I predicted that the Zalmer’s HST petition, while noble, would ultimately fail, as the Government has no obligation to honour the will of The People as voiced in mere petitions.
Indeed, the process was set up to fail. Most of us know the bar was deliberately set so high that it was never intended to be a real tool for citizen input, but I was surprised to read this week that Ujjal Dosanjh, the chairman of the committee that recommended the initiative process in ’93, completely admits that!
“We never in our wildest dreams ever felt that any initiative would pass, because we set the threshold so high,” Dosanjh states in an illuminating Globe and Mail article.
So in many ways the Zalm is already a winner on this one, even if the Government decides to continue ignoring the will of the people, which they can still do. Even the promised referendum is by no means a surety. Although we do have Gordon Campbell’s word on that one.
I didn’t see the referendum move coming, I have to admit that. It was probably about as good a move as possible politically for GoCam–it wasn’t enough to save him, but it did take some wind out of the Recall sails. Those sails seem amazingly full still, though, because the battle rages on.
The battle is no longer simply about the HST, though.
This battle pits proponents of our current system of Sortuvocracy, in which politicians represent their parties and special interest groups, against those advocating for Democracy. And the people demanding a say in public policy aren’t shutting up.
They’re organized, too, which is what makes this battle different. There is no doubt that the Internet, specifically Facebook in this case, helped to quickly galvanize the angry masses and demonstrate their opposition to the decisions of their “representatives.” The Internet wasn’t a factor when the group of politicians, headed by Mr. Dosanjh, got together to draft a mock procedure for holding themselves more accountable.
Will this usher in a brave new world, in which politicians are accountable to (or, eventually, replaced by!) the public? Or will elected officials continue to choose allegiance to their parties over representing the populace?
Time will tell, but you have to think that they will at least think twice before acting without consulting constituents, knowing that recall is a legitimate option now. We could be on the brink of something exciting.
Of course, the government could also just modify or scrap the recall and initiative procedure, knowing that it can actually work. Watch for this after the HST issue dies down.