(File photo)

COLUMN: Voting by itself is not enough

Not all countries with elections are strong democracies

On Saturday, Oct. 24, British Columbians will cast their ballots in a provincial election.

The results of this election will affect the direction of the province in the coming years. For this reason, it is important to vote.

But voting by itself is not enough.

Around the world, elections are commonplace, but in Canada and a handful of other countries, the electoral process is something special.

According to an annual freedom ranking conducted by The Economist, a London-based news magazine, Canada ranks eighth in the world for the strength of its democracy.

This puts Canada among countries such as Norway, Iceland, Sweden, New Zealand, Finland, Ireland, Denmark, Australia and Switzerland.

READ ALSO: Should voting be mandatory in federal elections?

READ ALSO: Elections Canada says two-day voting possible amid COVID-19 if election called this fall

These countries and others are ranked as full democracies, where elections are fair and free and where civil liberties are respected.

Only 22 of the 167 countries listed in the report were identified as full democracies.

These countries, with a total population of 430 million people, account for just 5.5 per cent of the world’s population.

Much of the rest of the world does not have the level of democracy we enjoy in Canada.

Even the United States, with its emphasis on freedom, is not listed as a full democracy. Instead, it is rated as a flawed democracy.

The country was ranked 25th on the list and its status has been declining in recent years.

Other flawed democracies included India, Brazil, South Africa, Italy, Israel and Japan.

The list also includes hybrid regimes, where electoral frauds are common, corruption is rampant and there is a low level of participation in the political process. This list includes Honduras, Guatemala, Uganda, Zambia, Ukraine and others.

And there are authoritarian regimes – dictatorships or absolute monarchies where the freedoms we enjoy in Canada are nonexistent.

North Korea ranked at the bottom of The Economist’s democracy index.

The country has regular elections, but only one name appears on the ballots in North Korea, and there are penalties for those who do not vote for the sole candidate. Also listed as authoritarian regimes are China, Iran, the United Arab Emirates and Cuba.

The fact that only 22 countries are listed as full democracies is cause for concern.

In Canada, our democracy is solid and our country is consistently near the top of the democracy index.

But it is up to us to make sure it remains strong.

It’s important to get out and vote in the upcoming provincial election, but voting by itself is not enough.

The real work begins after the votes have been counted.

The public needs to keep an eye on governments, whether federal, provincial or regional, to ensure decisions are made wisely and to keep the process transparent.

If there are questions or concerns, whether about an issue on the table or another point of concern, call the Member of Parliament, Member of the Legislature, mayor or a council member to discuss the issue.

These people, no matter what their platform or party affiliation, have a responsibility to serve the public, not just their strongest supporters.

The party platform, or the direction set by the leader, must not trump the needs and wishes of the electorate.

Once the election is over, it is time to put aside the talking points and hot-button issues and get to work on the decisions that affect us all.

Our democracy in Canada is strong. It’s up to us to keep it that way.

John Arendt is the editor of the Summerland Review.

To report a typo, email:
news@summerlandreview.com
.



news@summerlandreview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

ColumnistElection 2020

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus.[CDC]
More COVID-19 exposures reported at schools in Kelowna

Interior Health added additional schools and dates to their list of exposures

The West Kelowna Warriors defeated the Vernon Vipers 4-2 in BCHL Pod Season action Friday, April 9, 2021. (Lisa Mazurek Photography)
West Kelowna Warriors end Vernon Vipers’ perfect start to Pod Season

The Warriors beat the Vipers 4-2 Friday afternoon

Tom Smithwick has written a new book, Knocking On Freedom’s Door, about his experiences advocating for a drug addiction treatment program in Kelowna. (File photo)
‘Knocking On Freedom’s Door’: A retired Kelowna lawyer’s insights to mental illness, addiction

Freedom’s Doors advocate Tom Smithwick shares what he has learned from experiences of treatment program clients in new book

Royal LePage Arena was an addition to West Kelowna championed by Len Novakowski. (File photo)
West Kelowna community leader Novakowski dies

Former Westside regional district director Len Novakowski dies after lengthy health battle

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod, seen here on April 9, 2021 with four-year-old sister Elena and mom Vanessa, was born with limb differences. The family, including husband/dad Sean McLeod, is looking for a family puppy that also has a limb difference. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. family looking for puppy with limb difference, just like 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy McLeod born as bilateral amputee, now her family wants to find ‘companion’ puppy for her

A vehicle that was driven through the wall of a parkade at Uptown Shopping Centre and into the nearby Walmart on April 9 was removed through another hole in the wall later that night. (Photo via Saanich Police Department and Ayush Kakkar)
Vehicle launched into B.C. Walmart removed following rescue of trapped workers

Crews cut new hole in parkade wall to remove vehicle safely

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Four members with Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans were out at Cultus Lake on March 28 and 29 hauling trash out of the waters. (Henry Wang)
PHOTOS: Out-of-town divers remove 100s of pounds of trash from Cultus Lake

Members of Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans hauled out 470 pounds of trash over two days

As of Saturday, April 10, people born in 1961 are the latest to be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. (Black Press files)
B.C. residents age 60+ can now register to get their COVID-19 vaccine

Vaccine registration is now open to people born in 1961 or earlier

A new saline gargle test, made in B.C., will soon be replacing COVID-19 nasal swab tests for kids. (PHSA screenshot)
Take-home COVID-19 tests available for some B.C. students who fall ill at school

BC Children’s Hospital plans to provide 1,200 kits to Vancouver district schools this April

Sun Peaks is tracking rising COVID-19 cases. (Kamloops This Week Photo)
Sun Peaks sees spike in COVID-19 cases at end of ski season

On April 9, there were 15 positive cases confirmed.

Ruming Jiang and his dog Chiu Chiu are doing fine following a brush with hypothermia that saw several people work together to get them out of the Fraser River near Langley’s Derby Reach Park on March 25, 2021 (Special to the Advance Times)
Man finds men who rescued him from drowning in B.C.’s Fraser River

A grateful Ruming Jiang says he will thank them again, this time in person when the pandemic ends

Most Read