Elites and power
Michael Bell is right that elections are seen – “in the Arab world” – as an opportunity for elites to take and consolidate power (No Democracy Without Democrats – Aug. 16). That thinking is not restricted to the Arab world.
In U.S., which believes itself qualified to export democracy by force to other countries, it is legal for moneyed elites and lobbies to spend vast amounts to influence elections. In Canada, our Conservative government terminated per-vote subsidies to rely exclusively on donations, heavily subsidized by taxpayers, to benefit the Conservatives over others.
Alex Carey’s insight applies worldwide, but more to Western countries: “The 20th century has been characterized by three developments of great political importance: the growth of democracy, the growth of corporate power, and the growth of corporate propaganda as a means of protecting corporate power against democracy.”
It is corporate propaganda that made our government curtail public hearing on pipelines, prompting articles such as Tzeporah Berman’s: We Have A Right To Be Heard In The Pipeline Debate (Aug. 16).
Masud Sheikh, Oakville, Ont.
There is such a thing as “illiberal” democracy, perhaps not in academia, but in the real world (Majority Tyranny – letters, Aug. 15). Having taken centuries to establish functioning liberal democracies, we have this arrogant assumption that the only relevant ingredient is multiparty elections. The evidence says otherwise.
Western democracy is not a standalone concept. After a few centuries of struggle, it has worked for us in conjunction with capitalism, some socialism, and education. At its worst, it is a highly imperfect process of governing, based upon popularity and whoever tells us the lie we want to hear.
It is the best system we have found, but is also flawed – and may yet be our downfall.
Darryl Squires, Ottawa
Re Gibraltar Spat Involves Unlikely Allies (Aug. 12): British sovereignty of the Falkland Islands dates to 1765: Although Britain did not establish a permanent presence until 1833, it formally protested at sporadic Argentine attempts to assert sovereignty.
In 1833, it asked a recently established Argentine garrison to leave, which it did without loss of life on either side. Britain has administered the Islands peacefully ever since, apart from the few months in 1982 when Argentina illegally occupied them. Argentina’s refusal to comply with the binding UN Security Council resolution to withdraw meant that the U.K. had no choice but to use force to remove Argentine troops.
Falkland Islanders want to stay British; 99.8 per cent of them voted that way in the March, 2013, referendum.
The U.K. has pledged to defend their right of self-determination, as we have with Gibraltar. This right is enshrined in the UN Charter; it is only right in the 21st century that the inhabitants of both territories decide their own futures.
The article asserts that Gibraltar is a tax haven. In fact, as a financial services centre within the European Union, Gibraltar complies with EU Directives and Regulations for financial services, taxation and money laundering.
Howard Drake, British High Commissioner
Industry Minister James Moore says Canadians benefited by foreign competition when Hondas, Toyotas, BMWs and Audis were permitted into Canada (Ottawa Goes Cross-Country To Defend Its Wireless Strategy – Aug. 16). Perhaps then Mr. Moore can explain why these vehicles cost more here than in the U.S.
While Mr. Moore is explaining the government’s wireless strategy, will he also assure us that Verizon, or any other U.S. service provider, will be prevented from sharing personal information from their Canadian wireless network with the U.S. government?
Ed Bodi, Oakville, Ont.
I wish the telecom-haters would turn down the volume a bit to look at the issues logically. I am no fan of the Big Three. They all could do a lot more to improve service and pricing. But anyone who thinks it is okay that a large, profitable company should have the advantages that were clearly designed for start-ups, including piggybacking on infrastructure and bidding on spectrum, is not thinking straight. Unfair is unfair, even when you hate the victim.
Ken Duff, Vankleek Hill, Ont.
Confusing rate plans, contract extensions if you want to make even a minor change, over-the-top pricing for pay-as-you-go plans and zip interest in servicing your account once you’ve signed with them – that’s my experience with wireless providers in Canada. Competition? Bring it on.
Sheryl Anderson, Gatineau, Que.
Rather than bringing discredit and disrepute to the Senate through making partisan appointments, the Prime Minister should appoint those who will provide valuable, sober second thought.
I want an appointed Senate. I want those people who would never stand for election but who have huge talents to serve this country by reviewing in a non-partisan way our legislation.
I want the Roméo Daillaires, the Nancy Green-Raines, the former Eugene Forseys. The country needs them. Maybe appointments need to come from the ranks of the Order of Canada.
The Prime Minister should be encouraged to do what he did with the appointment of the Governor-General: Create an august small group to advise him.
We all need some sober second thoughts about the Senate, instead of the the hysteria that is being whipped up.
Kathleen Glynn-Morris, West Vancouver
Re Why Dudes Are Still Paying For Dates (Life & Arts, Aug. 16): On a blustery night in Ottawa, after a pleasant dinner party with friends, I stood outside with one of the guests, a virtual stranger. We agreed to meet for coffee and eventually settled on supper.
I suggested we go Dutch. He didn’t argue. We both owned Tivoli Audio radios – mild reassurance, I thought, of a reasonable evening ahead.
I expected we would dine at a modest but engaging place. The spot was rather small, in one of Ottawa’s nearly avant-garde west-end neighbourhoods.
My escort wrangled a table by a window and quickly engaged the young server. Their repartee was amusing, however, I like talking, too.
The courses kept coming and the banter with the waiter got smarter. Time passed and the bill arrived. I told my date I brought $80. I gave it to him, but he still didn’t produce the bill. The finishing stroke was yet to come.
I was halfway across the room on my way out the door, when my date told me to go back to the table and leave a loonie or two.
I paused and did what I was told. Anything to get home before the fuel tank might empty.
Julia Elliott, Ottawa