What is democracy? There are probably as many explanations of what democracy is as there are politicians, political science students, professors, pundits and just plain "know it alls". Since entering politics some 12 years ago I have heard may different versions of what democracy means. I must admit some stretched the imagination.
Cornwall - April 24, 2012 - What is democracy? There are probably as many explanations of what democracy is as there are politicians, political science students, professors, pundits and just plain "know it alls". Since entering politics some 12 years ago I have heard may different versions of what democracy means. I must admit some stretched the imagination.
However the very best explanation I ever heard came from my Grade five teacher, Sister Gregory. She explained that democracy was "for the people, by the people and responsible to the people". If you give that statement some serious thought, I think you will agree it summarizes just about everything one needs to know about democracy.
Let's analyse this statement.
"For the people": To me this means that a truly democratic government is there to serve the people who elected it. It is meant to carry out the wishes of the majority of the constituents it serves. The political party elected as the government should carry out the platform it ran on and deliver the promises it made to the electorate during its election campaign. At times there may be circumstances that prevent them from carrying out everything included in their platform, but to the greatest extent possible they should deliver on the mandate given to them by the electorate.
"By the people": To me this means that in an election campaign the general population exercises their democratic right by voting for the individual they want to represent them in Parliament. In our parliamentary system the party that elects the most Members of Parliament is given the right and the obligation to form a government. If any party elects more than 50% of the seats in the House of Commons (current total seats in the House of Commons is 308) they form a majority government.
"Responsible to the people": In my mind this means that each and every constituent is the elected MP’s employer. When a constituent votes they are essentially hiring someone to carry their views to Ottawa. Every Member of Parliament works directly for the constituents of the riding they represent. The taxpayer is the person who pays their wages and ultimately is his/her boss. An MP does not only represent those who voted for him/her. They are there to serve every constituent equally, those who voted for them, those who voted against them and those who did not bother to vote. When voting on legislation presented to Parliament, a MP must vote according to the wishes of the majority of their constituents, not their own.
In my case being responsible to the people means carry the collective message of the residents of Stormont, Dundas and South Glengarry to Ottawa, a responsibility and an honour I treasure.
Member of Parliament
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