Letter writers encourage would-be voters to do their part in the Nov. 15 civic elections to preserve democracy.

LETTERS: Democratic freedom takes effort

Letter-writers say we all are responsible for preserving democracy.

Editor:

The voter turnout for the 2011 Surrey municipal election was 25 per cent. Yes, only one in four bothered. And this is for a government that has more impact on the day-to-day life of most of us than Victoria and Ottawa.

At that election, all council elected were from one slate. This is not a criticism of the members or work of that council but a criticism of the attitude of the electorate. Is this really what democracy is supposed to be about?

Just consider what the city has partial or total control over: safety and policing; sustainability, cleanliness of our environment, garbage and recycling; sports and recreation for children and adults; parks; some of our cultural activities; libraries; population growth, planning and control of development and infrastructure.

Your recent excellent editorial on the need for a more obviously democratic council in Surrey (Incumbents already had their chance, Oct. 23 column) is surely of concern to all of us. There is going to be change. Two councillors are running for mayor, and one councillor has already won a seat in Victoria.

For this election there are three slates, a group of two, plus independents. There are 42 candidates in total, eight more than last time. All slates claim to be ‘independents’ operating under one banner. Some newspaper editorials question this “independence.” They want to see a council that is at least perceived to be democratic, where there will be the chance of challenges.

So what can we do about getting a balanced council? We need to look at who is out there and evaluate them.

The information is available from the media, the Surrey Elections website or candidates’ literature.

There are candidates who have run many times without success, some of them with the dedication and ability of being an asset to our city. There are people who have served on, or have stood for, higher levels of government. Some are on slates, some are independents.

Whoever you choose, vote. Remember, you don’t have to vote for all nine. Just any you like.

Semiahmoo Residents Association is hosting an all-candidates meeting on Monday, Nov. 10 at the Rotary Clubhouse in South Surrey Athletic Park, 6:30-9 p.m. Come and meet your candidates.

David Cann, Semiahmoo Residents Association

• • •

When I read a while ago of South Asians making charges that the vandalism of election signs was racially motivated, I read it with hopes that the charge was without merit. I have been very cognizant of signage vandalism as I drive over all parts of Surrey, and I am sad to say that this charge seems to have merit.

It makes me sick to think the fundamental rights of a democracy, the right to elect our representatives in a free manner, is being compromised by those who would take democracy into their hands and toss it into the gutter.

We all share in this, because, in the end, we get the government we deserve. If we get a government that is elected in spite of widespread signage vandalism does that call into question the credibility of the election?

It behooves all of us to think long and hard about what we truly value in our society. Canada has long been a land of opportunity, one in which people of all races have come seeking their fortune and the chance of a better life. Endemic to this is the right to take part, and even run for election, in an unfettered manner, consistent with our principles of freedom and respect for all. This is no less true of elections than it is when it comes to the importance of having access to all our democratic institutions, such as Parliament and our B.C. legislature.

Safeguards must be in place so that these hallowed grounds can be both accessible as well as safe. We rely on security forces to make our Parliament safe. When it comes to election signage, we must rely on ourselves to be beacons of respect and openness in supporting the right of all to take part in the system with the knowledge they, too, regardless of racial or cultural heritage, shall have the same rights as all.

That is what Canada has stood for ever since we became an independent country in 1867. While we have no required civics course in our high schools, we have to act as responsible parents in educating our children of the importance of protection of our election process.

Election signs are a fundamental part of the process in a democracy. Please do your part to encourage respect for our elections, which election signs, are an integral part of – and are hallmarks of – any truly free society.

If not us, whom? If not now, when?

Steven Faraher-Amidon, Surrey

 

 

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