Friday, April 27, 2012

The Big Lie Reigns Over Us

Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows that the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost
Everybody knows the fight was fixed
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
That's how it goes
Everybody knows
                                                                  Leonard Cohen

When I first started to write this blog, I was inspired by Vaclav Havel's essay, The Power of the Powerless, in which he asserts that we must refuse to live the lie and instead choose to live within the truth.

Yesterday, I learned that the Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear our appeal of the Quebec Court of Appeal's decision not to grant an injunction that would have declared the first-past-the-post voting method unconstitutional because it violates our Charter right to effective representation and our right to meaningful participation in the electoral process.

In short, we argued that effective representation requires effective vote,s and since the first-past-the-post method discards most votes, it violates the Charter's guarantee that each citizen has a right to effective representation.

Our second argument flows from the first.  Because a large number of votes are discarded there is an institutional incentive not to vote for political parties that have little chance of electing a candidate in a particular riding.  This is not the case with the major voting systems in use around the world.  They all have mechanisms that either aggregate votes or voting preferences so that almost all the votes are effective.  The first-past-the-post is the only voting system in use in the developed world that doesn't have such a mechanism.

I can't say that I was surprised by the decision.  After all, if the Supreme Court were to hear our appeal, the judges would have to confront the inconvenient truth that the political system that we inherited from the British is inherently undemocratic.

It is well-known and well-documented that within the Westminster Parliamentary system, a political party will most often form a majority government with less than the majority of votes.  In Canada that now means a majority government with less than 40% of the votes cast and ,once we factor in the low participation rate, less than 25% of the electorate.

Supposedly, the Charter is inspired by the values of a free and democratic society.  Yet, by not granting us leave to appeal, the Supreme Court has dodged the issue with dismissive silence, which is another way of saying that we live in a liberal democracy, meaning in Canada we are free from the constraints that the principles of democracy impose upon a society.

In reality, we live in a liberal oligarchy, which in reality means democracy for the few.

But hey, that's something everybody knows.

Repeat the big lie often enough and you'll have everybody believing it.

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