Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Maybe We Need to Pass a Civics Test Before We Can Vote

Of all that has happened in the last few days, the thing that worries me the most is the level of ignorance over how Canadian democracy works. I cannot believe that schools stopped teaching political science and our political history after I graduated. Yet clearly Stephen Harper and his supporters are able to sway people because Canadians have no clue that "we elect a House of Commons." (Peter Russell, The Toronto Star, 3 December 2008)

We do not elect a Prime Minister.

(I don't remember seeing Harper's name on my ballot, do you? It actually is a bone of contention that I've had with our democracy for many years, that I have no say in who our leader is.)

I am with Professor Russell when he writes:
"I am greatly concerned that there is so little public knowledge of the
constitutional rules that govern our parliamentary system of
government. These rules are not formally written down in a legal text
or taught in our schools. Maybe the most important lesson to take from
the situation we are now living through is to begin to codify as much
as we can of this "unwritten" part of our Constitution and to ensure
that it is well taught in our schools."
What has become clear to me is how much smooth change of power in Parliament and Legislatures and their stable operation depends on politicians acting honourably. The problem here is that Harper does not want to and is the first politician to buck the majority will of the House. Repeat: Harper is bucking the will of the majority of Members of Parliament who represent the majority of Canadians.

We need every broadcaster, every newspaper to hold an honest history lesson, sans partisanship, complete with video, cute animations, and celebrity narrators, on how our Parliament was formed and works and on who we vote for ASAP. Because clearly most Canadians are total dunces on the subject and are thus patsies for political revision. The real danger in that is Canadians will become complicit in emasculating our democracy and turning it into dictatorship by Prime Minister.

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