Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Civicness Abounds

Crossposted from my livejournal, which I can post to from my iphone. (old school meets new school, I know)

I voted for a mayor today! I feel incredibly civic, especially since I voted in the basement of a church, with a fabulously eclectic bunch of volunteers and with a little sharpie voting marker.
After coming to political age as a Canadian in one of the redest states in the union and under the Bush years, I am super pleased to have broken through this barrier in my political apathy. Plus I have a whole little philosophy about voting, involving the fact that if things don't work, I can try for someone else next year! I am flush with democratic freedom and power! And also am going right away to look up whether elected officials make up a democracy or a republic. ( I hope to win the argument with my friend that we in fact live in a republic, not a democracy. Also, yes yes, commonwealth, constitutional monarchy, hush, this is my democracy argument) Also also, that is a lie. I will look it up later when I am not posting from my phone, on a bus, on my way to my grandmother's wake. Decent chance my dad and I are going to end up singing old folk songs.
Update: My friends then looked it up for me! Because I live an awesome and beloved life. The conversation went as follows:
Friend A
You're going to win your argument. In a democracy (A "direct democracy") all laws would be voted on by all people - not really practical for more than a few 100 people. Thus, representational democracy was born, wherein everyone elects someone to speak for their needs. Individual states and provinces are representational democracies. Once you federate those together, though, you end up with a republic.

Friend B.
Yeah, but that's not how it works in Canada.

We have a representative democracy - we vote for a person to represent us in provincial elections, and again in federal elections - they are completely separate electoral systems.
The federal house is made up of individuals who were elected directly by their constituents to represent their interests. The party in power is the one with the largest number of dedicated representatives in the house, and the Prime Minister is the leader of that party, elected by card-carrying party members prior to the federal election (provided he was elected by his small number of geographically-based constituents).

Sorry, Rabbit. I'm with your opponent on this one.

Also, congrats on voting. It worked!
Also, sad to hear about your grandmother. You and your dad ok?

I wrote that early this morning, and I wasn't entirely clear. The key difference is that a republic is a federation of semi-independent states. The laws of one state still apply to citizens of the other states, even though they never voted for the legislators who passed them. For example, when you go to sunny Alberta, the laws of the Albertans still apply to you even if you are a Ontarian (Ontarionian? Ontarianist? Ontarionaut?).

In a democracy, this wouldn't be true. To be completely accurate, one should say that Canada is a republic of representational democracies. But of course, it's a constitutional monarchy with characteristics of a republic of representational democracies. You might as well just elect a pope and finish off your collection.

Upcoming Event: Rockclimbing at Vertical Reality.

P.S. Yes, I post upcoming events. No, you are not allowed to use this to stalk me, it is purely so that you know about awesome stuff in ottawa. Glad that we cleared that up. 


  1. In my defence, I was not arguing that we lived in a democracy, I was arguing that we do NOT live in a pure republic. And because more systems of government exist than simply "republic" and "not-republic-but-still-voting-therefore-democracy", I feel like I did not LOSE the argument. Just that I did not, strictly speaking, win it.

    Q: If I go to France (or Vietnam, or really anywhere else in the world), the laws still apply to me (unless for some reason I have diplomatic immunity), even though no one I voted for enacted them. How does this affect the above defenition of republics?

  2. oooh, also, according to both wiki and the OED, republics are SPECIFICALLY states without monarchies. Thus Canada does not = a republic.

  3. I have to say, I really love the fact that an argument that I can win in the states can not be won in the same manner in Canada. Makes me all warm and cozy and learning new things.

  4. Well, if the argument were that you didn't live in a STRICT REPUBLIC, I'd never have defended you :)

  5. Yes yes, I think the argument was more along the lines of my classic: "Aargh, people always go on about the Democracy we are when really it is a republic" with a rejoinder of "What? No. We're a democracy." But that was two weeks ago and while walking, so I will not defend to the death my perceived boundaries of the debate.