Saturday, April 5, 2008

Electoral Reform

Ever since I was a page in the BC provincial legislature, I have had this idea about how our system of government should change.

There is so much bickering and partisan blockage that damages the democratic process and how things are done in the legislative assemblies across the country, and in our federal government, I have often wondered how we get by at all. Yet, the system tends to work just fine, and the provinces and country continue to run smoothly.

However, like any good system, it could be better.

What in my view is the cause of the major problems both in public perception of the government caused by the media and in the actual way that arguments erupt in our decision making bodies on their own, is the party system. Because of the affiliation with parties, the public has little that they need to educate themselves on in order to vote; they can simply vote for the same party that they have for the past several years. Rifts between liberal and tory create harsh views of politicians in the media, and average people refuse to vote, because they feel powerless to change the way things are run.

My idea is two-fold.

First, get rid of political parties.

Not only does this cut down on the donations and support that can be recieved en masse by politicians, but it forces people to go out and meet the politicians that they vote for, so they can know what they are about, and decide if they like them as a person with sets of values and morals, instead of just a corporate or union backed political platform.

Second, reinstate direct democracy. I have no idea when it died, but with today's ability to transport people to and from where they live to where they make decisions, direct democracy can work again.

Direct democracy would work by using a tiered system. In your neighbourhood, you would go into a local school or church or some kind of other public building and meet to decide on changes that affect your immediate area. That same body would have two representatives that would participate in a more regional decision making body, such as a municipal government. This group would make decisions concerning broader issues, such as police force or sewage treatment. Also, from those same groups all across the province, one or two representatives would be elected to participate in decision making at the provincial level. And then finally, at the federal level. And THEN, ideally, at the international level, at the United Nations.

By getting rid of parties and putting in this kind of system, a link would be formed between every level of government. Also in this fashion, you would only have to vote for one person, and that person would be accessable to you whenever you attended the town meeting, or whatever it would be called.

There wouldn't be any money required for election campaigns, as you would only need to convince the people at the level one below your position to vote for you.

Anyways, there would be a phenomenal amount of details to consider, but I think that all in all, it could work.

World Peace

Poetic Reflection on Student Congress

Thaw Out Your Candle of Optimism

The world says to us,
(Or maybe just the media,
I don't know)
That our world is in jeapordy.
Climate Change and Recession
Jockey for positions in newspapers,
And Maclean's magazine

The public looks uppon politicians
With distrust,
And a sense of gloom falls over us all

Negativitiy fills our heads with worry
And doubt.
We become defensive
And look around in all the wrong places
For a saviour.

But all is not lost.

When you meet that person
Who has the ability to inspire you,
Entertain you and make you laugh,
Or even someone who knows how to think for themselves,
You can take comfort.

The world isn't a horrible place.
Certainly, it could be better,
And it's our responsibility to maintain positive change.
But hope, still exists.

In that dark corner on your peripheral vision
A glimmer of light beckons.
Shining brightly for us to warm our souls,
And thaw out our candles of optimism.

All you have to do is take off your blinders,
And turn around.
You'll see there's far more good than evil,
More light than darkness.

So why don't you?

Why don't you?

World Peace

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Student Congress 2008

So, a few weeks ago I applied for this Student Congress thing that's going on in Vancouver this Friday (April 4th). It's part of the provincial government's initiative to create more of a dialogue with schools.

So, I applied, and I was one of the people randomly selected to participate. They're flying me by float plane to Vancouver, and they're covering all transportation and rooming costs. Sweet deal, right?

I thought so. So know, I'm thinking about what kind of stuff I should do to prepare, and a lot of my musing over the past few days has been about that, trying to find something that I can talk about when I get to this student congress thingy.

So I thought. And I wrote. And I reflected. And I wrote some more. And I talked with my parents. And I wrote some more. And I talked with some other random people. And I wrote some more. You get the picture.

So, in tune with what I posted the other day in giving young people a way to finding their way in the world, I've finally got it. I have a cause, and I have something that I can change.

That thing is located within the school system. Now, I know that we do a pretty dang good job here in British Columbia at education. We have high standards, good universities, great teachers, and great programs. My school in particular is one that is very accepting and friendly, offering a great variety of programs to choose from while boasting an excellent teaching staff.

However, like many other good systems, it is not perfect, and I have a passion to continue to continually make things better.

Kids in general aren't big fans of school. Granted, they like the fact that they can make friends and on occassion find a subject that they particularly enjoy, but the whole concept of a classroom isn't always the greatest. Now, this can often be countered by the magic personality or the excellent teaching style of a good educator, but it can also be improved in other ways. If you want students to enjoy learning, then you've got to think outside the box.

One of the key ways to do this is by letting them out of the classroom. I know for a fact that at my school in particular, one of the best things that our students like to do is travel. Get out there and get to know the world, and experience the things that they are being taught in class. I mean, one can only stomach sitting behind a desk for so long, that's why we invented holidays. But what about field trips?

These are a brilliant concept, and not only for educational purposes, but also for the purposes of letting the students let loose and have fun together. Because that's the thing that students come to school for, is to have fun with others their age as they learn about the world and about each other.

An educational policy that encouraged twice as many stuctured extracurriculars that all students could enjoy is a start, and not only in the form of other courses that they could take, but also more excursions that take lessons outside of the classroom.

If students don't have to spend so much time in a world they view as a prison which can't hold them forever, they won't be so inclined to dislike it.

World Peace

What is my cause?

I don't know.

But lets try and figure it out. Right here, right now.

After all, I find that I do my best deep thinking while writing about something that I'm not required by someone else to write.

I want to find out what drives me, what causes I like, so that I can use something like that to present to the media in such a way that I can get publicity for myself and that cause.

Kind of selfish, I know, but it's the way that I think is going to work if I want to change the world.

So, what drives me. What values do I have? That seems like a good place to start. I value family, people who voice their opinions, humour and not taking oneself to seriously, honesty,
taking leaps of faith, courage, integrity, community, acceptance, kindness, the pursuit of success, beauty, wow this list is getting to be really long. I guess that there are a lot of things that I value.

But what kind of things do I value that I would like to see more of in the world. Well, I would like to see more faith in politicians, to start. I would also like to see the world enlightened to the many things that are going on around them. Just like Plato's Cave, I would have people make the journey to the mouth of the cave, feel the harsh sunlight in their eyes, and then go back to tell others about what they have seen.

What do we lack? What should we not have? I would like to see children in Africa with full bellies and free from AIDS. I would like to see the United States stop bullying the rest of the world into doing what it wants. I would like to see the country of Tibet restored to it's rightful status. I would like to see money's power dissappear, and have it replaced by the power of principles. I would like to see an end to war, an end to greed, an end to everything that makes this world so horrible to live in.

I guess that I have been putting it at the bottom of most of my correspondance for weeks. I have wanted, since I was probably five or six years old when I first understood that there were other people in the world, Peace on Earth.

Now I know that we have been working towards peace for a long time, with the establishment of the United Nations, the Nuclear Disarmament that occurred in the 1970's, and more. And it's a long road, but I think that we'll get there.

I will continue to want this ideal of heaven on earth, for lack of a better world. I guess that everyone wants it, paradise.

But I think the problem is they don't really know what paradise is. They think that they do, but they really don't. So they pursue things that they hope will bring them closer to happiness and the ultimate truth of what paradise is.

So, that brings me to the thing that I want to happen in order for people to get to their truth. I want people to be free to explore every road so that they can find their way to achieving their dreams of peace, prosperity, and salvation. That means that anything which obstructs us from exploring another part of our ultimate question should be removed.

There, I think I've got it now.

I am going to remove all barriers that prevent young people from exploring themselves, their country, and the rest of the world. And I will do so in a careful, thoughtful fashion that takes as many other factors into consideration as possible while doing so.

Phew, that wasn't quite as hard as I thought.

Now I've just got to go out and find the things that are impeding our journey of discovery.

Wish me luck.

World Peace.

Sunday, March 30, 2008


I was talking to my Mom, Dad, and some other people about what I posted the other day relating to my feelings of nationalism. Through discussing the issue with them at length, I have come to a few realizations about what we are as a nation.

First of all, I think that Canada has a national identity, and a strong one at that, I just haven't found it yet. Secondly, it came up in our discussions that what I was demanding to know from the world were also things that I was demanding to know from myself. I have yet to forge myself in the fires that will make me who I am, and I'm itching to find out what I will become.

So, if Canada has a strong identity, what is it?

Well for one, we have an excellent reputation abroad as diplomats and peacekeepers, a legacy started and continued by Lester Pearson during the 1950's and 1960's that continues today. Secondly, we don't throw our weight around like our neighbours to the south. Granted, when they throw their weight in our direction we tend to comply more often than not. But when left to our own devices, we don't pursue any action without first considering it in depth.

Canada is a wide open expanse of land, full of green forests, rugged tundra, and golden plains. We are connected to three of the world's oceans and have the world's second largest landmass. If America is the land of the free, Canada is freedom itself.

This freedom is expressed in our laws as well. Our Charter of Rights and Freedoms is embedded in the Constitution, making it far more effective at protecting our democratic, legal, mobility, equality, economic, fundamental, bilingual, and many other rights. Freedom is something that Canada personifies and emulates.

Speaking of equality, as Canadians we value acceptance. As a multicultural nation, we accept people of every set of stripes and from all walks of life inside our borders. We take in refugees, we give the underprivledged homes, and we give the people of the world a chance for a brighter future. Instead of assimilating all of those inside our borders, we allow them to exist as mini-nations in their own right, adding to our own cultural richness. Our multiculturalism is like a buffet of beliefs, you can try a little bit of everything until you find the stuff you like, and then everyone's happy.

Of course, Canada is particularly famous for being bilingual. I'm not exactly sure, but I'll bet that we are the only developed country to have two official languages. Again, this symbolizes our cultural acceptance of others and our values of equality.

Canada is also reliable. If we committ to something, we follow through. In Afghanistan, we voted to go in and help rebuild their nation. We have not backed out, and we have maintained our committment to that country and also to our Allies. The world depended on us to take aciton, and we followed through. Now that we are nearing the end of the time that we said we would stay there until, we are having a fair, public debate on whether we want to stay longer or not. This excercise in democratic fair process is excellent and noteworthy, one that countries around the world can look at and follow.

One thing that my dad and I talked about in particular last night is the notion that you don't have to make a lot of noise to be a leader. Just because Canada doesn't make a lot of noise doesn't mean that we're not world leaders. We are. We just don't advertise it to the rest of the world like America does.

Now that I look at these things that I have said about Canada, I can identify these values and charcteristics within myself. And I can say that I am proud of them. These values are shared by the resrt of the country, and they make me who I am. They make me Canadian.

True North, Strong and Free.

Oh Canada.

World Peace

P.S. I've decided to no longer call myself Duck. It was a weird sort of randomness that I took a shine to, and I no longer feel that way.