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  1. reneethewriter permalink
    December 6, 2008 12:34 pm

    This is your finest piece – a pleasure to read; thought-provoking and surely, a call to arms for citizen led engagement and education.

    As a “renegade lawyer,” as a university educated urban dweller, and a “transplated/immigrant/westerner” (Yee Haw) – i try and not get too “poncy” about, er, you know, brushing up on Civics 101 rather than, um, shopping (which i dearly love to do) but for pity’s sake, eh?

    We Canadians must get our intellectual house in order. The Elgin Parliament! No Taxation without Representation! The War of 1812! The historical saga of how our unwritten constitution came to be repatriated. Etc.

    What is it that the old union organizers exhorted us to do: “Sit down and read. Educate yourself for the coming troubles.”

    Thank you, Adam,

  2. adamfritz permalink*
    December 6, 2008 12:13 pm

    Excellent points.

    The interesting thing about relying on the formal education system to ensure that we are prepared for our civic responsibilities is that education is controlled by the provinces. The educations that Canadians receive are therefore different from province to province. This affected me personally as I changed provinces going into high school, and somehow missed ever having to take a course in Canadian history or how our political system works. I happen to be very curious and have taken it upon myself to figure out how things work, but it wasn’t until later in life.

    As for the honesty and intentions of politicians, I happen to believe that most (but not all) politicians are honest and hard working people with very good intentions. It is a very hard lifestyle to lead, with very few rewards. That being said, it is also a profession that tends to attract people with significant egos and strong ideologies. Some people truly believe things that other people know to be false, while others will say anything to taste power.

    The only way for Canadians to ensure that the honest and well intentioned politicians win the day is by educating ourselves so that we cannot be deceived by fabrications, and taking it upon ourselves to take part in the system through voting, volunteering, protesting, voicing our concerns, providing our ideas, and becoming politicians ourselves. Not doing any of this would be uncivilized.

  3. December 5, 2008 2:45 am

    Good summary.

    I agree that ultimately the problem is our own, but the state has a big role to play as well: through our K-12 education system, our funding of post-secondary, awareness building campaigns, etc.

    More fundamentally, our understanding can be spurred by politicians acting and speaking honestly and accurately about our system.

    To me the question is: who is helping educate the public? Who is deceiving us?

    Most politicians get failing grades (educating when it benefits them, staying silent when it doesn’t), but the way Harper uses lies and misinformation about our political system to whip up anger and fear is staggering.

    The really frightening thing is that when politicians thrive on confusion and misinformation, they are being actively rewarded for under-educating the people and have an incentive to make the situation even worse.

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