Democracy under attack

I remember a political rally for then Premier of Ontario Frank Miller. He had come to Fort Frances to win re-election for the Progressive Conservatives. The rally was at the Rainy Lake Hotel and a crowd demonstrated in front of the hotel opposing the party’s re-election. Miller had succeeded Bill Davis.

It was a very excited crowd that filled Scott Street that day. Miller did make his comments to party faithful inside the hotel and attempted to shake hands and mingle with the crowd before he was whisked away.

The memory flooded back to me as I watched as the federal Liberal leader prevented from addressing voters in Cambridge. The angry mob of 100 that prevented Justin Trudeau from speaking about the party’s ideas on climate change, housing and other Liberal platform issues raise important questions for Canadians.

What are the rules for disagreeing with political leaders and party platforms?

Elections are about ideas, plans for the country addressing issues on topics of universal healthcare, homelessness, climate change, infrastructures, deficits, sovereignty and much more. Each lays out their road map on the issues that they feel are important to move the health and welfare of Canadians forward. Each party chooses to emphasize what are the most important issues for Canadians. Some of the issues are common amongst all four national parties.

The solutions and party platforms will differ on how those common issues will be tackled in governance. While governing, all parties will be challenged with the unexpected. And when that occurs, the governing party must make new, difficult decisions without any precedents.

Over the past 20 months the federal parties and all the provincial parties have had to take drastic steps to protect the health of Canadians in this pandemic. It was never expected. Governments had to restrict freedoms of Canadians and mandated social distancing, becoming isolated and wearing face masks. When vaccines became available, governments went to great lengths to encourage all Canadians to become vaccinated.

For a portion of the population these measures were unpopular, and today making vaccination passports necessary to attend crowded indoor venues, to travel on planes and trains, and even to be able to go into some restaurants, seems like a greater infringement of freedoms.

But does that give permission to prevent politicians from meeting with citizens? None of the crude, rude behaviour Canadians witnessed in Cambridge should be tolerated. It weakens our democracy because it interferes with our democratic process. Discussion, dissent, debate is welcome in Canada.

Former Publisher
Fort Frances Times

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