Letter: We need to keep talking for a healthy democracy

We often look at our southern neighbour with alarm

We need to keep talking for a healthy democracy

I’m glad to see in letters to the Citizen, continuing discussion/debate about Canada’s system of governance. Recent letters from P. Harris and L. Mair illustrate two of these points of view.

We need to keep talking. There is ample evidence in current day, that democracy as we know it, or think we know it, is at risk. We often look at our southern neighbour with alarm, at how the Democrats and Republicans have a great deal of difficulty agreeing on anything, even when the public interest is desperately at stake. Points are to be scored, and power to be gained. Canada is not immune. We see splits in political opinion, raging disinformation in social media (when all else fails?), as well as attempts to undermine legitimate decision making authority. Many people are talking about individual rights at the moment, although rarely mention responsibilities.

L. Mair points out quite rightly, that political decision making is strongly influenced by and (seemingly) often controlled in central Canada. It wasn’t that many years ago when B.C. voters essentially concluded they should ‘not bother voting’ because Ontario and Quebec had determined the federal election outcome.

However, despite its flaws, we still have a democratic system. Thankfully, Canadians are free to vote for who they choose. It’s also the case, despite how it may seem to some, that democracy involves, not only in Canada but in other nations, collaboration building. In a minority parliament, canvasing support from other parties is legitimate practice. Despite L. Mair’s obvious anti-Liberal and NDP sentiment, a Conservative government in similar circumstance, is likely to do the same.

Regarding L. Mair’s comments about trampling citizen rights as well as violations of the Charter with respect to Covid-19 protocols, it begs comment. Regardless of how we may feel about it, elected officials, in tandem with Canadian and provincial health officials, have every right under the law, and arguably, a moral duty, to restrict our movements for a period of time to deal with the pandemic. We are the better off for it. Were there dreadful outcomes? Yes, some people died and some people may live with ill effects for years to come; some did lose their businesses during shutdowns; and some families could find no middle ground in their disagreements with public policy.

With respect to the ‘truckers in Ottawa’, I’m not entirely sure who L. Mair is referring to. It became apparent early on that the original trucker convoy, who soon packed up and left, was co-opted by another faction entirely. There was nothing neighbourly or thoughtful about them, by all accounts. “Extremely peaceful” is far off the mark. A lawsuit was launched by a local citizen in attempts restore peace and sanity to their neighbourhoods. The government of Canada enacted emergency legislation. I didn’t hear anyone arguing against legitimate, respectful protest. Unfortunately, what happened in that city, and in other parts of Canada, under the rubric of ‘Freedom Convoy’ has been anything but.

Lastly, I want to add, as well as acknowledge L. Mair and others who indicate that it is apparent many of our systems (health care, governance) are under strain. We are in need of serious and thoughtful review on many levels. I hope we can do that in a peaceful and respectful ‘Canadian way’. We are in need of coming together.

D. Wilson