Sunday, November 21, 2010

Democracy Doctors

There will always be folks who observe the death of democracy in our time.

Today, our coroners are Marge Atwood and some corners of the Toronto Star.  For them, this is not the result of a killer microbe, poor lifestyle or sudden accident: the death of democracy is ruled a homicide.

And in this murder mystery, the butler happens to be Prime Minister Stephen Harper.  His weapon has been the tools and rules of parliamentary democracy.  Death by doing, they exclaim.

To be fair, when opposition types get hysteric, a natural place to go is the charge of totalitarianism.  In a former life, Tarkwell Robotico has indulged.  Remember the late 1990s and early 2000s?  Everyone thought that what happened after Jean Chretien's long tenure would be a Paul Martin tenure.  We all thought Martin was a juggernaut and his tenure would be longer than Chretiens.  Democracy was dying: we were sliding into a happy one-party state.  It wasn't Chretien or Martin's fault.  The opposition wasn't able to put together a respectable challenge to the Liberal colossus.

Atwood and the Star people were as hogs in muck during those days - the days they painted the country in thick coats of red, red paint.  So when they checked democracy's breathing and took its pulse, they declared the patient ready for a marathon. 

And Tarkwell is equally flipped on the issue: my read is democracy hasn't been better in a long while.  We say partisanship is especially bitter these days, but that's a normal stress of minority government.  Otherwise, our government runs along a generally concessionary course. 

So.  Taking the pulse of our democracy will tell us nothing about the health of our democracy.  Instead, it is something worse than the uncertainty principle of quantum physics: it only tells us something about the person measuring the pulse.  If you think democracy is dying, it is because you are losing the democratic struggle.  That's all it tells us. 

And yup, I sure do think I'll declare democracy on death's door one day.  When I do, I hope you smile and remember this.


  1. None of these "savants" will state the obvious; maybe The Star's Richard Gwyn knows, but he's not tellin'.

    We are not ruled from hereabouts.

    Figureheads for foreign interests.

    Less so with Harper.

    But the Manchurian candidate is beginning to scare me.

  2. Buck up.

    Starting with John Cabot, who first discovered Danny William country, Canada been around for 500 years...That's longer than most societies today. Canada has a secret. Maybe a lesson.