Are We Too Dumb for Democracy?

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With recent events in the House of Commons involving Question Period, most notably Mr. Calandra’s antics and Mr. Mulcair’s calling out the Speaker of the House, there has been a great deal of talk over the past few weeks across the country looking at whether certain parts of our democracy are dysfunctional.

Below, I have linked a few radio programs and a couple of articles which look at various parts of our democracy. What do you think? Are there certain things we should change within our democracy?

CBC 180: Can Question Period be Fixed?

CBC Sunday Edition: How to Fix Question Period — Michael’s Essay

CBC Ideas: Too Dumb for Democracy

The First Past the Post System Doesn’t Work for Canada


28 thoughts on “Are We Too Dumb for Democracy?

  1. I think that we aren’t too dumb for democracy. There are things that can be changed though. Things such as question period need to be changed. I believe that the government needs to actually answer the opposition’s questions properly instead of creating a diversion in the answer and getting away with it. So I think that we should change the way question period is utilized instead of completely getting rid of it because questions are asked from the people that the opposition brings up during this time and these issues are important and need to be addressed properly instead of being diverted and getting away with it.

  2. Though the House of commons may have gotten out of hand and created bad media attention, I don’t believe we should get rid of question period completely but should improve it so it works in a organized, professional way. In my essay I will talk about how we can improve our question periods.

  3. Too dumb for democracy is a term meaning that you are slow to learn… And I believe we have not yet learned it, but there are possible solutions, to question period and the conduct of the Speaker. A possible solution is following our friends in the UK. In the UK parliament, their speaker has practically the same power and job as in Canada. Except that he actually ensures ordely conduct of business in The House of Commons, is tough and is WILLING to cut people off. That’s solely what our Speaker needs and to do and also enforce unanswerd questions.

  4. Too dumb for democracy is a term meaning that you are slow to learn… And I believe we have not yet learned a solution, to question period and the conduct of the Speaker. A possible solution is following our friends in the UK. In the UK parliament, their speaker has practically the same power and job as in Canada. Except that he actually ensures ordely conduct of business in The House of Commons, is tough and is WILLING to cut people off. That’s solely what our Speaker needs and to do and also enforce unanswerd questions.

    Ps sorry but I accidently posted with the wrong account

  5. I think we aren’t too dumb for democracy, but there is definitely much room for improvement in the Canadian government. The question period with Paul Calandra and Thomas Mulcair was definitely a clear example of why our democracy could improve on. It is funny and disappointing at the same time to think that someone who is a part of running Canada can’t answer a simple question during question period, then making a fool of himself crying to apologize the next day. Things like this should be improved, there are much greater issues to be concerned of in Canada. In my essay i will be focusing on how our government could improve and how and why did this happen during question period?

  6. I don’t think we are too dumb for democracy, but there definitely has to be a lot of changes to the system. We have had the same government system for quite a long time and I think the best way for us to fix this whole issue is to make some modifications to it. I will be going into more detail about this in my essay, but definitely some changes in regards to answering the question you are given during question period.

  7. I believe that we are too dumb for democracy. The reason for this is because there are so many flaws and areas where we are not able to keep up with the system we use. For example, we do not elect our senators, instead we make the governor general appoint people to the senate as a veto. We are defying our main purpose of democracy, for the people to make the decisions. Either we change the system, or abolish the senate, neither of which has been done already. Also, during question period, the answer to the question is off usually off topic and not straight forward to the question; as we can see very recently in the case of Paul Calandra. The question period neither helps, nor improves the argument of the bill at hand because we are too dumb to follow the system that we have put forward. In order to successfully become more available to democracy, we have to make changes so that the people are actually making the decisions, and that we are following the system that we so call “use.”

  8. I do not feel like we need to get rid of question period, just that we need to fix and organize it more, and make people answer questions. Another one of my ideas about our democracy is that instead of having a first past the post voting system to possibly have an alternative voting system. I feel like it would improve our government a lot, and involve more people.

  9. We are not dumb for democracy. I think it is just that we did not fix or improve all of the flaws that we had and still have in the House of Commons. Therefore, I believe that we should not get rid of question period, since actual significant questions and concerns are asked by people. More questions and concerns can help the citizens of the city to have many questions of their own brought up by the questioners. I think we should improve our question period to be in more order without drifting off into nonsense ideas to get away with the question. The speaker should also be more in charge to keep things in order and be more strict so that debates can proceed more properly.

  10. I don’t think we are necessarily to “dumb” for democracy, I think we just don’t know how to vote, among other things. It really did surprise me, though, that most people don’t actually bother to search up candidate’s platforms. I thought everyone did that, and it really bothers me that people just vote based on “feeling”.

    I don’t think we should get rid of Question Period, although something does have to change. If we take away the press then we are also taking away information from the public, essentially making the Canadian Government even less translucent and public-friendly then it already is. Instead it should be made mandatory that MPs hand in written questions to the Speaker before Question Period takes place.

    The First Past The Post system is definitely not fair, and doesn’t represent the public well. Unfortunately, power-hungry politicians don’t make it easy for any changes to be made.

  11. it was very interesting to hear David’s opinion on the topic. Listening to the show, its got me convinced just how much we really don’t know about democracy. Many of us have no real background on democracy and proper decisions when it comes to democracy. The reality is that most elected politicians rarely do what they promise to when campaigning, and lower us in by those promises. People say they vote based on their “gut feeling”. When it comes down to it we have no clue how these people will run our country and when chosen there is no going back. I feel before we take on major decisions about our country we need to be educated rather than based on gender, gut feeling, etc.

  12. I believe that our democracy needs to be improved. There are currently many problems with the way our parliament is set up, such as question period, however question period serves as a way to check the governments power. My main problem with Canada’s democracy is the senate. One year ago, I had a debate about getting rid of Canada’s senate. This debate outlined both the pros and cons of the senate. After this debate, I decided that I believe that the senate is an undemocratic waste of money. That is why my Too Dumb for Democracy post will be about why the jury is flawed and needs to be abolished.

  13. I think that we should not change question period but we need to change things. The whole point off question period is to ask questions and to get these questions awnsered. It is not there to just have people not ansering the questions. But my point is that it needs to be more orginized. Because if it is not organized theres no point of having a questin period.

  14. I believe that democracy is flawed, not the people being to “dumb.” First past the post is an outdated system that needs to change. David Meslin suggests that there will be no winner until after they get 50% of the vote. When citizens vote they look for honest and intelligent candidates. However the current voting system. However, the current state of the democratic process attracts candidates that are seeking power, advantage and fame. In conclusion we are not o dumb for democracy. However democracy is a system that is flawed, but that does not mean that we are too dumb. Democracy is the best option for a government system. With that being said, a lot of changes could be made i.e. there will be no winner until after they get 50% of the vote, or downplay the role of television ads during election campaigns, says University of Toronto philosophy professor Joseph Heath.

  15. I would have to yes as humans we can be dumb, especially when it involves politics. How are we dumb you might ask…. well for one politics is never fair play and we are easily persuaded by it. I believe its all about power, if it wasn’t then how come how come Politicians support the idea of Proportional Representation when it is in their favour but oppose the idea when they are the party in power. Now I believe we are all fed up with the waste of time we call Question Period. We should experiment the difference that cameras can bring to the House of Commons. Suppose we try the idea Micheal from CBC purposed, I believe it would be effective. But a flaw might be that we don’t know what was discussed during Question Period and if it was still unsatisfying. So, I would propose we have the clerk write the questions being asked and the answers being returned and then post them on government website for the public to see, to accomplish this we would need to make slight rule changes and put more pressure on the MP’s to answer the questions. The purpose of Question Period for the political parties is to make themselves look good (trying to stay in power) and others look bad. If democracy is really about the people and representing the people then don’t you think we should a bigger say in our government? This is what I will be talking about in my essay.

  16. I believe that we are “too dumb for democracy”. Why? Everyone wants power. Many flaws of Canada’s (or any) parliament are things you essentially can’t control. Such as in question period, where people try hard making the opposing parties look bad to maintain power or gain power. In the podcasts above, they commented about how the speaker should be a little more aggressive and judge the relevance of a question more often. I believe that should be further enforced because we shouldn’t let members of Parliament get away by avoiding questions.
    Now about First Past the Post, I believe that doing an alternative way of government isn’t going to make it any better because if you determine the seats in government by the percentage of votes they’ve received, how is parliament going to operate well? One of the problems would be: the opposing parties wouldn’t vote on others’ bills and so forth because they want the power in the future. So if every party had less than 50% of the seats, the chances of creating bills would be so low. As much as FPtP doesn’t “work” for Canada, I think it’d be better if it remains this way.

  17. I think that we are too dumb for democracy. Everybody in our society has some form of need for power. If we let selfish people run our countries, what will happen? Our society will fall apart and it will just show how ‘stupid’ the human race is. We need to understand the impact we have on our government and politicians need to understand their responsibility.
    In the House of Commons, it is important that questions get answered. The Opposition needs to know what the government is doing about major issues in our country. So if the questions aren’t answered properly, will anything ever get done?
    Question period has gotten out of hand. How can we fix problems or discuss problems when questions are answered with completely irrelevant answers? The government should change question period so it can actually do its purpose. Whether they do it by adding rules,or enforcing already made rules, it needs to be changed.

  18. No i don’t think we are to dumb for Democracy but rather i think most Canadians are unfortunately to lazy and to ignorant to take more of an active role in politics. Because of this laid back attitude an apathy towards many aspects of democracy, things don’t change. As far as Question Period is concerned. It should not be eliminated but rather needs an established set of rules that need to be followed and monitored. The purpose of having a question period is tho keep all sides on there toes on terms of policy. As for the media of course they should be allowed in to listen because it keeps the public informed and nothing hidden from the public.

  19. I think we should not get rid of question period because there was a reason it was made in the first place, and it is a good way for other parties to ask and question the governments plans thoroughly. Just because a few people may have made it seem counter productive does not mean we should get rid of it. We just need to find ways to make sure that the speaker, LOP and PM are all in check and follow the guidelines.

  20. I personally do not believe that we are too dumb for democracy. I think the essential conflict is that people these days are too lazy to even care about election and what happens within our city. If people made the effort to listen to politicians and have an opinion on who should be elected, there would be no problem. We are definitely not too dumb for democracy! The question period however is not successful, however we should not eliminate it, but we should implement some standards and policies to it.The point of this question period is for the politicians to make their side look good and engage the audience in their points, but also make the other side look flawed.

  21. I believe that the house of commons has lost all thought that others have opinions, they inly think about their side of the story. Trying to divert attention from the main question to make their argument look stronger, in the end i just makes them look uneducated about the subject at hand. People are too lazy to think about the other side of the argument and educate themselves in what needs or doesn’t need to be done to solve the problem at hand.

  22. I feel like we are too dumb for democracy. I feel like we trust these politicians too much and it’s kinda stupid that some people go according to their gut feeling. For heaven’s sake, if the are anything like me, they wouldn’t know what their gut is telling them. I think I am angry when I am hungry, if I was going according to my gut feeling, Canada’s government would be screwed. I also agree with who ever suggested that the media should boycott for one week (I’m not sure who said that). I bet that if the media actually listened to this suggestion, the House of Commons would be having the best decisions they have had since camera’s and media were permitted inside the House of Commons. I also feel that we should change the Speaker (I think they can to do that), they should elect a speaker that is a control freak and will follow the guidelines. But I don’t think that we should get rid of question period because if it is used to it’s full potential it can actually be really useful. I feel that we have bigger problems than question period. I believe that the biggest problem that we have in our parliamentary system is the Senate. That is why question for my essay/report is going to be “Do We Really Need Senate to Have a Functioning Democratic Society?”

  23. I definitely do not think that we are too dumb for democracy. As Canadians, our participation in government is very high when compared to other countries, a fact that would not be true if we really were too dumb for democracy. When it comes to the senate, I do agree it is an important part of democracy. As we all know, democracy means ruled by the people, and we also know that the senate consists of ordinary citizens such as teachers, artists, and doctors, aka, the people. The senate provides another opinion towards incoming bills and potential laws.

  24. we aren’t to dumb for democracy its that sometimes the politicians we elect to represent us do not represent us how we would like them. In my essay I will be talking about how we can improve question period for it to be more productive

  25. I do not think that we are too dumb for democracy. I do think though that we as Canadians are just to lazy to become more active politically. Question Period should not be removed rather it should be changed so that there is a specific set of rules.

  26. Are We Too dumb for democracy?

    I think we did not just make a few mistakes, we are too dumb for democracy. We made too much mistakes in couple of weeks and we should be able to make a at least reliable democracy. The conservative party only had less than 25% votes but they still are the majority! I thought representative democracy was suppose to be a democracy where our votes count as our thoughts. Most Canadians agree that a Proportional Representation system would be fairer and would help our Parliament serve us better. Even many politicians support it, in theory. Most notably, our current prime minister has spoken in favour of Proportional Representation while he was in opposition. How is this possible? It is because we have let our democracy go loose to much, we have to stop this and make our democracy the way it needs to be. We have to fix this in a way that democracy can last or we can come up with a better solution which can last longer. The term proportional representation characterizes electoral systems by which divisions in an electorate are reflected proportionately in the elected body. If 30% of the electorate support a particular political party then roughly 30% of seats will be won by that party. If we use this method we can reflect the actual popular vote by taking away seats from the top 2-3 parties and distributing it to the smaller parties and independent candidates.

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