Carol's Speech

By Carol Brayman, Oakville ON
Good evening everyone. It’s so good to see you here.
What specifically has brought us together?  We care about democracy.
AS we sit here, thousands all over the world are risking prison or putting their lives on the line fighting for democracy. Thousands look to Canada as a model of democracy.

Our own Government of Canada website states that Canada’s Parliament...  continues to be a vibrant example of democracy in action. In Parliament, our representatives examine the top issues of the day, decide on policies and laws, and hold the government accountable for its actions.
Until recently that has been an apt description, but there is evidence that our caring and open society and that our democracy are at risk.
Last summer when RODC was founded, it was because we had witnessed:
The proroguing of parliament – twice before the business of our elected representatives was finished

     The repeated obstructing of access to information requests

Citizens rights arbitrarily being limited during the G-20 summit in Toronto
the unilateral cancelling of Canada’s Long Form census.

Many of us kept hoping that those were blips.  But since last summer things have eroded even more.

In response, RODC now has almost 400 supporters and is still growing. Groups across the country share our concerns.
The visible disrespect for our parliamentary traditions regulations and the rule of law - the cornerstones of our democracy- has continued as evidenced by:
The deterioration of debate in parliament and public discourse
The ignoring of Parliamentary Review Committee recommendations
The punishing or firing of ombudsmen and other officials who disagree with those in power   

The arbitrary proposal to hand over the parliamentary review of our National Health Care system to an unelected and partisan Senate
      The misuse of the Senate to stall legislation that parliament has already passed, (e.g. Bill C-393)

And the Denying of funding to equality-seeking organizations created to protect the most powerless and vulnerable in our society.

For the first time in Canadian history the government and a minister have been found in contempt of Parliament for withholding information and misleading the House.
Does this sound like our Canada? NO!

So citizens need to talk openly about what can be done. As Ronald Wright( A Short History of Progress)  says---"Democracies are rare in history; they are easily hijacked... and lost by neglect..."

We can no longer neglect ours.

What do we want?  We want:

A Transparent, Open and Accountable Government:

Our policies and laws must be based on identified needs, sound data, scientific evidence, and on what is best for all Canadians.

Because Freedom of Information and the Right to privacy are fundamental to a healthy democracy, all citizens must have access to information, without political interference.

Our Charter of Rights and Freedom is much-envied.
Its precepts must be reflected in all government decisions and actions.

Respect must be given to Voices of Dissent and Advocacy: We want all citizens to feel safe presenting opposing views and organizations able to advocate for their clients without fear of retribution.*
We have members who are afraid to have their names listed on our blog site because their companies have government contracts.  
We want true freedom of speech to be respected.

We can monitor government actions and speak out about those that undermine democracy
We can demand honesty and civil discourse from the parliamentarians who we elect
We can continue to participate in online or face to face forums.
We can also insist on alternatives to the disruptive behaviour and concealment that has too often rendered our parliament ineffective;
And most important, we can vote.  Ah there’s the rub!
 Why did  fewer than 60% of Canadians vote in our last election? Many felt powerless, that their vote didn’t matter. That’s not right in a democracy.
We need to convince our fellow citizens that their carefully decided votes matter and that on May 2nd 
“We should all take 20 minutes out of our day and do what people round the world are dying to do.   VOTE”
It matters – for as a supporter wrote:
“...democracy the only system which accords full humanity to each individual in the world.” 1

On behalf of Reclaim Our Democratic Canada, thank you for being here and thank you caring about our democracy.


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