April 22, 2013

Political Health in Action

At the beginning of the month, I outlined the three principles of political health, those being citizen participation, social justice, and institutional integrity. Of these three, citizen participation is by far the most important, yet the most neglected.

Too many people in Western society tend to believe our opinions do not matter and/or we do not have much time to be informed of current affairs, let alone take action. These beliefs could not be further from the truth, and I will briefly describe some examples and a few action items on what you can do to improve your political health.

Remember how our soldiers fought for the freedoms we take for granted today, even at the risk of their lives? The same principle applies today, though we are more likely to risk our reputation and our finances than our lives. 

A current example I can point out, even though I may not always agree with their views, is the Québec student movement. Last year, they staged a protest from February to September 2012 and attracted over 300,000 concerned residents in order to successfully reverse the Charest government’s proposed 75% tuition increase over five years to $3,800 per year. While Québec would still have had amongst the lowest tuition fees in Canada even with this increase, the student movement there proved repeatedly they had to fight to keep tuition fees low. The rest of Canada should embrace this example of persistent activism to achieve low tuition fees and/or other relevant objectives.

Even without staging lengthy protests, it is possible to organize sufficient numbers of people to force policy change. OpenMedia got over 500,000 signatures to stop major internet service providers such as Bell and Rogers from forcing usage based billing on independent providers such as TekSavvy. They have also succeeded in February 2013 in stopping the online spying bill C-30. No Casino Toronto is making progress with over 16,000 signatures and already, a majority of councillors (25 out of 45) have publicly committed to opposing a casino in Toronto. With all these good examples, here is what you can do to improve your political health.

1.   Take 30 to 60 minutes a day to inform yourself about current affairs. A similar commitment needed to maintain an active living lifestyle.
2.   Pick two to three issues that concern you and join relevant organizations.
3.   Contact elected officials whenever threats arise that are relevant to your issues.
4.   Participate in rallies and canvassing events hosted by your organizations.

To close off, here is a quote stressing the importance of citizen participation.

Rob Z (e-mail)


No comments:

Post a Comment