On September 20, Canadians will elect a new national parliament and, if the currently governing party does not get enough votes, the country may also get a new executive.
But the country still will not have democracy because democracy means “government by the people”; it should be that, but it is not.
In Canada, like in the US, in France, in the UK, in Germany, in Australia, in Japan and in all other representative democracies, the people do not govern at all, what the people do is elect those who will govern them.
They elect their rulers, the people who rule over them. They elect the people who have been telling Canadians, decade after decade, how they must live their lives and how they will be punished if they do not comply.
Even when Canadians do not have to obey a rule or a law, the politicians put in place policies and programmes that practically force people to behave the way the politicians want.
They do that with policies that will cost Canadians money if they do not take advantage of them, or that will give them money if they do.
The politicians decide everything; if Canadian soldiers will go to war and die, even if the majority of Canadians do not want the country to go to war or to war zone conflicts in Afghanistan, in Irak, in Lebanon, in Somalia… or in the Kalahari.
Politicians also decide how strong the Canadian Armed Forces should be, how many taxes Canadians pay, how the school system and universities will cost students and taxpayers, and on and on.
I say the politicians decide because all politicians, at least those who sit in the Federal Parliament in Ottawa, participate in the control of Canadians; the parties in the opposition shout and scream against the party in government because “it does not govern for the people but for its friends”, “that the health care system needs more doctors, that the waiting lines are too long”, “that the Federal Bureaucracy is too slow or too opaque”, “that Canadians have too expensive telephone and Internet services”, that “taxes are too high”, or “that taxes are too low”, “that the national deficit and the national debt are too large”, that “workers are treated unfairly” and on and on. But if the opposition wins they continue to control the lives of Canadians and the present and future of the country, just like the previous government did, and none of the above issues is resolved.
No matter who governs. Canadians have no power to stop the politicians to pass any law or policy they want to pass or have passed. Canadians elect who rules and those who rule, rule over Canadians. They rule because once they vote, for four years, the Canadian people have zero control over the politicians.
In reality, Canadian elections are to decide which party or parties will have a blank check between elections to do anything they want, to even “forget” electoral promises, or to do things they never said they would do, and even to do the opposite of what they promised.
Election after election. Canada has a shortage of doctors. It has half as many doctors per person as Switzerland, the country with the best (no perfect) health care system.
Election after election Canadians continue to pay outrageous prices for Internet and telephone services.
Election after election Canadian students attend universities and colleges en masse, yet Canada has a chronic shortage of competent employees and has people with degrees doing jobs for which the degree does not qualify them.
Canadian elections are about “vote, elect, forget and hope for the best”.
Democracy should not be about that, it is not about that, democracy is about elections and about the people deciding issues, not just the politicians.
Canadians should be able to decide issues. They should be able to put to a national referendum any law, regulation or policy. They should also have the power to put to a national referendum any article of the Constitution.
They should be able to do all that, even against the will of the politicians, even if all the politicians unanimously disagree with having a referendum.
The referendums should also be relatively easy to get going; for example, by the collection of approximately 400 000 signatures in one year, or perhaps much sooner if electronic sign up became fool proof.
The results of the referendums would also be mandatory for Government and Parliament, and the Canadian Supreme Court would no longer have the power to overturn any law or decision made by the people by declaring the results “unconstitutional”. The Court will only have the power to decide if the rules were not followed in the collection of signatures or in the way the referendum was conducted.
Canada is a stable representative democracy, but it will be a better democracy when the people, besides voting to elect, they can also vote to decide any law, rule, regulation or policy that 400 000 Canadians say they disagree with, and if they also can change the Constitution itself.
I have no doubt direct democracy is the future of representative democracy, like it was for Swiss representative democracy almost 2 centuries ago.
The Swiss people demanded direct democracy as a result of a pandemic… They have not looked back, although some of their politicians long for the times when the politicians were only accountable at election time, the time when the people could not stop the laws and policies they passed.
And this is the real problem in Canada for direct democracy; the politicians, and the lobbies and pressure groups of the Right and the Left, do not like direct democracy because it is a lot easier to influence and pressure a few politicians than millions of voters.
If you want better and more efficient democracy, in Canada,- and everywhere else, push for direct democracy now.