Thursday, October 14, 2010

Another One Bites the Dust and Democracy Shrinks

This Toronto mayoralty race began 10 months ago with former Ontario-Cabinet-bulldog George Smitherman all but declared the winner and several candidates biting at his heels. I looked in vain for one of those ankle biters to be a woman, and finally Sarah Thomson joined the fray of Councillors and party hacks vying for top job.

Since then, the media and pundits, led by The Toronto Star, have been steadily gutting the field. I don't think they were too happy that their groomed prince Smitherman, mostly because of the piss poor advice to lay low, was losing to this rag tag field of Councillors, party hacks, and one lone woman, also the only non-partisan in the "top five." They got their way today to reduce the election to essentially a two-horse race, but is democracy served?

Nope.

While they were busy gutting the field, they also gutted democracy. As mayoralty candidate and Councillor Joe Panatalone noted -- which was quoted in The Toronto Star's Greater Toronto section today, what irony:

"In democracy, the more voices and alternatives being offered, the more intelligent the discussion."


That's the nutshell.

Whether it's Prime Minister Stephen Harper cancelling the census, the Federal government's axing of courses on the law and ethics for the civil service, the long-held Canadian societal belief that learning is bad in small children (let them play), the media with their expanded ability to disseminate information paradoxically reducing the amount and depth, or the tendency of shrinking a politicial race down to two horses with sound bites and little to say, the intent is to stifle intelligence. The intent is to keep informed discussion out. The intent is to make issues superficial and black and white.

Nuanced discussion is bad for certain power seekers. (Others have no problem serving Canadians and Torontonians for their constituents' interest because they're true leaders.) Ignorant voters, an ignorant populace, are easily manipulated by those in power, whether that power is in the head offices of media companies or the PMO.

And so with Rossi out of the race, with viable quality candidates going unmentioned, with the Green Party and NDP being penalized by the first-past-the-post system, with the concentration of power in the PMO, democracy in Canada continues its downward slide while Canadians watch placidly, well fed by newspapers, television, and mainstream media online.

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