Showing posts with label politic. Show all posts
Showing posts with label politic. Show all posts

Monday, April 04, 2011

What is Democracy?

email post
Democracy is a form of government in which all citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal (and more or less direct) participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law. It can also encompass social, economic and cultural conditions that enable the free and equal practice of political self-determination. The term comes from the Greek: δημοκρατία – (dēmokratía) "rule of the people", which was coined from δῆμος (dêmos) "people" and κράτος (Kratos) "power", in the middle of the 5th-4th century BC to denote the political systems then existing in some Greek city-states, notably Athens following a popular uprising in 508 BC.

According to some theories of democracy, popular sovereignty is the founding principle of such a system. However, the democratic principle has also been expressed as "the freedom to call something into being which did not exist before, which was not given… and which therefore, strictly speaking, could not be known."This type of freedom, which is connected to human "natality," or the capacity to begin anew, sees democracy as "not only a political system… [but] an ideal, an aspiration, really, intimately connected to and dependent upon a picture of what it is to be human—of what it is a human should be to be fully human."
While there is no specific, universally accepted definition of 'democracy', equality and freedom have both been identified as important characteristics of democracy since ancient times. These principles are reflected in all citizens being equal before the law and having equal access to legislative processes. For example, in a representative democracy, every vote has equal weight, no unreasonable restrictions can apply to anyone seeking to become a representative, and the freedom of its citizens is secured by legitimized rights and liberties which are generally protected by a constitution.
There are several varieties of democracy, some of which provide better representation and more freedom for their citizens than others. However, if any democracy is not structured so as to prohibit the government from excluding the people from the legislative process, or any branch of government from altering the separation of powers in its own favor, then a branch of the system can accumulate too much power and destroy the democracy. Representative Democracy, Consensus Democracy, and Deliberative Democracy are all major examples of attempts at a form of government that is both practical and responsive to the needs and desires of citizens.
Many people use the term "democracy" as shorthand for liberal democracy, which may include elements such as political pluralism; equality before the law; the right to petition elected officials for redress of grievances; due process; civil liberties; human rights; and elements of civil society outside the government. In the United States, separation of powers is often cited as a central attribute, but in other countries, such as the United Kingdom, the dominant principle is that of parliamentary sovereignty (though in practice judicial independence is generally maintained). In other cases, "democracy" is used to mean direct democracy. Though the term "democracy" is typically used in the context of a political state, the principles are applicable to private organizations and other groups as well.
Majority rule is often listed as a characteristic of democracy. However, it is also possible for a minority to be oppressed by a "tyranny of the majority" in the absence of governmental or constitutional protections of individual and/or group rights. An essential part of an "ideal" representative democracy is competitive elections that are fair both substantively and procedurally. Furthermore, freedom of political expression, freedom of speech, and freedom of the press are considered to be essential, so that citizens are adequately informed and able to vote according to their own best interests as they see them. It has also been suggested that a basic feature of democracy is the capacity of individuals to participate freely and fully in the life of their society.
Democracy has its formal origins in Ancient Greece, but democratic practices are evident in earlier societies including Mesopotamia, Phoenicia and India.Other cultures since Greece have significantly contributed to the evolution of democracy such as Ancient Rome, Europe,[20] and North and South America. The concept of representative democracy arose largely from ideas and institutions that developed during the European Middle Ages and the Age of Enlightenment and in the American and French Revolutions.Democracy has been called the "last form of government" and has spread considerably across the globe. The right to vote has been expanded in many jurisdictions over time from relatively narrow groups (such as wealthy men of a particular ethnic group), with New Zealand the first nation to grant universal suffrage for all its citizens in 1893.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Help Ontario Greens Protect Greenbelt Land

email post

Dear Green Friends:

On Friday we received an email from Green Party of Ontario Leader Mike Schreiner, asking for our help to protect agriculturally and environmentally sensitive Greenbelt land from a proposed gas powered peaker plant.

Thanks to intense community pressure, the Ontario government scrapped plans for a gas-fired power plant in Oakville. Now, more than ever, Ontario Greens need our help to keep up the pressure and ensure the Holland Marsh remains protected.

Please take a moment to read Mike's message below, and sign their petition.

Thank you in advance for your support on this critical issue!

Last week, the Minister of Energy admitted that the government's projections for energy consumption in southwestern Ontario were overly dramatic.

Citizens of Oakville won a victory in their battle to stand up for what is right in their community. Through their efforts, they forced the government to listen and the province announced yesterday that it is scrapping plans to build a gas-fired power plant in Oakville.

This is just the beginning! Now it is time for the Liberal government to halt construction of the ill-conceived gas plant in the Holland Marsh. In the same way the site of the Oakville gas plant made no sense, it is clearly wrong to build a gas plant in on this site, on an active flood plain, adjacent to prime agricultural land in the legislatively protected countryside of the Greenbelt.

We renew our call to the government to do the right thing and stop construction of the gas plant in the Holland Marsh.

There is still time to stop the peaker plant from going ahead in the Holland Marsh. Thank you for supporting our efforts, and please take a moment to forward this email to 5 friends and ask them to join our campaign by signing our petition. Together, we can pressure the government to listen to our concerns and reverse this travesty.

There are clearly better ways to meet the electricity demands in Ontario. The GPO has proposed an energy plan that focuses on energy efficiency and conservation as the most financially responsible, cost effective approach to meet our energy needs. Imagine how much money Ontario could save by adopting this plan!

The government has admitted that their forecasts are so off that they can cancel a 900 MW plant with no impact on the Ontario's energy needs. Clearly, it is not necessary to build a tiny peaker plant that hasn't been through a proper the environmental assessment, that violates the Planning Act and the Greenbelt Act, and that the community has actively campaigned against.

Thank you for joining me in this drive.


Mike Schreiner