Sunday, April 7, 2013

Healthy Governance

I look at our democracy in Calgary and realize how unhealthy our democracy is. Conservatives say they hate communism yet, we only have one governing party here. A healthy parliamentary system would have each riding with at least 4 or more parties having regular meetings, engaging in our community and keeping the sitting MP accountable. We don't have that here in Calgary, not because of the Conservatives, but because people have chosen to just join the Conservatives instead of building up their own opposing party in their riding. It might be the right choice and I haven't gotten there yet but for now, I believe in an alternative.

I would like to help instil civic duty into our society. It starts with each and every one of us. I don't care which party people decide to join. There are some great ones out there that aren't mainstream such as the Canadian Action Party, The Pirate Party, etc. that represent a wide range of ideas. I would love to see Idle No More just become the party of the people who realize there can be more balance between the people, the earth and industry. I'm sure many people arguably believe the Communist party/Revolution party and the Green Party already do that. Regardless, there are parties for every single belief. However, people can join the mainstream parties and still have a voice. $10-$20 a month to a political party of a person's choice would build up so much positive change. When people start to invest money, they also want a say in that organization. Each party has to listen to its membership. So if the membership agrees, the party will do it. Without people giving voice to an issue, it can't become a policy.

A pressing issue I've seen from activism and political circles is burnout. Instead of a small number of people being the ones doing all the work, if every single person dedicated 3 hours a week or an afternoon to a political movement, we'd have an incredibly healthy mode of governance. (I don't use the word democracy because if we had a healthy attitude of involvement from people in politics, I'm sure we'd see reform in some sort of fashion that would evolve the word democracy into something even better.)

Apathy. Where does this come from? Our short history leaves a long trail. From the Star review of Mary Janigan's book, Let the Eastern Bastards Freeze in the Dark:

"Janigan illustrates a distant and inattentive Ottawa primarily attracted to the vast tracts of rough country then known as Rupert’s Land and the North-Western Territories for their strategic placement and abundant resources, but not for the people who lived there.

In practice, the Prairie provinces were sold to Canada as nominal colonies. Riven by poor policy and mismanagement, Ottawa controlled all the revenues it drew from the West’s natural resources, as the cost of paying down the debt accumulated for the 300,000 pounds it had spent to broker the sale from the Hudson’s Bay Company via Great Britain.

In exchange, Ottawa flooded the West with new immigrants, giving away neat 160-acre lots often indiscriminately parceled from lands that had been lived on for centuries by M├ętis, aboriginals, and early settlers.

Early attempts at Western self-governance, led by men such as Louis Riel, John Norquay, and Sir Frederick Haultain, were systematically marginalized by John A. Macdonald and the prime ministers who followed in his footsteps, all bolstered by provincial premiers from Central and Eastern Canada who only wanted to see a return on investment."

We have a long history of cynicism here in Calgary. The feeling led to the Reform Party, the Cdn Alliance and now the Conservatives we have today.

Wait there is more! We also have the internet now too. Now we get to see first hand the real news and not just what the mainstream, privately owned and operated firms want us to see. There are lots of reasons for apathy. However, the bottom line is, we can't make changes from the sidelines. If people want to see political change, they have to get politically involved. We can access examples to other systems around the world from solar power plants to free transportation to Iceland, who threw their bankers in jail for ruining the economy. There really is hope for change.

Asking people to give a small amount of time and money to a political party can really be the difference to starting down a positive, non-violent path of reform. I believe Calgary is ready for that change because I see it all around me and hear it from so many. Obviously, this can be carried nationwide. So if asking people to consider this part of there civic duty too much? Nah. Besides, it could give us something else to chat about at Timmy's.

Have a wonderful weekend!