June 18th, 2024

We need to safeguard democracy

By Lethbridge Herald on July 15, 2021.

It is beginning to feel like life is returning to some semblance of normal again – albeit a new “normal” where we are all going to have to rethink our approach to life.
We have turned several corners, and there is no going back. If the COVID-19 pandemic (which is not over yet, by the way) has taught us anything, it is how fragile the social systems we have constructed our way of life around are.
First lesson: we have to start living more sustainably. The vast emptiness of our city landscapes witnessed at the height of the pandemic last year, even as wild animals roamed our streets in some instances, testifies to the fact human activity is too busy, too energy-consuming and too sprawling. We need to start focusing on creating a smaller footprint for human society and a less intensive future not only for the sake of Mother Earth, but also for human sanity.
Second lesson: public health is a must – not a budgetary inconvenience. Governments around the world learned this lesson the hard way in many instances last year as the pandemic ran rampant, with far more fatal results, through countries with insufficient public healthcare infrastructure.
Efficiency is one thing, but if a government does not have the capacity to respond to future public health emergencies then the “cost” to that society will be far greater than any investment of public dollars outlayed as part of the normal budgetary process.
It’s a lesson hopefully Alberta, in particular, learned as the UCP seeks to privatize more aspects of public health care. Whatever changes are made must ensure there is capacity for any possible future pandemics or public health emergencies. Seeing the mass graves put down in some U.S. cities last year where the system failed so egregiously is a sobering reminder of what happens when a medical care system puts profit before people. Let’s make sure Alberta never goes there.
Third lesson: we have to start appreciating democracy for the miracle it is, and recommit ourselves to its processes. We have seen nominally democratic nations around the world moving to an increasing fascist beat over the past five years. Most frighteningly, our neighbours to the south have begun to lose perspective on this issue under an increasingly bipartisan conflict which, shockingly, saw a defeated U.S. president seek to cling to power by the use of mob violence instead of ensuring a peaceful transition to a new administration as all his successors have done in the past.
Thankfully, American democracy proved resilient and the institutions put in place to safeguard democracy functioned as they were supposed to amid the crisis; barely.
We are not immune in Canada, and in the increasingly bipartisan landscape of Alberta politics we should keep the troubles south of the border strongly in mind as a precautionary tale about keeping decorum and respecting the function of democracy as the two polarizing parties here throw political vitriol and rhetoric at each other.
Democracy allows every eligible citizen to vote and have a say in who they want to govern them.
As we head into local election season this fall, and potentially a federal election season as well, please exercise this right and do your part to help safeguard democracy in Canada and around the world.

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Les Elford

Very , very well said! Kudo’s to whom ever wrote this. So important!


Generally a good editorial, but then you “mushed out” into both-sidesism at the end.
Events in the U.S. definitely sound a warning of the fragility of democracy, but it is too soon to declare that the institutions prevailed. Not when Republicans continue to use every trick in the book, from bold-faced lies to filibusters to voter supression, to regain power even though they have only minority support, and meanwhile to block any legislation supported by the majority of voters.
In Alberta, to say our politics is increasing “bipartisan” is surely a mistake. You mean “partisan”, as bipartisan would mean cooperation for the common good, which is definitely not happening. In Alberta and Canadian politics, it is just not true to say that both sides are throwing “political vitriol and rhetoric” at each other. The stoking of anger, the politics of fear, is overwhelmingly coming from the right wing. As in the U.S., conservative politicians know the only way they can cling to power (in Alberta) or have any hope to regain it (federally and in our cities) is to punch those hot button and rile up the voters. There can be some sharp answers from the left, to be sure, but your paper should acknowledge that far and away the greater source of vitriol and the stoking of partisan division is on the right.


excellent reply.


some concerns i hold with regard to the points expressed in the letter are: 1) over the last 4 decades we have generally not returned not to new “normals,” but instead have come to accept new abnormals. many of these abnormals have undermined the very cores of democracy, not least of which have been the increasing “right” to privacy/secrecy of govt and big corp, and the loss of the right to privacy for democracy’s citizens. 2) as for the concern about sustainability – never can capitalism be sustainable: it is about greed and the celebration of stuff as the epitomes of success. what we have is a toxic quagmire, from nefarious mining and manufacturing practices, to the laying to waste of healthy habitats and ecosystems, to the incredible loss of diversity/life forms, to the piling up of immense burial mounds of rubbish, let alone the poisons that have been dumped in our oceans.

Last edited 2 years ago by biff

actually we do not have a democracy. all we have is a vintage of democracy by having an election which is prostituted by party politics to the point that we have an elected autocracy for 4 years only if the party in power calls it.

Les Elford

Politicians; Part of the Solution or Part of the Problem? 

A friend of the family sent this, which I think is brilliant and warrants real attention. Most have heard of Warren Buffett and provide him an immense amount of admiration and respect due to his; real, historical, tangible, objective; skill, ability and results.  

 “I could end the deficit in 5 minutes,” he told CNBC. “You just pass a law that says that anytime there is a deficit of more than 3% of GDP, all sitting members of Congress are ineligible for re-election. The 26th amendment (granting the right to vote for 18 year-olds) took only 3 months & 8 days to be ratified! Why? Simple! The people demanded it. That was in 1971…before computers, e-mail, cell phones, etc. Of the 27 amendments to the Constitution, seven (7) took 1 year or less to become the law of the land…all because of public pressure.”

“Warren Buffet is asking each addressee to forward this email to a minimum of twenty people on their address list; in turn ask each of those to do likewise.

Let’s adjust this for Canada”

*”Parliamentary Reform Act” 

  1. “No Tenure / No Pension. A Member of Parliament collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they are out of office. 
  2. Members of Parliament (past, present & future) participate in the Canadian Pension Plan. All funds in the Parliamentary retirement fund move to the CPP system immediately. All future funds flow into the CPP system, and Parliament participates with the Canadian people. It may not be used for any other purpose. 
  3. Members of Parliament can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Canadians do. 
  4. Members of Parliament will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Parliamentary pay will rise by the lower of CPI 3%.
  5. Members of Parliament must equally abide by all laws they impose on the Canadian people. 
  6. All contracts with past and present Members of Parliament are void effective immediately. The Canadian people did not make this contract with Members of Parliament. Members of Parliament made all these contracts for themselves. Serving in Parliament is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their term’s, then go home and back to work.

It appears we may be forced into another federal election soon. If every Canadian demanded the candidate’s campaign be focused on the above; rather than how much each political party will give away to those who pledge their allegiance and vote for them. Some would call this bribery. 

If each person contacted a minimum of twenty people then it will only take three days for most people (in Canada) to receive the message” and perhaps real change, real parliamentary reform could take place and the power could be returned to its rightful place with the people. “Maybe it is time. 

Maybe I am missing something but the statement from UCP Minister Nixon, Alberta moving forward on two new plans to maintain river water quality” BY THE CANADIAN PRESS ON JUNE 22, 2021. does not instill any confidence, only more confusion.

Similarly the late night approval of Bill C-10 in the HOC, along with the recent CRTC reversal to decrease telecommunication fees, the unresolved long term horrific and tragic ongoing sexual abuse within the Canadian Armed Forces of males and females. The Indigenous, file, the unresolved missing and abused Indigenous women file, the lack of support for the senior and disabled population, confusion over COVID messaging. The outstanding unresolved and ignored issues go on ad nauseum. 

If there is an upcoming federal and provincial election. Every candidate should make a promise to abide by the above principles. If nothing else each candidate could be asked their position on the above, which may be quite telling about their character. I wish there was a box on the ballot form that said “None of the Above” until the above Parliamentary reforms were adopted.


This is one idea that really should be passed around.THIS IS HOW YOU FIX PARLIAMENT!!!!!” It would be interesting if a poll were done to see how many people agree.

Thank you for your time and attention.

Les Elford


there is a lot of merit to the entry, les – thanks.
i do find it ironic that we get a weigh in from buffet, as he is an epitome of what is very wrong with our approach to life. i am making assumptions in that: he is very likely to have offshore accounts; he is very likely to be taking full advantage of the sickening tax privileges conferred upon the ultra wealthy, (that same group that effectively writes the tax laws to their extreme advantage); he is foremost greedy and self serving, whose focus is accumulation (yeah, “charitable”, with self at the center) to the extent that it is illness.
the destructive effect of greed on our planet is too much an untold story.

Les Elford

Biff I am having computer problems.