#42 – A direction for democracy.

Listening to Justin Trudeau, MP, son of the late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, the other day, he posed a challenge for Canada’s 150th birthday that will take place in 2017. He explained that it would be an important year for our country. He suggested that it would be an ideal year to target setting a stronger identity for Canadians, new directions in politics and a more positive future.

That could be excellent timing. Setting new directions in Canadian politics is certainly overdue. Our politics have been going down a steep ramp into American style politics for too many years. While we learn much of our political communications techniques from south of the border, we have no need for the nastiness, the corruption, the questionable ethics, and the stifling of ideas and opportunity practiced so blatantly by our American cousins.

The reality is that there is no question that new directions take time to decide. It is a process that is not safe to rush. To reframe our country takes a long stretch of serious thought, discussion, consensus and a high level of agreement. We have no such process in place today. We will not agree on the process overnight.

But Canada must find the beginning of change. We need to find a process that will work for us. We need people to stand up and be counted. We need voices. We need books and blogs and scripts and magazine articles and newspaper opinion pieces and talk show discussion. No one person has the ideas alone. No one person can accomplish what must be accomplished.

It is likely that we need a constituent assembly. This would be an elected assembly of citizens from across Canada, chosen for their interest, expertise, determination and willingness to meet, discuss, compromise, challenge and bring forward a means to make our country more progressive, more democratic, more sensitive to the needs of our citizens and to meeting the needs of future generations of Canadians. How this assembly is elected, its mandate, the pressures it will have to abide and the time frames for it to meet and discuss are open to discussion.

We have to allow politicians to have a say, because they are our voice, but this is not what we elect them to federal or provincial office to discuss. Theirs is a finite term of office and a constituent assembly deals with a responsibility to the future.

Once the constituent assembly has issued a report, it must be open to discussion and amendment. It must be able to test its ideas in public opinion. If it is autocratic, it will fail. If it vacillates, it will fail. If it fails to communicate with Canadians, it will fail. The greatest challenge is to succeed.

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