Citizens’ Vision in Discord with Governments’ Policies.
4.1 – Dissatisfaction with our governments’ agenda, and protesting against government policies will continue to happen, as long as we continue to subordinate, or give away, our decision making power to political representatives. Perpetual Direct Democracy as proposed in Chapter Five, is a possible solution. In this chapter we highlight a few instances where governments are clearly marching to a different tune than the peoples’ aspirations.
4.2 – There is a lingering question in the minds of many Canadians since the 1988 Free Trade Agreement, FTA, was discussed. This decision, was probably not the choice of the majority of Canadians, but it was legally the choice of the political party with the most representatives. January 1, 1994 the North American Free Trade Agreement – NAFTA, came into force, superseding FTA. Again, this controversial agreement was mandated without meaningful information, public discussion, or approval by the people. A referendum on such important issues, might legitimize the agreements, or require their cancelation.
Currently, government and business representatives are discussing the North American Security and Prosperity Partnership, NASPP, and the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, CETA, between Canada and the European Union. These negotiations between political and business representatives exclude citizens’ opinions and concerns. These negotiations lack transparency, public discussion, and approval of the people by referendum.
4.3 – Military Interventions into foreign countries are serious life and death issue, yet only a few executive ministers and a few political representatives are authorized, by us, to decide against the wish of most of us. Since 2001, year after year the polls have shown public rejection to the Canadian military intervention in Afghanistan. According to an Angus Reid poll – February 2011, 63% of Canadians oppose the war in Afghanistan. Yet we have been there for about ten years. An official referendum on foreign military interventions would harmonize the people’s intentions with the government agenda.
4.4 – The diplomatic, trade, and aid policies, of our current government, may not be consistent with the will of the majority of Canadians. The government’s unconditional support for some foreign governments is constantly being questioned by human rights and peace activists. Religious prejudices, ethnic preferences, or the economic investment and trade advantages to Canadian businesses at the expense of less advantaged countries might not be the ethical priority to most Canadians. After carefully observing our Canadian Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, we would benefit by having a referendum on all issues of foreign policy.
4.5 – Bank of Canada.
Since 1986, the Committee on Monetary and Economic Reform, COMER, has been advocating for the Bank of Canada to assume its original mandate of lending money to all levels of government. Comer.org and Paul Hellyer, former Defence Minister and founder of the Canadian Action Party of Canada, claimed that the $60 billion in yearly interest on all levels of government debts combined, paid to private financiers, could instead finance an optimal health care system, public education, and social housing for all Canadians.
The Bank of Canada, apparently being subverted by the for-profit financial system, needs to be reviewed, understood, and its mandate to lend money to all levels of government should be put to a referendum by all citizens.
4.6 – Health Care System.
Most Canadians and the BC Health Coalition believe that Health Care is a right – everyone must have the right to high quality, responsive and appropriate health care which is publicly funded, publicly accountable and publicly controlled.” Yet, federal and provincial governments have been eroding the public health care system, making it vulnerable to privatization. This is an obvious disconnect between the elites’ wants and people’s needs.
4.7 – Education System.
The United Public Education, UPE, a non-partisan coalition of student unions, teacher associations and other groups who represent every level of education in BC, Canada, raises awareness about the chronic underfunding of the public education system. Governments blame the lack of economic resources to a natural scarcity, rather than collecting the fair share of taxes from those who can afford. A public discussion about how we should collect taxes to pay for education, and a public decision via referendum, would settle the issue.
4.8 – Social Housing.
The federal and provincial governments in Canada developed legislation in the 1970s providing financing for Social Housing through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, CHMC. However, political will dissipated in the 1990s, the governments reduced the funds available for the mortgages, and eliminated the start up funding for cooperatives.
A significant number of citizens, who pay more than 50% of their income on shelter, would welcome a public discussion and referendum about social housing.
4.9 – Department of Defence of Canada
Conservative reports of the National Defence Budget, currently decided by very few politicians, shows an increase from $15 billion in 2006 to $20 billion in 2011. Meanwhile, health care and education costs are being gradually shifted from general revenues to individuals as fees-per-service. Such ideological budget shifts should be clearly explained, publicly discussed, and universally decided by referendum.
This list of political issues illustrates and confirms the imminent need to shift from being governed by a few politicians, as we do under Representative Democracy, to all citizens becoming the legislative government, as it would be under “Perpetual Direct Democracy”, PDD. In the next chapter we will look at the current system of governance, and an alternative system.