I have said it before and I will say it again: there is a steep learning curve that comes with being a Member of Parliament. I have no doubt the same applies to Members of Legislative Assemblies, no differently then I discovered on becoming a city councillor.
Last week in my MP report one of the subjects I raised was decisions made in the Courts by unelected judges as opposed to decisions made by democratically elected governments- my comments applied to all levels of government, this includes local governments, provincial governments, regional governments and of course federal. I also made it clear that my intent was to start a conversation and I requested feedback, being careful to also point out I was not attempting to sway opinion on the subject.
The good news was that I was successful in starting a conversation: my MP report led to an interview on a CBC national radio program and that led to a CBC print article. That in turn that led to a large number of responses on social media, emails to my inbox and even a few phone calls.
The downside is that there was not much of a discussion. Although I heard from what I view as a significant amount of citizens the views tended to be either strongly concerned or strongly opposed. There was little actual discussion.
What is most troubling is that many of those who are opposed resorted to either significant use of profanity or large scale personal attacks. Judicial activism is a legitimate concern that many citizens share- it is one that has been passed on to me by constituents and that in turn is why I raised the subject in an MP report.
It is also understandable that citizens in any democratically diverse society will disagree, at times even strongly; this is of course why I asked for input on the subject in the first place. However what saddens me is that in a democratic discussion of differing points of view a segment of citizens feel personal insults & attacks is fair game and justified. For example, suggesting a discussion on a policy item that others feel strongly about, instead of leading to an exchange of information with the hopes of leading to better mutual understanding, you see personal attacks, insulting the intelligence of another (and much worse unfortunately).
I would also like to thank those citizens who took the time to offer comments both supportive and opposing in a respectful and fair manner. I have long maintained that part of what makes Canada stronger as a country is that in spite of our vast geographic size, cultural and historic diversity, we as Canadians respectfully exchange differing views and ideas on how we can continue to build on our success. At times Canadians are even mocked (in jest) for our “please and thank-you” politeness!
There is absolutely nothing wrong with disagreement and debate it is healthy and what keeps us vibrant and engaged as a society– however I also believe we should leave the personalities and personal attacks behind– and that is a lesson we can all be mindful of in how we can better communicate with each other as Canadians.
In addition to his weekly MP Report. the Dan in Ottawa blog is another resource for residents of Okanagan-Coquihalla. Chronicling Dan’s personal experiences as he travels to Ottawa and throughout the riding as your MP.
For more information about Dan Albas, click here.