You would think in all the many years of human social development that democracy should have gained support and growing wide-spread usage around the world. We certainly agree that it is not perfect but we do agree that it is better than any alternatives. Yet tell it to the Russians and they want the oligarchy of Putin. Tell it to the Turks and they will support the autocracy of Erdogan. Tell it to the Iranians and you will find that not all support the theocracy of the Ayatollahs.
Think of the military juntas around the world that have usurped power from their citizens. Burma (Myanmar) is run by butchers. Countries such as the Philippines and Venezuela are on the slippery slope. China’s oligarchy will countenance no change. North Korea is a junta fronted by a farce of a dictator. And the supposed heart of democracy, the United States of America is led today by a would-be tyrant.
And why is this? Why has democracy fallen into disrepair? And how do we shore up our democracy? No doubt the political science people can bring out tables and statistics to explain. All I can do is reflect on the attitudes of voters across many years of observation at all levels of government.
After the Second World War, Canada saw rapid growth in jobs, incomes and newcomers. There was an excitement then to politics and at all levels there was an expectation by the new and younger people seeking to bring their ideas and energy to the political scene. In Ontario, in particular, there was a surge of fresh thinking and younger people getting involved at the riding and regional level. In the Liberal Party, there was a new energy and a new era was introduced.
The Diefenbaker years in Ottawa had underlined the need for change and the Liberals got ahead of the curve. While Prime Minister Lester Pearson was highly regarded by his party, he represented the old guard. Yet Pearson accepted the changes recommended by the envigored new guard. As a highly skilled diplomat, Pearson recognized that the party could do even more with new thinking in Ottawa. To this end he went around the Liberal establishment in Quebec and brought in new thinkers such as Pierre Trudeau, Jean Marchand and Gerard Pelletier. It was Pierre Trudeau who allied himself with the Liberal thinkers in Toronto and changed Canada forever.
Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry
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