Yo and welcome to the first blog post of the year. If you’ve noticed my two month long hiatus, have no fear, I’ve returned. We’ve started a truly epic project all about Canadian politics. If you’ve set foot in Canada recently I’m sure you’ve seen the endless political signs lining the road, these are for our federal election that we are currently in the middle of. Not only is there a federal election but my class is also running the schools student vote, so we are knee-deep in politics right now. However my big question for the post is “What is the most important democratic principle?” And instead of painstakingly explaining the democratic principles to you, there is an excellent video here explaining the principles.
The Canadian government is a parliamentary democracy as well as a constitutional monarchy, and to me it seems like a deceptively simple system compared to other systems like the electoral college. But if you need a quick little refresher on the Canadian government check out this video (here). However one of the big ideas we learned about in class was democratic principles, and how they hold up democratic society. And separately I made a video talking to people about the principles they think are most important.
Despite all of those different opinions on the democratic principles. I strongly believe that there is one principle that carries the weight of democracy more then the rest, this principle is Citizen Participation. I think Citizen participation is the most important thing when making a democracy function, it was also mentioned 3/7 times in the interviews I did making it the most mentioned principle. The entire purpose of democracy is that the country should be ruled by the people, and without people who actively participate there is no democracy. In our the student vote guide on the principles of democracy, citizen participation is said to be more than just a right but a responsibility. To participate in democracy you must vote in elections, be an informed Citizen, debate issues, pay taxes, protest, and even serve on a jury. Citizen participation is key and ensuring the other democratic principles are upheld by the government. Without active and involved citizens there is no one to protest and stand up for human rights, there is no one to vote in fair and free elections, there’s no need for politicians to be accountable and transparent, And laws can enforced disproportionately. In Canada we have a constitution that protects our rights and freedoms, but without citizens who care and participate, there’s no need for the government to follow said constitution or remain fair and equal.
If you look at voter Turn out in the last two federal elections from elections Canada you’ll see the percentage is around 68% of eligible Canadians voting, this is considerably lower than it was in the 70s and 80s. And with things like the Internet it is far easier today to access information and be more informed on the election, despite that voter turn out is still lower. And even more interestingly around my age group the youngest allowed to vote 18 to 24 have the lowest voter turn out of all with 53.9% turnout in 2019. I am so incredibly lucky To live in a democratic country where my rights are protected and I have the opportunity to participate in democracy. Currently I pay a small amount of taxes, I attend school, I stay informed, and I do things like the student vote so that one day I can go out and participate in my democracy and vote as an adult, like my whole generation should do once the time comes.
Graphics from Student Vote and Elections Canada.
Even in our textbook, in chapter 1 on the Canadian government, the opening idea about democracy is that many people take it for granted. Living in Canada people expect their rights to be protected without them doing anything. Which is not the case in many other parts of the world currently like Afghanistan, or North Korea, where many peoples rights are disregarded every day. Despite the opportunities many people in Canada do not participate, and unfortunately a democracy cannot run unless citizens participate. Not just voting for your MPs and Prime Minister, but also protesting, reading the news, and even just having opinions on how the governments running, keeps people participating and upholding our democratic society. Without it the other democratic principles would slowly fail, or become completely unimportant. In the end I circle back to the word democracy which is a Greek word meaning ruled by the people, and without people caring enough to rule, there is no democracy.
Thanks as always,
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