The process of implementing the HST in BC continues to illuminate my long standing arguments about why people have lost faith in our system of government.
I have already written about the democraticness of introducing the new tax weeks after campaigning on a platform of no new taxes, but the Recall and Initiatives Act is an even better example of the safeguards in place to shield governments from having to represent the people.
The Zalmer’s initiative to repeal the HST under the Act is a noble gesture that is doomed to failure. Not because there aren’t enough people who passionately hate the new tax. Not because the drive won’t be well-organized. Not because of a lack of volunteers. The initiative will fail because even if the canvassers somehow collect enough signatures under the incredibly stringent guidelines, the government DOESN’T HAVE TO DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT! That’s right. Even if every single person in BC signed the petition, the government would not have to repeal the hated new tax! The Recall and Initiatives Act is specially formulated to ensure that, ultimately, the ruling government can not be forced to represent its people.
How’s that for democracy? The funny thing is that the ACT is a groundbreaking and revolutionary tool of modern democracy. Before its inception in 1994 we didn’t even have a pretend process for people led initiatives! Now at least we have that.
I just don’t get why we cling–like a monkey to her dead baby–to the label of Democracy, when we so clearly don’t have one. Maybe a true democratic system isn’t currently possible, but who decided that all you have to do is hold the odd election in order to use the title? Now anyone who has an election gets to call itself a Democracy. It’s ludicrous. Pericles and Cleisthenes would be all hella trippin on these noobs if they were up in these times.
I see almost no connection between a democracy, in which citizens debate issues and make decisions, and our current system, in which decisions are made by one party or the other. The best we can hope for is a change of oligarchies every few years. Are we cool with that?
And don’t tell me that adding the qualifier “representative” before democracy makes it OK. That’s an even bigger insult, as it implies, well, representation. “Representation” means doing something on behalf of someone, not to someone. The HST debacle illustrates this beautifully. The vast majority of citizens clearly oppose the HST. So who is being represented in its implementation?
I’m not calling for true democracy over night. I’m just saying let’s call a spade a spade.
Either change the system or change the name.