1.1 – What is Democracy

Democracy is a system of governance which floats between the extreme anarchist rejection of all government and the dictatorship of one supreme ruler.
Representative (indirect) Democracy is a system of government in which people elect professional politicians to legislate laws and execute the administration of government.
Participatory (direct) Democracy is a legislative system where everyone is a legislator, and where people elect executive ministers to govern, not to legislate laws.

1.2 – Inclusion

Participatory, Athenian democracy which excluded women, slaves and foreigners, has gradually evolved into a representative democracy.
From 1848 – Universal male suffrage in France,
to 1915 – women’s suffrage in Denmark,
to 1918 – UK & Canadian women’s right to vote,
to 1920 – American women’s right to vote.

However, today’s universal inclusion of all citizens is limited to electing representatives only, not to voters deciding on policies.
1.3 – Origins of Representative Democracy.

The current representative democracy is a concession derived from the monarchies of Great Britain and Sweden in the 18th century. At that time in history, democracy was improved by shifting some ruling power from the monarchs to elected political representatives.

However, this monarchic concession of legislative and executive power, to a few political representatives, also inherited the hierarchical power to influence the selecting of representative and the rules of governance. Political power was kept in the hands of a few well-sponsored representatives.

Noam Chomsky alerted us of a similar political flaw by saying: “The most effective way to restrict democracy is to transfer decision making from the public arena to unaccountable institutions: kings and princes priestly castes, military juntas, party dictatorships, or modern corporations.”

1.4 – Term of Office

On Election Day, under the system of representative democracy, we the people endorse our policy decision-making authority, to a political representative, for a period of time known as a “term of office.”

Because the “Term of office” restricts citizens from making any political decision other than electing a representative, every three or four years, the term of office, in fact, creates a temporary dictatorship of representatives.

This temporary dictatorship of representatives inherently de-generates into political abuse, which generates public frustration, and ultimately people’s apathy and cynicism.

1.5 – Separation of Powers.

We have inherited from Ancient Greece and the Roman Republic, the system of governance called “trias politica”, identifying the three political powers: Legislative, Executive, and Judicial.

While the “separation of powers”, for checks and balances, has been the choice of republics like the USA, the “blending of powers”, or bundling the three powers in one, has been the choice of parliamentary-monarchies, like Canada.

This “blending of powers” concentrates almost unaccountable political authority into the hands of the Federal Prime Minister of Canada and on the Provincial Premiers, and their appointed Cabinet Ministers.

Additionally, this small group of cabinet ministers are empowered to appoint court judges to form judicial authority.

Potentially, monarchic parliaments which blend powers, and centralize political power in the hands of a few representatives, become prone to fascism or plutocracy disguised as democracy.

1.6 – Media Influencing Democracy

Information is an indispensable factor in democracy because public opinion and decision-making come from the information available to ordinary people.

Media can be used as an effective tool for factual information, but it can also be abused as a tool for misguided propaganda.

Commercial media, owned and operated by a small but wealthy elite, can advertise and sponsor propaganda supporting their political views.

State-funded media can also be coerced by the sponsoring regime to justify its policies.

Noam Chomsky explains this conundrum on his book, Manufacturing Consent.

1.7 – Money Influencing Democracy

Economic interests, hiring advertising experts to manipulate public opinion, have historically entrenched their narrative as reality. They have created an enemy syndrome, a charade where good people are being victimized by an enemy; therefore, they propagate, it is a democratic responsibility to defend the perceived victims from the perceived aggressors.

For example, the “weapons of mass destruction” propaganda that was used in 2002 by U.S. politicians to invade and occupy Iraq in 2003 which, in the name of democracy, instigated public support to attack and destroy the perceived enemy, Saddam Hoisin.

This phenomenon is best explained by Greg Palast in his book “The Best Democracy Money Can Buy”.

1.8 – Democracy by Majority Rule.

Majority Rule is constituted by a conventional agreement. Sometimes majority has no predetermined threshold, as in “First Past The Post”, where a candidate, or an issue, with the highest number of votes wins.

At other times, a simple majority of 50% + one carries the motion. But, on issues deemed very important, a “Super-majority Rule” of two-thirds, three-quarters, or more is required to carry the motion.

Complementary to majority rule, political decisions generally consider the legality of the question within the UN Declaration of Human Rights and Liberties for minorities.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau
1712 – 1778 advocated the use of supermajority voting on important decisions when he said, “The more the deliberations are important and serious, the more the opinion that carries should approach unanimity.”

1.9 – One final precautionary word about the label democracy, is that, similar to religious labels, the name democracy has been co-opted by dictators to exert repressive authority; it has also been misused as a political excuse to occupy other countries, and to overthrow foreign governments.

Having looked at several global perspectives and component of democracy, let’s review the current Canadian political ideologies and system of governance.