DoNow: Does Democracy Work?


All Grade 9 learners at the Maples Met are being asked to consider the following question: Does democracy work?

This question arises from current affairs, namely the recent US election and the rise of Russia’s global power and influence. It also arises from the annual Glassen Essay Contest facilitated by the University of Manitoba’s Centre for Professional and Applied Ethics.

Recently, Canada has gone through a federal election and we have witnessed a provincial election here in Manitoba. Both of these elections offered points of discussion related to electoral reform and concepts such as first-past-the-post.

These recent events beg the question as to whether or not democracy actually works in 2016. What do you think? Does Democracy work?

To begin, we need to conduct some research and answer some guiding questions (and perhaps Crash Course can help begin the discussion):

What is democracy? What is the difference between democracy and liberal democracy? Is democracy just voting, or more? Here is a great opinion piece from Al Jazeera which looks at the state of democracy and also touches on some key concepts.

When and why democracy? Democracy has not and is not the norm. What is the history of the evolution of democracy? Here is a great BBC timeline of the continuity and change of democracy. Similarly, the Nobel Prize has a great map  will help us ground our thinking in history.

Here is a great article for the New York Times which looks at the stability and longevity of democracies. Also here is a fantastic interview conducted by Michael Enright of CBC’s The Sunday Edition with renowned political philosopher Michael Sandel. In this interview, Sandel speaks to the state of democracy.

Your final product will of course be a submission to the Glassen Essay Contest. In the meantime please comment below or via Twitter (using #DoNowDemocracy) to further our discussion and/or share resources.

You can add resources to the Padlet located here.


The Role of Satire

Aristophanes via Notable Quotes.

Aristophanes via Notable Quotes.

With recent events in Paris and the debate over the role of satire, free speech, and hate laws, there has been a healthy interaction in the Winnipeg Free Press which looks at what satire is, firstly, and then whether it is critical to Canadian and global democracy.

St. John’s-Ravenscourt‘s very own Mr. Mark Duncan responded today in the Freep to a letter. The original letter, by Harry McFee, condemned the use of satire. Here is the letter written by Harry McFee:

Here is Mr. Duncan’s response this morning (scroll to the last letter):

Based on the debate between McFee and Duncan, where do you stand on the use of satire? How far can free speech be taken? When are Charter rights not absolute?

Here’s Rick Mercer’s latest rant. Is Ricks’s satire important to Canada’s democracy?

Good luck!