[Thoughts on “Democracy”. Letter to Editor, submitted but not published.]
Dear Sirs: North Shore News, re editorial “The Biggest Loser” – May 15, 2009
Having been a candidate in the last three elections in the past 8 months (federal, school board, provincial) I would like to pass on a few observations:
1. Of the 18 provincial North Shore candidates I scored the lowest number of votes. However much that shows disfavor with my philosophy (minimum government) it does not equal a zero value — to me anyway..
2. I think people do not equate democracy or even freedom with voting at general elections. I felt that many people did not vote because they accept the status quo – there was no urgent need to switch, especially in mid-stream of serious economic problems.
3. Though many really do crave a voice in decisions that affect them, STV was not seen to be of immediate benefit. The delay before any real changes could happen was discouraging. Benefits were too far away in the distant future, with no assurance of voice anyway.
4. Voting, in my opinion, is neither a duty nor a privilege, and non-voting is not a shame. Compulsory, government-mandated voting (under duress of fines) is coercive and unthinkable and shouldn’t even be mentioned in editorials in Canada.
5. No, democracy is NOT just about elections, with the opportunity to “throw the bums out” from time to time.
6. BUT, democracy still can be stolen from under our feet by stealth and persistence. Here is one example I am familiar with:
My long experience with education made me very frustrated about the why’s and wherefore’s of the obstacles to meaningful reform. This was so upsetting until I discovered an incredible expose of our own Ministry of Education which documents the effective takeover by the BC Teachers Federation. Please read the paper easily found on the Internet, “The Decline and Fall of the BC Ministry of Education” by Dr. Thomas Fleming of the University of Victoria. Through assiduous application of “cold war” tactics the teacher union has become a seeming “parallel” de-facto government in education. Regardless of which political party is in Victoria this makes no difference. Since 1972 the militant union pursues its relentless agendas. It is an eye-opener to read this short paper about how parents, public and ministry have acquiesced to this aggressive extra-parliamentary power.
The newly re-elected government has promised a review into education. This is an opportune time to exercise our democratic rights to present complaints and suggestions.
If I was active in other fields, I wonder how many other pieces of research I could find where our so-called democratic institutions are eroded or being undermined by stealth, either through organized lobbies, business arrangements, union aggressiveness, or other forces beyond citizen oversight.
No, apathy is not a threat to democracy when people fail to vote in elections. But democracy is seriously compromised when we, citizens and media, fail to keep our governments accountable or we turn a blind eye to opportunists seizing power behind our backs.
Sincerely, Tunya Audain,