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democracyDear Editor:

Is Democracy the real victim of the virus or is it a victim of government? That is for you and your elected officials to decide…

As of late Canadians have seen a push from government to do everything on-line. This, unfortunately, includes “public meetings,” which are supposed to be the avenue to allow the voice of the people to be heard by our municipal elected representatives.

In 2015 IPSOS did a poll and found that 1 out of every 10 people do not have home access to the internet. According to this poll it states:

“Those who do not subscribe to the Internet cite motivation (36%), such as not seeing the value or not liking to be on the Internet, …, while 21% cite the lack of opportunity, such as lack of access or inability to afford it, and 18% say it's about capability, such as lacking the skills or knowledge on how to use or fully use the Internet.”[1](1)

Albeit this poll was done in 2015, it’s merely 6 years ago and can be challenged. The fact remains that there are a number of Canadians who do not have internet. So where does that leave democracy?

Democracy is based on the electorate having a voice in their municipality, their province and their country. This is to ensure that there is a balance between what the state wants and what is lawful, justified, equitable, and what is needed for the success of any area.

That said, more and more governments are passing by-laws, legislation, etc., which do not pertain to the pandemic. It seems they are removing their constituents’ rights with “on-line” being the only way to send/receive information.

In this stream I received an email from an Executive Assistant to the CAO of a municipality. “…The format is virtual, however there are options for those that do not have access to the internet or computer to call in via telephone and listen. The meeting will also be recorded and information posted online after the meeting with all the items that were discussed and responses to questions.”

If people don’t have access to computers/internet how are they to know there is a meeting? Same follows with “information posted online.” Now that we are in a pandemic there isn’t any need for Council/staff to be contemplating passing by-laws, which do not pertain to the pandemic, when so many aren’t informed about meetings and/or said by-laws, don’t have access to these meetings, and will not have a voice. Are their views not as important as those who do have access?

Is Democracy the real victim of the virus or is it a victim of government? That is for you and your elected officials to decide…

Elizabeth F. Marshall


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