Canadian Democracy: Back To Hibernation

With the Canadian elections over, Canucks will soon be reminded of the political reality of Western democracy today. Democracy has begun its hibernation for a few years. As I’ve argued in my blogs, democracy is not the same as the mere election of representatives in a legislature. Democracy is a relationship between the governed and the government, one in which people power dominates and the citizen body determines its own governance.

 With MPs back in Ottawa, the restricted citizen participation period is over. Citizens were invited to have their say on what they liked and disliked about the past, as well as what they wanted in the future. Some politicians actually heard citizens while others couldn’t be bothered knowing that the party leadership was going to dictate policy. This wasn’t a brief window of people power. This was a brief window of ‘let’s have people speak’.

Lest it’s not obvious, at no point did the citizen body govern, at no point did it set targets, policies or strategies during this window. No, no, no, that would take us down the slippery slope towards …. democracy, which would up-end the entire political infrastructure and put to waste the time, energy and effort which thousands of politicians had invested over the decades in the political apparatus.

MPs are now snug in their seats. For the most part, they have no resources. They barely have a voice in parliament given its role as staged theatre to the tune of the party whips. We won’t hear much from our MPs besides their (naturally bias) claims of their success in their periodical bulletins. Yes, they will attend local opening ceremonies and give awards. They may even intervene for us as individuals in the public system to expedite or scrutinise. But that’s about it.

And then in a few years, we will be invited yet again to vote in the federal election for an MP. On what basis, I am not entirely sure because we have no idea what our MP did or didn’t do ….. with their non-existent resources and their throttled vote in parliament. Nor will we have an independent evaluation of our MP’s output to rely on. This dovetails into the reality that our government is fundamentally controlled by the prime minister and his office, not our MP.

If all this has the look and feel of a broken record, we would do well to at least recognise the political system that we have. It’s one that our democratic ideals rest on. And unfortunately, as with many other things in the technology era, we’re increasingly aware that our ‘democratic’ system is not delivering what we want from our government.

saqib qureshi