Tag Archives: true democracy

What’s the “Occupy” movement about? Democracy.

The “Occupy” movement spreading quickly throughout the US and Canada is a call for real democratic reform.

I’m not anti-business, not even anti-rich people, but I am very excited about the movement and the potential for positive dialogue and change in our society. I don’t think the goal of the movement is to brand all corporations as bad, but to illuminate the fact that the citizenry (the other %99) have virtually no say in how corporations operate within our respective countries.

I’m not as interested in whether or not business execs are rich, but I am interested in how they got rich. Was it from cheap public resources? Policies favouring one corporation over another? Pouring waste chemicals into public rivers? Slavery? Deceptive advertising? Those are the things citizens deserve a say in, and politicians, beholden to the groups that fund their war chests, have repeatedly not acted in the public interest in these matters.

The heart of the movement isn’t about taking from the rich, it’s about highlighting the fact that citizens in our “democracy” are not allowed to participate in the decision making process regarding matters of public policy.

Though it kills the status-quo-nicks, the fact that there isn’t a hard list of demands from the participants is sort of the point! This isn’t a special interest group lobbying for their own specific benefit. The reason the movement has gained momentum is that young people will be demanding a say in every area of public interest. As hard as it is to fathom for some of us, young people are simply not going to be satisfied with our centuries old system of having a handful of people deciding for them all matters of public import.

Our system isn’t horrible, it’s just not democratic. More and more people are wondering why that is. There are going to be true democratic reforms–it’s inevitable–just a matter of how it comes about.

Politicians (and media) that continue to dismiss this movement as an unorganized group of misfits do so at their own peril!

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Will the HST saga bring democracy to BC?

As this chapter of the HST struggle winds down, let’s consider the potential impact of the process. For me, as a proponent of true democratic reforms, this has been a monumental struggle. The results of the referendum are less important than the fact that citizens–hard-working folks that pay the bills and whose lives are directly impacted–were given the opportunity to have a say in public policy! Continue reading

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Too many trustees? Trustee Variance Public Hearing (February 23rd, 7pm)

A reminder that there will be a public hearing on February 23, 7:00pm, Chatelech Secondary School to hear public input on the following motion:

“That the Board of Education of School District No. 46 (Sunshine Coast) explore the options of reducing the number of trustees from seven to five and changing electoral areas, including an ‘elected-at-large’ model.”

This discussion is all about public representation in the public school system, so community input is is of the utmost importance to me in considering changes to our current system of electing trustees.

Since trustees are the representatives of the people, my personal feeling is that if enough people are wanting changes to our system, then we should change it. I’m a big believer in more direct democracy in our society, and I’m critical of governments that don’t allow it. I don’t think all things should be decided by “The People,” but I think this is a perfect example of an issue that could be.

So I’m willing to put my money where my mouth is.

If enough people are clamouring for change on this issue, then I will support that. Trustees are your representatives, so if you think having less trustees will be beneficial, then I will support that. If you think there is a more equitable way to elect trustees, I’ll support that, too.

People do need to speak up, though, because the opposite is also true: if there isn’t a significant amount of people calling for change on this issue, then I am less likely to support going through the process of requesting that the Minister of Education make changes to our system.

Personally, I am going to be guided by the will of the people on this one.

So get the feedback flowing in: at the public hearing, via email, snail mail, blogs, tweets, skywriting, however! Just get it in!

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Filed under Canadian politics, Education, Sunshine Coast Board of Education

Make room for Christy Clark on my online voting bandwagon.

 Nothing like leadership races and looming elections to get politicians talking about populist ideas and citizen inclusion.

If only we had a system where politicians had to follow through on promises.

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E-voting: Coming to a city near you?

Surrey and Vancouver are planning to implement E-voting in upcoming civic elections, most likely due to my post last week on voting via the internet.

Well, maybe I can’t take all the credit, but I’m still excited by the news that we could see some form of E-voting sooner rather than later. The immediate prospect of increasing voter participation–particularly young voters–is exciting in itself but, for me, the potential this brings for true citizen involvement in public policy enraptures me even more than the rumoured Christy Clark fundraising calendar.

What say you?

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HST Referendum: $30 million or $7.95?

There’s been much ado about the cost of the HST referendum, and it’s valid ado. $30 million is a lot of money. However, my preliminary calculations show that referenda could actually be held for somewhere around eight bucks. Via the internet.

That’s right, the internet. You know, that thing we do everything else on. Like banking, shopping, and finding home remedies for weird rashes. I’ve been claiming that we will be using the internet to vote for years, and, until recently, most people have thought I was crazy. I think even the most adamantly opposed to the idea, though, now have to admit that it’s not a matter of if but when we will start using the internet to cast our votes. It is going to happen.

So why not start now? One of the main weapons in the arsenal of anti-True Democracy warriors has been the cost and feasibility of allowing The People a say in public policy. That particular weapon is about to become outdated. It is now completely possible to introduce some true democratic processes into our democracy.

I’m not for scrapping everything and having true democracy, at least not overnight. But, there are things that are perfectly reasonable for the public to decide on, and an arbitrary tax shift is a perfect example. We will now (maybe) have the chance to debate and approve or disapprove of the HST, but look at the process it has taken to get here. Matters like this should automatically be decided by the people, and now it is possible to do so.

Of course, it will take some will and cash to design a system that will make e-referenda possible. So let’s use that projected $30 million to design the system now. Once the system is worked out it will be in place for future referenda, elections, polls, etc. This will save millions (billions?) of  tax dollars for things like education, health care, and political pensions.

Should the HST be the first e-referenda?

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2010: HST+Facebook=The End of Sortuvocracy?

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.

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