In Case You Missed It… Winter Forum #4 – Transforming Democracy: From Conflict To Collaboration

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Don Plumb has elegantly reviewed the lively presentation by Dave Meslin at an Academy forum on March 2nd where Dave argued for the transformation of democracy from conflict to collaboration.  The full review will be published in the upcoming Spring AQR.  Offered here is a sketch of Don’s article.

Dave is a seasoned social activist, self-described as a “political biologist,” who is the Creative Director of Unlock Democracy Canada, a grassroots non-partisan national campaign focused on democratic renewal. He is also the author of Teardown: Rebuilding Democracy from the Ground Up, an analysis of and re-imagining of our current democracy. He analysed some of the problems in our democracy, but also offered positive alternatives and possible solutions.

Dave is interested in how the machine of democracy works and why it seems to be so dysfunctional. An example of this problem is that usually more voters choose not to vote than choose a particular party.

One serious issue is that politics has become a “blood sport.” Parliamentary question periods have devolved into shouting matches — an adversarial system where opposing parties aggressively abuse each other, rather than look for possible compromise.

A second major issue in our democracy is the first-past-the-post (FPTP) election system. The party that wins the most votes wins the seat, even if their share of the popular vote is less than 50%.

Dave had some further suggestions for improving our democratic system, starting with our schools. Dave is a strong believer that the individual has power in the political process and that significant change occurs at the grassroots level, not at the top levels of government. Overall, his enthusiastic, positive approach offered cause for optimism that our democracy can be reimagined.

Please read Don’s complete review in the upcoming AQR.

Linda Tu