'Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.'
Sir Winston Churchill, Hansard, November 11, 1947
British politician (1874 - 1965)
Wise words from a wise man who earned his knowledge through war and peace. Many times since those words were spoken have democracies been challenged, and in just as many cases she has prevailed. It is indeed a comment on our human nature - that we are less than perfect although we persist in the search of perfection. Those of us in Newfoundland and Labrador are getting our lesson in democracy, and it's rough edges, right now.
On the 24th of January, 2011, my son's 14th birthday, I will be presenting my appeal to the Rules Committee in St. John's of the Credentials Committee's decision to reject my candidacy for Leader of the PC Party. While there are many grounds submitted for the appeal, I believe the most important to be the unconstitutional interpretation of membership.
The Purpose, Aims, Objects section of the Constitution clearly states: ' i) to provide for democratic procedures and practices to effect the purpose, aims and objectives of the Party.' Two other parts of this section state: 'e) to elect a Leader of the Party; and (f) to provide for a nominating process for the selection of candidates for election as progressive Conservative members of the House of Assembly.' In other words,
democratic processes and practices must be used to elect the Leader, and nominate the candidates seeking to be MHAs. It does not speak of a dual status of membership. In fact, all memberships, and processes to get memberships, must be done in a democratic fashion. The basis for any definition of democracy is equality of the person. That despite your wealth and influence, or a lack of it, your vote shall have the same effect and influence as all others. There is no caste system in Canadian democracy.
It is an established fact that the District Association nomination meetings allow any interested resident of that area to vote for the candidate of their choice - with the proviso that they support the aims and principles of the Party. It is also an established fact that their membership is instantaneous upon their declaration of support, and that no other steps for membership are required.While this process may be considered open to manipulation, it is also the best guarantee of citizen influence on our democratic process. People simply are normally not that interested in politics, unfortunately, but should they feel their input is required, a process is in place to do that. It is a check on absolute power, and a wise process for any party that wants to stay in touch with the people. It also allows the Party to evolve politically as the people do.
If equality of the person is the foundation that democracy was built on, and if democratic procedures and practices must be followed in accordance with our Constitution, then the membership requirement for nominating leadership candidates must be the same as those requirements in place to nominate candidates for Members of the House of Assembly. To do otherwise would be a contravention of the aims and principles of the Party - an observance of which is necessary for membership.
As if to almost enforce this belief, the Candidate's Entitlement section of the Constitution states that a candidate is only entitled to a list of District Association members, ex-officio delegates, Executive members and the like once they have been accredited. The logical implication of this being that the signatures of endorsement by these people must not be required for nomination. If they were required it would constitute a violation of the principles and aims of the Party in that only people with extensive knowledge of the membership would be able to participate, thus ruling out any others - undemocratic in other words. It would be akin to not giving out voters lists until after the election.
There are clearly many contradictions in the Constitution. However, the one requirement, reinforced over and over again, is the necessity of recognizing the principles and aims. It is clearly the most dominant portion of the Constitution which all other sections are subordinate to. It is my belief that it was written that way to safeguard the democratic rights of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador - the membership at large.
de·moc·ra·cy /dɪˈmɒkrəsi/ Show Spelled[dih-mok-ruh-see] Show IPA
1.government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system.
2.a state having such a form of government: The United States and Canada are democracies.
3.a state of society characterized by formal equality of rights and privileges.
4.political or social equality; democratic spirit.
5.the common people of a community as distinguished from any privileged class; the common people with respect to their political power.
Thank -you to all those people who have shown your support, whether in person or in action.
Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the
round pegs in the square holes... the ones who see things differently -- they're
not fond of rules... You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify
them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change
things... they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the
crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that
they can change the world, are the ones who do.
US computer engineer & industrialist (1955 - 2011)