I took a little overnighter to Victoria, BC with my wife, Joan, our 12 year-old daughter and her friend. The weather was glorious, the sun making a rare appearance. Being relative novices to the ferry, we were excited to be on it, and we really enjoyed the journey to the Island. Victoria is a lovely city, full of history and charm. Our spirits were high.
The hotel I had booked is right across the street from the legislature building, so for a short cut to get to the Royal BC Museum, we crossed through the legislature grounds. I recalled the two times I had been on the lawn protesting government laws, one of which has been renounced as “unconstitutional” by the Supreme Court, the other being weighed in the courts. The memory made me smile a bit, as I recalled some of the people I was with, and our passion.
After a visit to the museum and a late lunch, we returned to the hotel for a rest. We didn’t go back outside again until after dark. At night the legislature is framed in white lights, looking quite pristine. I wanted to say something philosophical about how beautiful the building was, and how it represents a beautiful ideal, being the very place where our democracy is enacted. I wanted to be proud of our democratic process in which very polarized political views can find a place for civil debate.
I said something, but my words felt hollow. Considering the behaviour of so many of our high profile politicians, I could not feel proud of our democracy. Our present government has been cited ten times by the International Labour Organization for violations of the rights of workers. The same government has passed laws that have violated our own constitution, and it has been implicated in many public scandals, some criminal. It has used every form of manipulation, including paid-for advertising, to convince the public of the viability of its policy, and to establish its partisan brand, rather than simply release its policy to the press and let the public debate on its merit. It has been behaving in a decidedly un-democratic way.
It was just a moment on a peaceful stroll at night. The pride I feel for my country is rooted in its adherence to the ideals of democracy. Our ancestors went to war for them, shed blood for them. It’s hard to clearly express the thought that darkened my sentiment. It was like an out-of-tune instrument in a symphony.