Victoria and Saanich are about to assemble a Citizens Assembly to tell them whether to get together or stay apart. They have been counselled to do that by those whom Victoria Major Lisa Helpless identified as “the folks who run these kinds of citizens assemblies”.
In the 2001 BC election, Gordon Campbell inserted between the usual electoral promises of prosperity and bliss a pair of novel ones: a new “electoral system” and “fixed election dates”. Once elected, he fixed in a jiffy the election dates, thereby getting himself a four-year virtual “job security”. Then, staged a Citizens Assembly on Electoral Reform, “CAER”, to do the other promise. To make the show long, he hired a consultant, Gordon Gibson, to plot the implementation of that scheme. To get the most out of it, they scheduled the CAER to come to fruition after the 2005 election, providing that we re-elect Campbell to pollinate the CAER blossom.
After the 2005 election, the clever Premier averted the CAER reform decision by deforming democracy ...
I should mention some highlights of the CAER. The “Assembly-mentarians” were selected at random, ostensibly to bring a fresh approach to the task. To hollow that, Campbell delivered the recruits to a couple of seasoned Poli-Sci Profs to wash out of their heads their broadsightedness and bring them onto the PoliSci beaten path.
So proud of their Election-prowess and mindful of their calling the Assemblees became, that a young woman member posed for media photographers smoking a huge cigar much like Churchill posed for Karsh.
Another highlight was their doing the Ideas Bank. They neither mentioned it by name nor credited me, yet I was pleased to see it done. After it got underway I made a submission myself. Their reaction was quick, resolute and sinister – “they” shut down the Ideas Bank. And they fell silent.
What caused them to blow up the Ideas Bank was my suggestion to clarify their invitation for submissions to include “ideas for new election systems”.
Evidently this was taking democracy beyond their curriculum confines and the only way they saw to maintain control, was “silent bankruptcy” of the Ideas Bank , if you don’t mind the pun. It was archetypal faking fairness they were doing: Omnipotent they, had magnanimously granted us “freedom” albeit booby-trapped to self destruct if we ever use it. But it pleased me that inadvertently they gauged the potency of the Ideas Bank and exposed the fear Open Governance induces in the Establishment.
Since then, things have gone from bad to worse. The “lessers-evils” who govern us have gone berserk on secrecy. They appoint “committees” to spread the guilt and confuse the identity of the originators of deliberate wrongdoings. The Committees hire consultants to make pseudo-democratic decisions by baiting, harvesting and regurgitating “public input”. The originators implement the malfeasance safely, shielded behind the inanity: “The consultants made us do it”.
Trudeau won the 2015 General election by promising to make it the last election by the FPTP system. Upon being elected, he added eradication of the rest of the “democratic deficit” and appointed a Minister, Maryan Monsaf, to democratize Canada. Ingeniously, she hired consultants to do this Herculean task. They “surveyed the Nation”, dexterously interpreted the vox populi and, lo and behold, pronounced that the millions of us love our “traditional” Democracy. Yes ...
The notion I am struggling to illustrate is that the “box” is populated by dried up minds. For change to happen we must go outside the “box,” for out there the “malcontents” roam, restless, forever seeking “to excel”.
When stakeholders, be they Governments or other “bodies”, ask for “public input” the likelihood of it being a scam is substantial; it approaches certainty when they do it the “survey” way. They relieve the pressure of public ire and dissipate the energies of the dissenters by waste-basketting their input. Then, they play loudly the tune those who hired them want to hear. This done, we are expected to abide by the “will of the phantom majority” who “support” the project at issue and be thankful that the politicians screw us democratically.
As a rule, when public bodies tell us they want our views, it is for two reasons. One is to fake public input. The other is to learn how to fool us, by discovering our Achilles Heel. The probability of sincerely seeking public guidance is too remote and too confined to issues of low significance.
When the “authorities” assure us that they will heed our submissions behind our backs, they earn suspicion. When they, or their hired “ears” regurgitate the public input and serve it to us, it is scamming us to sign them blank cheques. It is as bad as shutting the doors of the courtrooms and expecting justice to be done. They just fake democracy, that is what they do.
Let’s not bite the Trust bait. Let’s “demand” (the government is ours) they explain their reaction to our quest for Governance reform. We will listen to the Trust’s side of the story, attentively, openly, in the light of day ...
Bits and Bites
On sunny days Norbert Wiener would stroll on campus talking with students. MIT had a stenographer follow him, taking down every word he would utter. Very wise. At the Athens Polytechnic the Prof of Reinforced Concrete, Pericles Paraskevopoulos, fondly called “PePe”, had the same habit. On a sunny day PePe would walk about campus and a group of us would quickly surround him. No stenographer for him, but we listened and I remember his wit. I will share a bit of it with you.
“Persons in authority have to stand on a pedestal for they have a hole on the top of their head and were they to descent and level with us, we will see it.”
PePe cemented fast this fact in my head some 70 years ago.