Democracy? What democracy?

Is Alberta a democracy? Albertans would be shocked at the suggestion that they do not live in a democracy, but that is precisely what I am suggesting.

Is Alberta a democracy?

Albertans would be shocked at the suggestion that they do not live in a democracy, but that is precisely what I am suggesting.

It is not sufficient to have a democratic constitution as Alberta has. Democracy must be practised by government and the people. The German Weimar Republic had constitutional government and Hitler was lawfully elected. Once there, however, he abused the system and made himself a dictator. In Germany, from 1933 to 1945, Hitler ruled dictatorially because the majority of the people supported him. In Alberta, totalitarianism has become an accepted practice of rule. Whilst not to the same degree as in Hitler’s Germany, the government of Alberta has become dictatorial nevertheless.

For the parliamentary system we have presently in place in Canada to work, there must be a government and a government in waiting, namely, the opposition. The last time we had a worthwhile opposition party in Alberta was when Lougheed overturned the Social Credit government in 1970.

The fault lies entirely with the voting public who either do not care or those who do feel there is no point to it as nobody but the Conservatives can win.

Only 41 per cent voted in the last election.

The result, government by Conservative caucus. As government whips make sure that all Conservative MLAs vote as directed, the power is in the sole hands of the leader of the party and particularly, the premier.

Failure not to conform has serious consequences as is evident by the experience of the MLA of Fort McMurray (Guy Boutilier) who was kicked out of the caucus. (He merely wanted a promised retirement home for his constituents).

He cannot run for re-election as a Conservative even if nominated by his riding for the legislature as the party leader has the power to quash the nomination.

Even the officer duly appointed by the legislature to regulate provincial elections was dismissed for pointing out irregularities in the last provincial election.

Of course, it was done by a committee of the legislature. Seven out of 10 members of the committee were Conservatives who had to vote as directed or their demise would have been very quick. It is quite clear that those involved in the Conservative government of Alberta must toe the line or their political careers will come to a swift conclusion.

Does Alberta have democratic government? The answer is “No” and the fault lies with its citizens for accepting the status quo as they could remedy the situation if there was a political will to do so simply by voting for an opposition. A strong opposition makes a government accountable to the people.

Herbert Fielding

Red Deer

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