democracy, that is, 'power to the people'? How could we have permitted a group of so-called parliamentarians to arbitrarily rule without transparency and so vainly in support of corporate favouritism? How did we let it slip by – the fact that we have child-poverty, homeless individuals, rigged voting, and food banks in a country of wealth and denial of environmental risk in the face of credible, scientific evidence? How, indeed? This essay is not meant to be a catalogue of the Harper Government's intentional secrecy and misuse of control. Such an effort would require an entire book. This is simply an essay aimed at bringing back control and power to the people, the public of Canada. But, how to do that daunting task, perhaps more accurately – can it be done? It will necessarily require the will of the people to do so. One of the ways in which it can be changed, despite a majority ruling status in our free country is to call on the Members of Parliament to fulfill their base role as representatives of their constituents and not their party-line. That means a lot of Conservative MPs will need to confront Stephen Harper with issues of transparency, intentional secrecy and then, independently act on their constituent's concerns. I suspect that not many MPs have that kind of strength or that level of courage or a basic understanding of the value of true democracy. Canadians, like the population of our neighbours to the south have a the growing belief that many voters now have - we doubt the sincerity of politicians and not just those of the Conservatives or Republicans, or the Liberals or the Democrats and on it goes. Evidence of voting coercion and daily newscasts suggest that party politics and self-centred selfish intentions, time and again, over-rule a member's responsibility to his or her voters So, courage is necessary to turn around the existing absurdities that seem to sound more and more like American politics. Can we truly believe in the possibility that a large number of Conservative MPs will put their voters before themselves? Of course not. Life in the ranks of 'Yes man and woman' requires no more than complicity in the belief that status quo reigns, 'at least until I get my pension' or 'enough front page credibility to make me a celebrity'. Well, in my humble opinion, the belief that MPs will confront and chastise their bully leader will not happen. So, what is the alternative? Is there an alternative? Yes, but like all things worthy it will take strength, mobilization, conviction and the will to see a better Canada, one that we can be both happy with and, dare I say it, proud of, while still remembering that the country is the people. Short of having the Harper government collapse under its own weight of arrogance and megalomania we need to change the voting rules in Canada. The idea that 'First Past the Post' is a fair way to vote is simply stupid. Look at our last election, with less than 40% of the vote the Conservatives rule with a majority – 40% or less does not mean that a majority of Canadians voted for the Conservatives. That kind of absurdity leads to a miscarriage of Parliamentary procedure inasmuch as the opposing parties are helpless and cannot win a vote in the House while the Conservatives cannot lose a vote. How then is it possible to have proportional, country-wide voting on bills such as the omnibus bill, C-38? No wonder so many Canadians, especially young Canadians feel strongly that their vote will not make a difference. No wonder they are apathetic and feel disenfranchised from their own country. Canadian voters are entitled to have functional, just and representational voices speaking on their behalf. We can have what we are entitled to just by changing the voting system and not trying to change personalities influenced by greed and the need to be powerful. There are three voting methods that are practiced in over eighty countries of the world; they are: List Systems, Mixed member proportional systems (MMPS) and Single transferable vote (STV). Isn't it time to put to pasture the Ruling Class society of our present Parliament? (details of the above voting systems are available simply by a Google enquiry). It would be such a relief to be rid of the shame and distrust, arrogance and secrecy that lives within the Government of Canada and such a pleasure to be proud of our country and its government. Lawrence Uhlin Victoria, BC V9A 5G6 250-882-1116