People come to Canada from all corners of the world for reasons most of us as born and raised Canadians would find hard to imagine. Whether it’s to escape poverty, oppression or to improve quality of life, Canada provides a balance of rights and freedoms that are protected by its citizens through the right we have to democracy.
It’s hard to believe that only 11.3% of the world’s population have what is considered to be “Full Democracy” and 37.2% of people worldwide have what is considered “Flawed Democracy.” Incredibly that leaves 51.5% of all people living under governments that do not allow any form of democracy that we, from time to time, take for granted. As Albertans we are blessed to be included in the 11.3% that have the liberty to choose our own representation.
Thankfully for most of us, the thought of living under a system where you have your leadership selected for you, is unfathomable. Sadly, in this modern day and age, for 88.7% of the people on earth a lack of democracy, is their daily reality.
Recently, the Drumheller Filipino Community inducted their newly elected President Cris Indozo, and their community council for 2014. These people came from a country half way around the world, whose governments in the past have been destroyed by corruption and cronyism, and elections that have often been marred by fraud and vote buying.
The enthusiasm with which the Filipino community in Drumheller celebrated the induction of their representatives gives an appreciation for how important this right truly is, especially to those that have had to do without it.
The duty to stay vigilant and protect democracy, even in a Full Democracy, falls to the beneficiary that fortunately includes all of us in Canada. Without vigilance, inevitably, a mentality that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the democratic rights you possess tries to take hold; that mentality is socialism.
Nineteenth-century French author and political thinker Alexis de Tocqueville, who was best known for his work Democracy in America, has a quote that describes how subtle changes can erode democracy. “Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word, equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude.”
More than 118,000 Canadians since Confederation in 1867, made the ultimate sacrifice while serving our country. Their sacrifices have protected our citizens from servitude while preserving our rights and freedoms. These are things a mere tenth of the world’s population is able to enjoy. They come from far and wide, they come for freedom, and they come for democracy.
The right to democracy is yet another manifestation of a property right that can be measured in terms of sacrifice. The sacrifice happens by defending it and it comes with a duty that can only be fulfilled by participation in it.
Rick Strankman is the MLA for Drumheller-Stettler.
— From the Legislature