What democracy is, and isn’t, supposed to be about

Doug Ford, Ontario’s Premier of The People. (Photo credit: CHRIS YOUNG / THE CANADIAN PRESS, from September 13th edition of The Toronto Star.)

Mr Ari Goldkind, criminal defence lawyer, opining his ed in The Toronto Star, thinks

Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s plan to invoke the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom’s Section 33, the “notwithstanding clause,” to push through his egregiously vindictive gerrymandering of Toronto’s electoral wards is “what democracy is supposed to be about.”

Mr Ford’s election by The People — and I guess that majority of people in Toronto who didn’t vote for Ford don’t count as The People; we’re just so much pâté on so many libtard-y crackers — trumps any old Superior Court ruling by some appointed judge. And if we don’t like it, we can just take our plush toys and pouty Toronto faces and sit in a corner for four years, until we, The People, and other-we, the pâté who are Not The People, can vote him out.

Hogwash, Mr Goldkind.

What democracy is all about in this country includes appointed judges —

— and incidentally, why is that descriptor “non-elected / appointed” such a sticking point for conservatives, as though elections always produce perfectly competent politicians who perfectly understand their place and their duties, and who perfectly fulfill the mandate from their perfectly informed constituents; whereas the appointed judiciary are self-serving, elite, out of touch fools and “activists”(read, “liberals”) who delight in running roughshod over elected leaders’ tidy, autocratic plans out of sheer malice?

Could it be that politicians don’t always have the public good in mind, but just get a bit tipsy with power and, not having the slightest understanding of procedure, or of anything, really, other than their big-as-their-belly egos, think that the rule of law is but a roadblock, an inconvenience that should be tossed aside, notwithstanding’d? And that we’ve put in place ways to deal with that and to preserve the true functioning of democracy?

No. Forget I ever said anything so cynical.

And your disingenuous argument that there’s plenty of time to rejig the municipal election, into preparations for which Mr Ford has thrown a hand grenade of chaos and spite; and plenty, you assure us, plenty of councilors once City Council is reduced to 25 instead of 47! I mean, who would want more representatives of the people in a democracy when you can have less, for heaven’s sake! — and that everyone in Canada’s largest city is just being snowflakey and whiny — your argument about plenty is so utterly beside the point, yet so revealing, I wonder how you’ve managed all these years, with that tedious legal system you have to work with, the one that doesn’t just let you go, “My client’s innocent! OK? Thanks, guys!”

It must be hell for you.

What, one might ask, is the purpose of an unelected judiciary? For that matter, an unelected Senate? Was this just an oversight, a flaw that no one caught?

I hate to seem like I’m carrying lumps of coals to Santa’s Hideaway, but I guess I, who have but scant expertise in any kind of law except Murphy’s, will now have to explain this to the criminal lawyer. Mister Temerity J. Intrepid, that’s me!

We have these unelected roles, Mr Goldkind, to protect us from the government, and they are able to do this because they are unelected. They can make unpopular but necessary decisions to protect us from governments that seek to curtail our rights. Like, for example, Doug Ford’s government.

(Canada’s appointed Senate, by the way, is termed the “House of Sober Second Thought.” Because sober second thought is deemed to be, you know.

A good thing.)

Premier Ford was duly elected, in — to use an adjective I may had heard once or twice before in the past few days — a “dysfunctional” electoral system that is so bag-of-rocks idiotic that a minority vote can win the prize, but that’s for another day — duly elected, but not by Torontonians, whose map turned orange-for-NDP with dismay, in every single ward except one, at the prospect of Mr Ford as Ontario’s Premier.

“Left-wing downtowners” as Mr Ford has it. More like left-wing down-, up-, mid- and every other direction you can name towners, for Torontonians knew that, in the war between the just-plain-folks ‘burbs and us, we are destined to be outnumbered and out-just-plain’d.

And Mr Ford is out for blood, to avenge his bro for the humiliation he suffered at the hands of Toronto City Council.

There is no question that Mr Ford’s attempted gerrymandering, which purports to fix a non-existent problem of a “dysfunctional” City Council, is conceived in pure, vengeful bad faith and in loathing of we Toronto “elites.”

It is not The People or even Not The People who need to be scolded by you about “democracy.” It is Mr Ford who should understand better what democracy is all about, that democracy is not just ballots cast and that’s the end of it. Democracy includes:

transparency and proper consultation with those affected by proposed legislation, and sufficient time for debating it and voting on it;

respecting the rule of law, by which a judge’s legitimate and informed expert decision about the bill — that it is unconstitutional, a decision echoed in the press by every constitutional scholar with a smartphone and a wireless connection — trumps Mr Ford’s wish to implement it;

not punishing Torontonians by redrawing wards to conveniently “disappear” pesky politicians who don’t back Ford’s agenda, via legislation which was not mentioned during his campaign;

not disrupting near-completed plans for the current municipal election, disruption that has caused the City Clerk to take the unprecedented step of hiring her own lawyer and to warn of an election whose integrity has been seriously compromised; and

which includes the letters, petitions and angry protests and demonstrations by Torontonians of every political affiliation that prompted the court challenge to Bill 5 to begin with.

That’s all democracy, Mr Criminal Defence Lawyer. All of the above, not just ballots in the ballot box, is what democracy is supposed to be about.

Just goes to show: You learn something new every day.



Tell us what you think. Keep it civil, yet interesting.