Anti-democratic & racist sentiments have reared their ugly head in Canada. A new survey finds 1/3rd of Canadians don’t believe foreign-born citizens should have the same rights as those born here. This number soars in some rural areas.
The survey called The State of Democracy and Appeal to Populism was commissioned by Simon Fraser University's Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue. Executive Director Shauna Sylvester pointedly asks: "what kind of a democracy is it where citizens are not equal?"
Democracy is founded on the principle that all citizens are equal before the law and should be afforded equal opportunity, rights and treatment.
Two years ago, a similar survey showed that 1/3rd of Canadians would prefer an alternative to democracy, including military rule. Today, that number is 25%.
Interestingly, it is people over 65 & foreign born Canadians who are the most supportive of democracy - those who are more likely to know the horrors of state tyranny and injustice.
Only 10% of Canadians strongly agree that Canada is governed democratically. This points to a larger question: if our country is not being governed democratically (in a way that represents and serves the well-being of all) whose interests are coming ahead of the interests of "ordinary people"? Is it large corporations? Is it financial institutions?
DEMOCRACY IS AN ETHOS, A SPIRIT
Scapegoating each other is not the answer. Being more civic-minded, more informed, more engaged and a more courageous citizen is.
Democratic institutions are inhabited by individuals - citizens like you and me. If we lack the vision, the courage, and the character to treat others as we wish to be treated, to stand against injustice wherever we encounter it, to sacrifice for causes greater than our own narrow self interest, then we will not be able to ensure these institutions serve the interests of the people -- all the people, that is.
If your local democracy or the politics in your workplace or community is characterized by a culture of my gang vs. your gang, might vs. right, and us vs. them, then the anti-democratic seeds have been sown.
Democracy is all about fostering a community spirit that seeks the well-being of all and social unity on the things we hold dear, like the equality of rights and freedom of all citizens.
If our democratic institutions are perverted to serve powerful interests over those of the people generally, then that is our collective failure to inhabit these institutions as we should.
Voting is only the beginning. Question anywhere in society, whether it be in the workplace, your neighbourbood association, your trade union or in political parties where critical thinking or concerns about truth, justice, or inclusion are not welcome.
For those that feel Canada is simply not big enough for us all, reflect for a moment on the enormous size of our country and the relatively modest size of our population. How is it that we cannot find a way to govern and manage our material, natural and human resources in a way that meets the basic needs of all people, without scapegoating some citizens?
Without fostering this democratic ethos, the one that says we are committed to treat eachother as we wish to be treated, our democratic institutions will continue to atrophy and the slide into further division, animosity and authoritarianism.
Democracy is an earned privileged. Let's make ourselves worthy.
Links to related articles & resources:
[Vancouver Sun] - Poll shows many Canadians disconnected from democracy, vulnerable to populism (August 26, 2019)
[Radio Interview] The Ryan Jespersen Show: Distrust in Democracy? What Canadians think about our current democratic state (August 28, 2019)
[Book] Save Your City: How Toxic Culture Kills Community & What To Do About It (Municipal World, 2019)