In the 70’s and 80’s Canada was a well-defined democracy. We welcomed people from all over the world and they brought global culture and sophistication to add to the strong Canadian values already in place. At the time, our country was run on the principles of the Laski economic philosophy:
- Equality of opportunity for all
- The right of everyone to work
- Admittance to suitable education for each citizen
- Time for recreation
- Access to appropriate health care.
Our heroes were people like Tommy Douglas (Social Credit/NDP) and Nobel Peace Prize winner Lester B. Pearson (Liberal.) Our country functioned better than most and we were justly proud of our contributions towards making the world a more caring and just place.
People were treated with respect and elected representatives felt it was their duty to work towards solving the problems of the electorate who had put them into a position of authority for that specific reason. Even today, for the most part, people who go into politics seek the position because they really want to help make the county a better place. They feel they have something to offer and they want to do their part.
The system has become unhealthy and unmanageable—but underneath it all—the idealists are still there.
The real people care. Think of Mr. Mulcair when he spoke of his own children and grandchildren in relation to the little Syrian boy who had died on the Turkish beach; think of Justin Trudeau when he speaks of his own children. And over and over again we have seen Elizabeth May play the part of peacemaker, trying to bring everyone together. She recognizes that everyone deserves respect. She works unceasingly to fight for the rights of her constituents, but she also happily works across Party lines to build consensus for what needs to be done in parliament.
The broken system gets in the way. When citizens think of Parliament these days, “Question Period” comes to mind with all its nonsensical rambling and one ups-manship.
Our country needs:
- Educated and enthusiastic citizens and voters
- Politicians who are able to retain their idealism and focus
- A political fair-vote system that actually reflects people’s choices at the polls (e..g proportional representation)
- Platforms that provide money to help citizens get the jobs they need, well-funded public healthcare, schools, universities and public libraries.
- A program to welcome new citizens and ensure that they are able to find work in keeping with with their education and experience.
We need to become the compassionate democracy we once were. But we can do it!