June 14, 1996 Halifax Herald

Democracy was ill-served by BC election result

ITís HAPPENED. The 30 percent range of electors in a Canadian jurisdiction governs! How long before 20 percent?

In British Columbia the shortcomings of Canada's political system has come home to roost. The NDP, with only 39 percent of the popular vote, second to the 42 percent won by the Liberals, retained enough seats in the provincial legislature to form a majority government!

Just imagine: the overwhelming majority of BC electors have rejected the NDP and their policies, but now must suffer several more years of government by the Party they've rejected. Only in countries which use the British parliamentary system, or a copy thereof, is such a travesty of democratic principles possible.

Strangely, though maybe not, as this is Canada, there isn't an outraged public outcry against such an undemocratic event. And, surprisingly, the news media's acceptance of the injustices produced by Canada's archaic political system is nothing short of remarkable.

This acceptance is emphasized by some reporters referring to Premier Glen Clark's win as a "mandate." From where I sit, when a small minority in a general election produces a mandate that a large majority must suffer, there is something seriously out of whack with the system that produced it. The problem deserves to be publicly debated - and solutions found.

Is there be anyone who can make a persuasive case for the continuance of an electoral practice which disenfranchises the majority? We should hear from them. Who knows, perhaps their reasoning can defy logic in a convincing manner.

In my view, democracy is the will of the majority of the electors (50 percent) prevailing in changing governments. When reviewing the British Parliamentary system we suffer, Iíll bet that even the English electors are as sick as we are of the system invented by their long dead ancestors which also, like us, renders them almost politically impotent.

While on the subject of democracy, Quebec's Chief Returning Officer Pierre-F Cote's comments about the allegations of corruption during the Quebec referendum is a good example of reasoning defying logic.

In a nutshell, what he said in his report was this: ďHaving a peaceful public demonstration is a major threat to democracy, whilst ballot tampering is only a minor concern.Ē

In a democracy, there is nothing more sacred than the power of a secret ballot and, if unspoiled, it must be counted. And, unquestionably, the right to free assembly comes a close second to the ballot as a strategic democratic principle to be meticulously safeguarded.

IF THE Politicians in this country were ever to take seriously their responsibilities, they could learn a lot from this simple statement made by Thomas Jefferson in 1820:

"I know of no safer depository of the ultimate powers of society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion."

On the other side of the coin we the citizens might take some notice of this statement by Dorothy Hannah, Lacolle, Que.

"Don't let the politician give you the "mushroom" treatment, i.e. keep you in the dark and feed you horse sh..!" (Both the Jefferson and Hannah quotes were taken from the May issue of Dialogue)

IN ISRAEL, the hard-line politicians have won the election. With this occurrence, the whole peace process in the Middle East seems to have reversed.

During their recent election, the Palestinians embraced the peace process by an overwhelming margin.

The Israelis, marching to the dictates of Arab and Israeli terrorists, have elected individuals who seem to be more interested in making a land grab in the West Bank than peace.

Letís hope, for the sake of peace, that Israeli Prime Minister-elect Netanyahu can temper the more provocative demands of his political allies and continue the Labour government's peace process.

IN SASKATOON, a serial killer who hates and preys upon Native women, was given a life sentence for murdering three in 1992. It was his second conviction for committing cardinal crimes against natives.

The first time he beat to death a native woman in an alley in Lethbridge, Alta, receiving only 10 years for manslaughter.

Then, without once expressing remorse for his hideous crime, he was released on parole in 1989 after serving only 6 years.

The leniency shown towards killers of natives in the 1990s is sort of reminiscent of the 1700s when it was considered laudable in British society to kill them. Perhaps this time society will decide to demonstrate that it takes seriously the slaughter of Natives and keeps the offender, John Martin Crawford, locked up until hell freezes over.

A closing note. Many are getting excited about next years 500th Anniversary of John Cabot's arrival in the Americas. This invasion by Europeans of North America caused much hardship for the Continent's Native Peoples.

Letís hope that good conscience will dictate that some thought will be given during the celebrations to the thousands of Native Peoples who died as a result of Cabot's landing - in particular Newfoundland's Beothuk who became extinct!

Daniel N. Paul


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