Majority doesn’t always rule

Dianne St. Jean
Majority doesn’t always rule

As Canadians and westerners in general, who base the functioning of their societies on democracy or majority rule, we are increasingly seeing a trend toward a different style of governance, and one, in my opinion, that we should be concerned about.

Take for example, this scrap about the pipelines, which appears to be the main, if not the only factor, in the current attempt to overthrow the recently elected Liberal government in BC.

Whether or not we agree or disagree with decisions over things such as the use of pipelines, how we respond is actually the real issue. 

The new trend in the west appears to be that, even when there is a majority decision on an issue that others reject, reactions are becoming increasingly disrespectful, even to the point of aggressive strong-arm tactics in some cases.  In the States, we are now seeing violent reactions of disagreement.

Not that strong-arm tactics have never been used before, especially in politics, but what’s scarier, is it is not only becoming more frequent, but also more acceptable. 

As much as we might want to grumble whenever we are outvoted, the conventional reaction is to accept and respect the outcome even when we disagree, and to strive to continue to work together for solutions.

Refusing to accept and trying to topple democratically elected officials to me smacks of the spirit of dictatorship and Marxism. In my opinion, this trend is even more dangerous than some of those revolutions of the past, at least some of which were triggered by the suffering of people under conditions of extreme poverty, starvation, and oppression, where individuals were severely punished for speaking out a difference of opinion. The ironic thing is, those in the counter-movements now are the very ones who punish those who disagree with them.

Back to the example of the pipelines. I was somewhat surprised at the turn-around from Justin Trudeau and Rachel Notley, both who were elected much on the basis of their initial objections to the pipeline.

Obviously, for both leaders to now stand firm on their importance, and to have the confidence to endorse them, not only from an economic standpoint but an environmental one as well, speaks volumes.  Both leaders, although initially hated by some, have to be given some respect for having the open-mindedness and guts to change their position on the issue, knowing there would be negative repercussions from some of their supporters.

When people have the freedom to alter their position on matters without punitive reaction, that is democracy. When all voices are equally heard, that is democracy.

Take the pipeline controversy again as an example. The majority of British Columbians, at least those who occupy the largest geographical portion of British Columbia (north and central) want and need that pipeline; it is primarily those in the south who object. 

Although the race was close, the Liberal government won their place back into parliament fair and square. Since it was so close, this obviously speaks to the need for all Parties to work cooperatively together. Instead, we are seeing attempts to overthrow what represents the decision of many BC voters, as if their voice does not count.

There will always be differences of opinion, but in a supposed democracy there also exists, or should exist, a respectful acceptance of those differences.

When people no longer honour or accept the results of a democratic vote, we are no longer in a democracy, and that, my friend, should worry us.