Democracy under assault

Photo: OAS

Dear Sir

The pandemic has changed many things once commonplace to us all. It has highlighted the power of cooperation and solidarity in our local communities and globally too. This pandemic has also shown us the facts, science and the rules, which have been democratically agreed upon, can save our lives.

We live in a democratic nation. Our constitution is under attack daily, being degraded because of the methods we have chosen to protect our greater population. We have been asked to apply wise direction to our lives, direction studied and decided upon by our freely elected officials. Our economic model has been challenged and has put excessive pressure upon our democratically elected administrations.

Businesses survival vs population safety. Workplace safety vs business profitability. A citizens right to choose vs community standards of safety.

Can we overcome these challenges? Can we strengthen our democracy?

Democracy is about the freedom, justice, tolerance and solidarity of our community. These are infused into one spirit, under the rule of law, and if we are all bound to this spirit, we can show our support through respect for those rules. It comes to this, that of responsibility to ourselves, our families and our community. This responsibility lies with each one of us.

Democracy is a living thing, where each citizen is engaged through healthy debates and respect given and received. We are all different. None of us thinks exactly alike. I sure hope not. We need to distinguish where our values and opinions vary. Values are what bind us, even if our opinions differ.

Democracy will flourish if our citizens are engaged and our institutions are strong. There is within our community those who see democracy as a source of weakness. They want to bend our laws and rules to serve their interests rather than create equal conditions for all. We must search out those who wish to manipulate, transform and use our precious system to their selfish benefit.

We can see attacks upon our rights and freedoms, whether it be in your face or the more subtle approach. We are losing our rights to self-expression on the internet, in books and in media daily. Our governments wish to protect minorities over the needs and wishes of the majority. You cannot express outrage, a difference of opinion regarding others lifestyles, religions, or political expressions for fear of fines or imprisonment. Democracy values self-expression: If you do not agree with someone, business practice or a political expression simply communicate your thoughts, don’t visit the establishment of opposition, and speak your mind respectfully.

We must require responsible political leaders. They are the ones who set the rules and they choose responsibility whether to highlight what divides us or what unites us. Whether they choose to tell the truth, even if it is unpopular. A democratically appointed official therefore voluntarily limit its power.

It chooses how and why it will act. A premier who does not want to take the right of choice from his fellow citizens. Asking others to act responsibly instead of forcing others legally to carry the line.

Our democracies are not perfect. In fact, they, like human beings are imperfect. If our citizens are engaged, and we have strong institutions ruled under a robust rule of law, We can become stronger, freer and better people.

Steven Kaszab

Bradford, Ontario


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