Is Democracy Still Right?
Note: The following blog post is an opinion piece authored by an Edmonton-based member of the Global Shapers Community. This blog post does not necessarily represent the opinions, values, or mandates of the Global Shapers Community as a whole.
In a world filled increasingly with partisan politics, foreign election meddling, and claims of fake news and media favouritism, there is a debate to be had on the health of our democratic processes.
I would argue that a lot of the more recent risks in the political processes in western nations have been the result of the internet, or at the very least have been magnified by the internet. With online access being treated as close to a utility as it has ever been and programs designed to wrap the last remaining pockets of our planet within the sphere of unlimited information, the web is seemingly as important to human productivity as electricity and water in the 21st century.
With the instantaneous availability of information and ability to connect with almost anyone else through your social media medium of choice, this has created active clusters of like-minded individuals that focus their attention on common views. Through machine-learning algorithms and targeted marketing by agencies and private corporations, these common views permeate through every nook of an individual’s internet interface. Short of using someone else’s device to find things, we are all trapped in an extreme form of groupthink, especially when considering politics.
How do we combat these narrow lines of sight?
On Thursday, October 10th, Global Shapers Edmonton co-hosted a forum for the Edmonton Centre federal riding with the Oliver Community League at the Matrix Hotel, with standing room only, and livestreamed to all those that could not be there in person. In an event that one might think should be a given for every riding across the country each election, attendees included concerned local residents, individuals with businesses that generate revenue from the community and citizens from other ridings that just wanted to know how candidates represented their local constituents’ best interests. Between heads of grey hair were students that have never voted before, and everyone in between.
The forum had a full range of participation from Randy Boissonnault of the Liberal Party, James Cumming of the Conservative Party, Donovan Eckstrom of the Rhinocerous Party, Paul Hookam of the People’s Party, Peggy Morton of the Marxist-Leninist Party, Grad Murray of the Green Party, and Katherine Swampy of the New Democratic Party. It was a rare stage of a diverse set of candidates answering questions that focused on key issues from both organizers and attendees, each with equal opportunity to respond uninterrupted.
Sponsorship and support came from local community-focused organizations including the Downtown Edmonton Community League, Queen Mary Park Community League, Downtown Business Association, Kaden Ave Communications, and Apathy is Boring.
I felt people sitting closely to one another in the packed venue. I saw applause from the same people for more than one candidate’s response. I heard people claiming they were undecided, and all of that gave me a renewed confidence that we, as citizens, can still make truly democratic decisions. And all it took was a good old-fashioned physical room full of people and their candidates to talk with and listen to one another.
Get informed, and let your voice be heard this Canadian federal election. Early voting at your designated polling station can be done through October 14th, or any Elections Canada office before October 15th at 6:00 pm. Official election day is October 21st, at your assigned polling station.
- Nicholas Menon, Global Shapers Community Edmonton Hub
Dated October 12, 2019