12/18/2011 06:34 EST | Updated 02/17/2012 05:12 EST

Hope Still for Grassroots Democracy

As Canadians, we have been told that both our democracy and civil society have become weaker over the past few decades and that Canadian voters have become apathetic and disinterested.

We have been told that young people in particular have turned away from conventional politics and that the bonds of trust between citizen and government have come undone.

Well, I am pleased to report that last week we saw a glimmer of hope for our democratic future. We saw the mobilization of tens of thousands of Canadians who came together in a dramatic display of engagement and concern for their country in response to Conservative Members of Parliament passing bill C-10, the omnibus crime bill now before the Senate.

This impressive display of democracy was organized by Leadnow, an independent community organization that brings Canadians together to promote democracy, strengthen communities, advance social justice, and extend economic opportunity.

Leadnow is open to people from every region of the country, and offers them the opportunity to help form the Canada they want. It encourages Canadians to debate the issues, evaluate the evidence, and then work together to create change by getting their ideas on the political agenda.

They organized thousands of Canadians opposed to bill C-10 and encouraged them to make their voices heard by writing to Senators in their respective provinces and asking them to rise above partisan politics, look at the evidence, and make Canada a "safer, not meaner country."

Over 22,000 Canadians have responded and my office alone has received email letters opposing this bill from over 9000 Ontario residents.

I applaud Leadnow and their supporters for their determination to stand up for their country. As Abraham Lincoln said "To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men." I encourage Leadnow and its supporters to keep up the fight. Every time one person stands up for what they believe in, others are given the courage to speak up as well.