Speaking up for democracy

Differences of opinion are OK but respect for each other is important

Letter writer Bob Allen, has expressed the concern that under the auspices of the current government, our democratic system has eroded. He does assure us however, that, “in Canada, we, including the government are governed by the rule of law.” I think Mr. Allen has his concerns and assurances reversed.

All duly elected governments will at some point introduce controversial legislation and policy upon which not all segments of the electorate will agree, and that of itself does not constitute an erosion of the democratic process. To suggest otherwise, is simply partisan, political nonsense.

Unlike Mr. Allen, I see no evidence of a Liberal, zen-like, insight into the needs of grassroots Canadians, whomever that group may be. But it does seem to me that plenty of evidence exists to suggest that the Liberal Party is more interested in obfuscation than presenting a tangible platform upon which they hope to govern the country.

In what has now become a familiar phenomenon, the Liberals have anointed yet another leader whose blunders are already reaching epic proportions. Personally, I find the thought of Justin Trudeau on the same international stage as Mr. Putin, cringe-inducing. However, this is simply my opinion. As it happens, my opinion is almost diametrically opposed to Mr. Allen’s, but the point to be made here is that this does not make either of us, or our views, undemocratic.

On election day, Mr. Allen and I will effectively cancel out each other’s vote, leaving the remaining electorate to decide who will govern the country. Once again, the basic tenet of democracy will unfold – unimpeded.

That brings us to the rule of law in this country. Recently, three articles appeared in National newspapers raising the issue of nine unelected people whose terms of office are limited only by mandatory retirement at age 75. Collectively, this group holds the power vested in them by Pierre Trudeau’s Constitution Act of 1982, to uphold or strike down any law of the land based on their sometimes arcane interpretation of the Constitution and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I am referring of course, to the Supreme Court of Canada. If there is a threat of eroded democracy in this country, it lies here.

The three opinion pieces I have alluded to were authored by Gordon Gibson, who has held many titles over the years, among them special assistant to Pierre Trudeau; Andrew Coyne, political columnist and son of James Coyne, the second person ever to be appointed head of the Bank of Canada; and Conrad Black – yes, that Conrad Black. These articles can be found on the Internet, and whether you agree with them or not, they are thought provoking and worth the read.

Full disclosure: I know Bob Allen well. We both belong to the same golf club and from time to time, we end up in the same foursome. He’s a great guy – a golfer, maybe not so much. This summer, he and I will undoubtedly play a little golf together and follow that up with a political discussion over a cold drink. We shall both listen respectfully to each other’s point of view, and then disagree on virtually everything. No one in robes will be required to interpret for us what each has just said. It all seems pretty democratic to me.

Neil Chester