Local citizen creates pledge for renewal of democracy

A Lacombe citizen has created a pledge he says encourages the renewal of democracy.

A Lacombe citizen has created a pledge he says encourages the renewal of democracy.

Ross Smillie has created a short pledge, meant to be read out loud, that calls citizens to stand on guard for democracy.

Over the past year he has been tweaking the pledge, and as the idea evolves, bringing it to the attention of fellow residents and Canadians in general.

“What we are hoping to do is contribute to building up the citizen will power that will help to change the way we do politics in our country,” said Smillie.

The idea behind the pledge is to prompt discussion about what democracy actually means a system of government in which power is vested in the people, who rule either directly or through freely-elected representatives.

Smillie said the timing to bring the pledge forward to the public could not be more fitting with the upcoming federal election in two weeks.

“One of the reasons I am raising it now, is that I want the health of democracy to be an election issue,” he said. “We have to start thinking about it this election. It’s not just all about the economy, although the economy is important. It’s not just about the things leaders talk about. It’s got to be about the health of our democratic system.”

Smillie came up with the idea to create the pledge last Remembrance Day.

“I kind of woke up in the morning and the idea was running around in my head,” he said. “On that Remembrance Day, I was thinking about what the people who we honour during Remembrance Day did and what were they actually defending. The point of fighting those wars was to defend the democratic system that we have, where the power is spread quite broadly and the power belongs to the people, not just one person. That’s what the the word ‘democracy’ means.

“Democracy is complicated,” he said. “It depends on a lot of things the rights of minorities, on an impeachable court system. It depends on fair elections and respect for legislature. You only get the democracy you fight for, that you stand on guard for. If we don’t stand on guard for it, it gets undermined because it is still a radical idea.”

The Stand on Guard for Democracy Pledge commits to guarding, “Those rights and freedoms which many have defended with their lives, and which inspire hope in those living under tyranny.”

It also covers areas of protecting rights for minorities, freedom of expression, fair elections and the law.

Smillie hopes word about the pledge spreads and more citizens would consider committing to it in their daily lives.

“I wrote this in the hope that it would be read out loud and people would say it together,” he said. “I would like for people to commit to it. Post it on their fridge. It really can be a part of a broader movement.”

For more information about the pledge, visit the Stand on Guard for Democracy facebook page.

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