I remember watching a movie when I was growing up about life in the future. The film depicted a society in which the majority of people lived in squalor while the elites lived in safe and bright communities with strong security protecting them from any infestation by the lower class. I remember thinking these projections of the future were stupid because we live in a democracy – no one would ever allow political control by citizens to deteriorate and permit this kind of desecration of society and values to occur.
I'm writing this letter on Remembrance Day. I feel democracy – the one our ancestors fought for, the one I grew up believing in, the one we should always stand up for – is under attack. Democracy is something that is not guaranteed; if we want to keep it, we need to fight for it.
Premier Jason Kenney has introduced a bill aimed at changing the Local Elections Authority Act to allow a $30,000 donation limit for third-party advertisers. This will introduce big money into municipal elections. Communities will not know who is behind the advertising, and it will be a direct threat to candidates who do not have that kind of financial support.
Our local governments tend to draw people who live in a community. They see problems they think they can fix and decide to step up and try to make a difference. They are not political and don't enter the political arena with big money, but they know and love their community and they care about what happens to the place they and their children live.
How many local citizens or corporations can afford to spend $30,000 in an election? We should also ask who would be willing to spend that kind of money to help candidates win office? Does this give an advantage to developers, whose interests are directly controlled by local government?
Given all the problems we face with COVID-19 and threats to our economy, we should ask why now is the time to bring dark money into our elections? Have we not seen the threat increased dark money poses to citizens’ rights in the United States?
The final threat to our democratic elections is that the government proposed eliminating the requirement for candidates – the people who want our votes and trusts – to disclose their donors to the public prior to the election. Kenney's government sees this act of disclosure as unnecessary red tape.
Dark money poses a threat to democracy. Why is the Kenney government introducing that threat into our local governments? If you are concerned, let your government know and check out what the opposition party’s positions are. In a democracy, your vote is powerful and needs to be used when your rights are being undermined.
This is a war for democracy. Will we step up to fight for it?