About Us

Reclaim Our Democratic Canada's Speech to Fair Vote Oakville on January 7, 2012
by Carole Holmes, RODC Founding Member*

Click here for the video.


In 2009 there were grumblings among grassroots women (WHAM feminists) about the large number of women’s programs being defunded, especially research and advocacy. Something was happening, incrementally, quietly. An erosion of women’s rights! The TIPPING POINT was the G-8 maternal health proposal, where all debate was discouraged, yet it resulted in a Canadian policy that denied funding for abortion services in the developing world (it originally included contraceptive services).

Women had a growing suspicion that this ‘covert strategy’ was pushing back women’s rights and hitting hard at groups, like the Status of Women, mandated to uncover and act against inequality. We women had fought long and hard for our rights and we were not about to let them go!


The defunding of KAIROS, interdenominational church groups working on human rights,  and MATCH, a Canadian Aid organization supporting women’s rights in the developing world, was most unsettling. Not just for the defunding but for the way it was done, no consultation, no reason.

However the TIPPING POINT, was the defunding of our own Canadian Court Challenges Program, which advances the rights of minorities.

By 2010, A STARTLING 79 equality-seeking Organizations had been cancelled or defunded. There was a growing concern within church groups doing humanitarian work and many people working in social justice here at home and in developing countries that funding was being used to punish dissenting views and that transparency and accountability was being undermined.

By 2011, 14 civil servants, scientists and watchdogs had been fired or forced to resign...silenced because they were doing their regulatory jobs, but their views were different than the gov’t.  A silencing of dissent unprecedented in Canadian history.

These many examples of critics being silenced, advocacy efforts weakened, and human right organizations disempowered threatens basic democratic values. Yet it caused so little public outcry in Canada.

However, some International groups began noticing Canada retreat from our usual stance as a humanitarian leader for women’s rights, progressive immigration policy, domestic and international human rights.

- 2009 World Economic Forum gender gap index Canada had dropped from 7th to 25th place in 5 years

- 2010 CIDA ‘Aid Transparency Report’ Canada ranked 23 out of 30

Women and men who advocate for the underprivileged here and abroad were joining us in RECLAIMING our right to be heard.


The TIPPING POINT that swelled RODC numbers was the January 2010 Proroguing of Parliament, a blatant disrespect of democratic traditions, the rule of law, the Charter of Rights. When the bully tactics were revealed, people from every political stripe were disgusted.

Yes, some of these tactics had been used by previous gov’ts, but never to this extent! Never with such organized ruthlessness, meanness and effectiveness in closing down debate and silencing dissent.

Twice proroguing parliament, found in contempt of parliament, blocking access to information, using the Senate to block legislation, rigged and stymied committees, ignoring scientific facts (long form census) etc. The ever-expanding list was just too much for many fair minded Canadians.

Almost 500 signed on to our RODC Blogspot. Yes,  some people were concerned about ‘single issues’ child care (National Child Care), environment(Kyoto), aboriginal rights (Kelowna Accord), poverty, immigration ,etc.

However, all were concerned, even fearful, of a new version of Canada as a retrograde and exclusionary country dismissive of parliamentary traditions, regulations and disrespectful of our much envied Charter of Rights.


1. A Movement

2. A grassroots movement

3. that works at the local and National level (via coalitions and networks).

4. We are Multipartisan (reaching out to conservatives to find common ground).

5. We monitor government actions and communicate those actions that undermine democracy and we are learning to use social media (twitter, facebook, Youtube and blogs).

6. We hold forums to share concerns and plan for action.

7. We work with like minded organizations.


We address the erosion of Democracy, the lack of open transparent accountable gov’t and the lack of space for voices of dissent and advocacy.


-We organized public meetings.

-We co-ordinated public demonstrations: Omnibus Crime Bill (Anti-crime bill protest at MP’s office Terrence Young) and at Occupy Toronto.

-We joined other groups with like views: Leadnow, Voices, Occupy Toronto, and Fair Vote Halton.

-We hosted focus meetings with local action groups.

-We established an Action Plan


We remain nimble and quick so we can respond to issues of the day by the use of Ad Hoc committees, such as the anti crime bill initiative led by Susan Berry.


We have subcommittees looking at

1. electing a truly democratic gov’t in 2015, and

2. changing electoral system to make it more democratic.

We are here today (there are several of us in attendance) to tell you a little about RODC. There is much more RODC information on our web site and in the RODC Brochure.)

Also we want to see if there are ways we, RODC and Fair Vote, can work together.


Last April 6th, on the Day for Democracy hosted by RODC, Dan Griffin of Halton Fair Vote gave us serious food for thought: ” People can get elected even when most people vote against them and parties can form a majority even when the majority votes against them.”

RODC agrees with Dan that this is not democratic.


Given the partisan nature of today’s politics (Canada, USA), how can we convince people that politicians’ better angels will prevail and that in a Proportional Representation System (PR), politicians will cooperate?

The fact that PR is more democratic and much fairer than FPTP or a 2-party system is an easy sell!

The real challenge and much more difficult to sell is

-Will PR will give us better gov’t, more effective, more functional, better legislation, and be less divisive and less partisan?

-Will PR ensure that every Canadian has a voice and has a stake in the outcome of gov’t policies?

Herein lies our Challenge!

         Let’s get together and go for it! 

Bev LeFrancois, Helen Brown, Carole Holmes, Renee Sandelowsky, Daniela Jansson, Sherry Ardell, Bonnie Brown, Tina Agrell, Irene Clarke, Lorraine Waugh, Lorraine Green, Judy Henderson, Elka Enola, and Tessa House.

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