A recent petition link left me puzzled.
The link, which I have seen a few times over the past week, was for a change.org petition, asking the House of Commons to remove Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government from power.
“Enough of ‘Justin’s Vision’ for Canada,” the petition read. “Let’s restore sanity with a stable government that represents Canadians coast to coast in a responsible manner.”
The petition was started two months ago by a Chilliwack man. It is now up to around 10,000 signatures.
Three years ago, a similar petition was circulated, this one asking for the removal of Prime Minister Stephen Harper. That petition, started by a Lethbridge, Alberta resident, received more than 1,000 signatures.
I believe in the importance of the democratic process and the value of having a government that represents the people. That’s why I could not, in good conscience, sign either petition.
The most recent petition asks for a government representing Canadians, but the request was launched just four months after voters collectively chose the government now in place.
Anyone unhappy with the outcome of the Oct. 19 federal election should remember outgoing Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s words that evening. “While tonight’s result is certainly not the one we had hoped for, the people are never wrong.”
At the same time, I think it would be a good idea to have a recall process in place at the federal level.
Such legislation would be useful if an individual member had become an embarrassment to his or her constituents, or if a government’s decisions no longer represented the wishes of the voting public.
At the provincial level British Columbia has had recall legislation in place since 1995.
In the late 1990s, Ted White, a Reform MP, brought forward a private member’s bill to establish a similar process at the federal level.
His bill had some limitations, in order to prevent abuse. A recall petition could not be started until a year or more after the member had been elected. If a recall initiative failed, a second initiative for the same politician or party could not be introduced during the same parliamentary term.
White’s recall process and the B.C. recall legislation are methods to be used in the most extreme cases.
The change.org petitions are something else entirely. They are attempts to remove a government because those signing did not like the election results.
This doesn’t line up with the concept of a democratic government.
Democracy lets the public decide who will form the government. And Canada is respected for having a strong democracy.
The Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2015 democracy index ranks Canada seventh out of 136 countries worldwide.
Global Democracy Ranking, at democracyranking.org, placed Canada in 14th place out of 150 countries in 2014.
Other international studies have also ranked Canada’s democratic system as one of the best in the world.
While we have a solid democratic process, I also support efforts to improve and strengthen this process.
But I can’t support efforts to contest or circumvent valid elections, simply because some are unhappy with the results.
Our democratic process deserves more respect than that.
John Arendt is the editor of the Summerland Review.