Dec. 21, 2012 on the Mayan calendar was not the end of the world as we know it, but perhaps a beginning of a new awareness of what individuals working together can do.
Started by two First Nations women two months ago, the social movement Idle No More has gathered almost daily media attention. It seeks not only to engage the federal government in respectful discussions with aboriginal people, but also to focus on wider issues like democracy and the environment. Much of its recent focus has been on the hunger strike of Chief Theresa Spence, who has asked for a meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
In his book, the Leaderless Revolution, Ross Carne remarks that citizens in modern democracies have given their power to elected officials, who make daily decisions of their behalf with no or very little consultation with the people they represent.
Bill C45 passed in December with no consultation, as far as I am aware, with the very citizens who voted in the Conservative government, or for that matter, with the majority of people who voted for other parties instead.
The speed with which the 457-page document passed into legislation was breathtaking. Bill C45 includes two omnibus budget bills, legislation that affects traditional land agreements with First Nations peoples, the amendment of the Protection of Waterways Act and several other significant and impactful pieces of legislation. A CBC news report suggests Bill C45 amends 64 acts or regulations.
It strikes me that no government that seriously believes it is a democracy would usher through this amount of legislation in such a short time. A government that would do this, I suggest, would be more concerned with its own partisan agenda, rushing it through, so no one could digest or appraise it. Such a government would not be concerned with representing the views of its citizens. To argue this is the way a democracy works is to cynically trample the wishes of an electorate without asking the basic question: who do governments really serve.
The question Ross Carne raises is a good one. Who do governments really represent? The citizens who voted for them and therefore the wishes of the citizens or do they often represent themselves, using the power given them, for their own agendas.
Ide No More is a citizen movement that recognizes how distant governments can become from its people.