Blog Post by Sidney Ribaux, Équiterre's Executive Director and Co-Founder
During the Second World War, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill said, “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.”
This reminds us that, for all its flaws, our democracy, which gives us the right to choose our leaders, is far better than a dictatorship or authoritarian regime that perpetuates poverty and oppression.
A country isn’t a democracy just because citizens have the right to vote. Take China, for example. But one thing is certain: if citizens don’t participate, there is no democracy.
The decline in voter turnout for elections in Western democracies—particularly at the municipal level—is worrisome. At the last municipal elections in Quebec City, turnout was 47%. In Montreal, it was even lower—43%.
But the stakes are high, as municipalities are responsible for a number of issues at the heart of our daily lives, including water management, public transit and bicycle safety planning. They also have a strong influence on issues such as pesticides, waste management and composting.
With regard to the environment in a broad sense, municipalities are the level of government where citizens can have the most impact. While it’s true that several factors contributed to the cancellation of the Energy East pipeline project, one of the most important was the opposition from hundreds of municipalities across Quebec, including Montreal.
In so many countries, human rights and environmental activists put their lives and freedom on the line to speak out. We, on the other hand, have the opportunity to make ourselves heard, and we should fulfill our democratic duty.
So on November 5, please do your civic duty and vote! It’s something we can all do to demand a city that reflects who we are.