Did I vote today? Heck no!

No, I did not vote today. Instead, I voted days ago at an advance poll. I am so desperate for  change that I could not wait. In Celtic Lightning, I identify Democracy as one of Canada’s five foundational values, and show how it took hold in this country thanks to such figures as Robert Burns, Daniel O’Connell, John A. Macdonald, and Thomas D’Arcy McGee. The Democracy section of the book begins as follows . . .

In October 2014, Canadians were
outraged by the cowardly, cold-blooded murder of a soldier standing on
ceremonial duty in Ottawa. We were angry that the gunman had then been able to
race into the House of Parliament and wound several guards before dying in a
hail of bullets. We were glad that this hateful fanatic was cut down before he
could do any more damage. And the next day, we felt proud when our elected
representatives returned to Parliament Hill and, after a brief but emotional
display of solidarity, went back to work. Canadian democracy was alive and

Less than one month later, an Ontario
judge sent a former Conservative Party staffer to jail for violating the Canada
Elections Act. Michael Sona got nine months for “an affront to the electoral
process.” He was convicted in the “robocalls” scandal for preventing or trying
to prevent electors from voting. Twenty-two years old at the time, Sona sent
out 6,700 automated phone calls with misleading information about how to vote.

The judge described this as “a
deliberate and considered course of criminal conduct designed to subvert the
inherent fairness of the electoral process.” The federal election was not “some
Grade 8 election campaign for student council,” he said, but was held “to elect
representatives who form the governing body of our nation.” The bottom line
message? To Canadians, the democratic process could not be more dear.

Canada’s parliamentary variation, in
which the prime minister is responsible to the legislature, derives from the
Westminster model of Great Britain. The same is true of the way we conduct
elections: first-past-the-post, winner-take-all. This voting system frequently creates
governments that a majority of Canadians do not want, which is why we should
probably introduce a measure of proportional representation. But to abandon the
egalitarian principle of democracy, one citizen one vote — for Canadians, that
is unthinkable. Democracy is so deeply rooted in Canada as to be inseparable
from this country’s existence. . . .

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