By Cleisthenes, as told to Victor Schwartzman
February 17, 2014
Hello. You probably have not heard of me. What do they teach in school these days?
I am Cleisthenes, of ancient Athens, speaking to you through the miracle of this Internet, where apparently nothing ever dies.
I was not a brutal conqueror of nations. Nor was I an Emperor who ruled through an accident of birth. Quite the opposite. Back around 508 B.C. I was the legendary Father of Athenian Democracy. Moving from hereditary rule to true Democracy was an achievement which took hard work and dedication. I am proud of my legacy.
However, Ontario has yanked me from my great rest, to speak to you from the Beyond. ONTARIO: THIS IS NOT WHAT I HAD IN MIND WHEN I CREATED DEMOCRACY.
I transformed Athens from a disastrous monarchy into a democracy. I was part of the royal family myself but a new Athens was desperately needed. Instead of being ruled by four families, I created a government of over 100 demes, your “ridings” based on geography. One of my best ideas was to avoid elections. Elections would draw those who seek power. My system’s representatives were chosen by lottery.
In situations where an individual threatened democracy, I created Ostracism. 6,000 votes was enough to dispatch the person to another city for ten years (this certainly worked with Xanthippus.) Sad to say, some people are better not to have around!
Ostracism was necessary because Democracy is complex, precious and must be protected. Today there is a threat to democracy. It comes from the politicians Ontarians have elected. I set up a lottery system. Did you follow that? Noooooooooo! You future people think you are so much smarter! Why? Because you invented extreme weather?
What has me upset is a response by Ontario politicians to a questionnaire sent by the AODA Alliance. The questions were sent to the three main political parties and responses were received on February 11, 2014. Each party was asked about its plans for AODA. Would it fully implement the legislation, for example, and if so what were its plans?
AODA is a law. The politicians were not being asked about whether there should be this type of law, but were asked how they would implement the existing law. Am I being clear? This point is important.
All three parties responded. Let us principally look at the party in power, the Liberals. Their response was to make no commitment at all regarding implementation. The governing party also refused to reveal any implementation plan it had.
The response of the Conservatives was similar. Only the NDP fully supported implementation. Within the version of Democracy which Ontario has created, it is evident that the Conservatives assume they may become the Government, so their refusals are a way of being prepared. Apparently the NDP does not think it will become the Government, so it has promised to implement the law.
The Liberals’ response is a disaster for Democracy.
Why? The Government refused to commit to implementing the law. If a Government will not implement its laws, Democracy has fallen apart and darkness grows over your land.
The rule of law is critical. This Ontario situation is not what I had in mind with this whole Democracy thing. You develop a law, you debate it, you vote on it and if the vote is successful, you proclaim it. That is the end of that process. The debate is over. Governments are not allowed to pick and choose which laws to enforce and which to ignore. When that happens you slide into tyranny.
And, of course, if politicians can ignore laws as they chose, why should not any individual also ignore laws they do not find convenient?
A lesson must be taught. Democracy must be preserved. It is time to call for a vote of Ostracism for the entire Ontario Government.
These politicians are dangerous in Ontario, where they have power. Ostracism will not hurt them but simply send them somewhere else for ten years. For example, they could go to Manitoba. Manitoba does not deserve to have these Ontario politicians, but as we all pulled together in Athens, so must Canadians pull together now.
Send your votes on Ostracism to The AODA Alliance, and preserve my legacy!
Next: I Should Have Been Packing Instead Of Writing This. If Something Gets Broken During The Move, It Is Your Fault. I Will Have Moved By The Time You Read This. Are You Reading This? Still? Why?
Victor Schwartzman contributes this weekly satiric column to Accessibility News – nothing in these columns is true except what they are about. His graphic novel (where each chapter is one issue of a community newspaper) is serialized on the great Canadian lit site, http://www.redfez.net. He also contributes a monthly poetry review to www.targetaudiencemagazine.com, has had poetry and short fiction published, and has edited novels. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.