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The Case For Transforming Canadian Democracy

10/26/2015 05:19 EDT | Updated 10/26/2016 05:12 EDT
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Looking back at the past couple of years it is hard not be happy to see Stephen Harper gone. His rule increasingly became more autocratic, muzzling any opposition within his own party and any institutions that his influence and power reached. At the end all that was left of the Conservative party was a reflection of Mr. Harper, an image that became increasingly smeared by his divisive tactics and strategies to cling to power. His approach to power and politics, embodied all that was wrong with Canada.

A vibrant democracy requires strong parties with clear and strong philosophical and ideological base coupled with able politicians willing to bring forth new ideas and challenge the status quo. Clash of ideas nourishes roots of democracy. On the other hand politics that revolve around "personalities" rather than "ideas" will degrade the public discourse to the level of tabloid and gossip columns.

Alas thanks to timid strategists and sophisticated PR industry, it is much easier to manufacture a tailored personalty according to public taste than to forge a transformative platform that challenges the establishment. Increasingly all political parties in Canada have become more conservative, in the sense that they shy truly transformative and progressive plans. Our politicians and elites have set the bar too low, to grab votes and cling to power as long as possible.

Some argue that people's response to politics has increasingly become reactionary. The worst enemy of democracy is ignorance and mediocrity, that is when people don't care about who governs them as as long as garbage is collected, paycheques arrive and winter vacation somewhere warm is not disturbed; to such people election is just a ritual, to pretend they are still part of a democratic and free world.

Change is not just the replacement of party in power, it is often said that Canadian's prefer to be governed from the middle; however leaders who brought real change never governed from the middle. Real change involves a change of attitude toward power and politics, politics is not just the means of attaining and maintaining power, it is the art and science of managing and transforming the society. It is fair to say that we can not expect real change until we, as citizens, are willing to reevaluate our perspective and expectations from politics and politicians.

The goal of political parties should not be limited to merely representing "existing" views, but to challenge and transform the public discourse. History provides prime example of such figures; in our own Canada, we have likes of Sir John Alexander Macdonald , Tommy Douglas and Pierre Trudeau, among many others. Act of governance should not be mistaken with riding the popular wave. Those bestowed with the power to lead us should continuously challenge the views and ideas that position us in the world. To do so, politicians need the company of philosophers, intellectuals and artists rather than image management consultants and PR strategists.

If last century was epitomized by politicians who redrew, defended or challenged geographical boundaries, this century will be remembered by those who transform the ideas and values of their nation and redefine the concept of citizenry, away from passive and habitual rituals and toward innovative and active engagement. Canada needs a serious jolt, we need to expand the possibility frontier of our nation in every respect, away from living of the proceeds of our natural resource, toward relying on our ideas and innovations. Doing so require courage, determination and ability to execute; it is the risk we cannot afford not to take. As Socrates said: "The unexamined life is not worth living".

Justin Trudeau; now its your turn, we are watching you.

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