One of the most quotable U.S. Presidents in history was their 16th and arguably greatest ever, Abraham Lincoln. One of his most iconic quotes came during what is known as the Gettysburg Address which he delivered as the American Civil War turned in favor of Union forces.
“That this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
Quoted by leaders worldwide, this nugget of political genius has become an iconic endorsement of liberty and democracy that has transcended the borders of the United States into the consciousness of populations across the free world.
In recent years, Albertans have seen a substantial erosion of democratic decision-making by our Legislators. Policies have been imposed on Albertans at the hands of a long succession of majority governments that chose their own priorities and direction over the will of the people. Case in point in Alberta: the Carbon Tax.
Prior to the 2015 Provincial election, the current Alberta government under Rachel Notley did not inform Albertans the NDP intention to impose a tax on all fossil fuel usage in the form of a carbon tax. Consequently, if Albertans did not know that this was the NDP intention as a government, how could their votes deliver either consent or a mandate to impose the tax?
Time and again majority governments justify their actions by making claims that they have a mandate from the people, for hidden agendas at election time.
Here’s the fundamental flaw in that massive deception. First, as voters, we know that new governing parties do not put all of their intentions as a government on the table before elections. Second, we know that global and national economic, social and environmental conditions can change citizens’ priorities long before the expiration of any government’s four-year term, demanding that majority governments consult regularly and conscientiously with the people. The net result demonstrates that majority governments do not have the democratic authority to follow their own objectives and direction without the continuous input and direction from citizens and voters. When that model replaces our old majority government traditions, Albertans will have a true government “for the people.”
Somewhere along the way governments in Canada have lost their way. Today, those governments replace the will of the people with their own priorities to win and retain governing power. “Grassroots democracy” have become buzzwords used to bait voters to attract support. Then, the words are quickly dismissed by old parties—and new parties—as they approach elections.
Abraham Lincoln understood that government which respects the on-going and consistent democratic rights of people would seek and carry out the will of those people, first and foremost. In order to enable and empower government of the people, by the people and for the people, government must be continuously accountable to the people, between elections.