I have written two previous posts about Alex Himelfarb, Director of the Glendon School of Public and International Affairs at York University, former Clerk of the Privy Council, and fellow blogger. He is a man whose passion for democracy and societal fairness I deeply admire.
I was therefore pleased to see him sharing his thoughts on the state of our democracy in today's Star as part of a series that began yesterday with a piece by Allan Gregg entitled In Defence of Reason.
Today, Himelfarb begins with an observation with which I think most of us would agree:
We ought to be outraged. Almost daily our media provide new accounts of the decline of our democracy: the inadequacies of our electoral system and allegations of electoral fraud; the high-handed treatment of our Parliament through inappropriate prorogations and overuse of omnibus legislation; a government ever more authoritarian and opaque, resistant to evidence and reason, and prepared to stifle dissent.
But he also cites a sad truth when he asks why so many Canadians do not seem to care; it is one that I know many of us have pondered in frustration as the abuses of democracy under the Harper regime continue to occur on an almost daily basis.
Himelfarb goes on to discuss how the market mentality, the notion that material gains made under a philosophy of minimal government 'interference' has, in many ways, supplanted traditional notions of democracy, resulting in large benefits for the few and growing inequality for the many.
However, he does see some hope for change and renewal in the Quebec student protests:
Student leaders from Quebec have launched a cross-Canada tour to promote activism and the creation of social movements that provide a richer democratic experience than offered by contemporary politics, but also to explain to those who feel disenfranchised why voting and political participation still matter. They understand the dangers of leaving any government to its own devices, unconstrained by a vigilant citizenry.
Himelfarb's article, as was Allan Gregg's piece yesterday, deserves to be read and disseminated widely.