Opinion Column

Elites trying to take away your vote

By Bill Tieleman, News, Views, and Attitude – 24 hours

“We decide not to have referendums for a good reason — these are bloody complicated issues … It’s anti-democratic.” — Mel Cappe, former Canadian deputy minister, on Brexit


You read that correctly above — giving Canadians a referendum vote on important issues is “anti-democratic.” Our elites think you’re too stupid to make the right decision.

Those Canadian elites don’t want you to ever make decisions through direct democracy — instead they demand that only politicians get to vote. And that, of course, means the party with a parliamentary majority actually decides.

Unfortunately, the elites are even further entrenched in that “we know better than you” attitude by the recent narrow Brexit decision by United Kingdom voters to leave the European Union.

And there is an obvious Canadian example where both the federal Liberal government and most of the country’s elites are in lockstep — denying voters a referendum on which electoral system we will use to choose our governments.

As Democratic Institutions Minister Maryam Monsef disingenuously put it: “So, to reduce this national conversation to a simple ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ is taking a short cut and doing a great disservice to Canadians and to this incredible opportunity we have here to engage Canadians.”

In other words, engage but without giving Canadians a vote. That attitude is condescending, insulting and outrageous.

And 73% of Canadians in a recent poll disagreed with Monsef, saying a referendum is needed.

They understand that the most fundamental, unequivocal heart of a democracy is that voters have the right to be in charge — not the politicians they elect to run government on their behalf.

And on major issues like changing the electoral system, the people must decide through a democratic vote.

The Brexit results may be terrible or tremendous, depending on your point of view, but it is undeniably democratic — and must be respected as such.

With a 72% turnout — far higher than recent Canadian elections — you would think no one could deny the legitimacy of the exercise.

But never underestimate the arrogance of the elites.

Fortunately, it’s still possible to defend the concept that ordinary citizens have every right to have their voices heard on fundamental questions — like changing our federal electoral system.

Don’t let the elites take your vote away.

Bill Tieleman is a former NDP strategist. Read his blog at http://billtieleman.blogspot.com or Email: weststar@telus.net Twitter: @BillTieleman  


Do you agree or disagree with referenda on important issues?