Subject: New Canada - Mike's Message II
From: "Mike Houghtling"
Date: Sun, 25 Feb 2007

Hello everyone,


Much has happened since the last “Mike’s Message” (Feb. 5). Some good, some not so good. Such is life I guess.


Just to get everyone up to speed, on the 20th of January a few unregistered parties and concerned citizens from southern Ontario got together with the intention of formally creating the alliance talked about on the “makingadifference” forum. Although initially a success, I now consider this "1st" attempt a failure. The failure is mine. In my eagerness to have something - anything for the voters to see for the upcoming federal election, I chose to ignore that two key figures in creating this "democratic" alliance had not fully understood the concepts of synergism and consensus building. They are now continuing on their own projects and have decided to try to register with Elections Canada separately. For now, New Canada is not quite dead. A few more groups have shown some reserved interest in the idea but the alliance is pretty much in suspended animation until there is enough support to bring it back to life.


But out of failure comes valuable lessons. Not all of the effort from the "Cambridge Accord" as we've come to call it is worthless. We did manage to unanimously agree on four core principles. These core principles or pillars I believe all Canadians can support and can still be the foundation of any alliance, partnership or association of small parties, independent candidates and concerned citizens.


These principles are; (The definitions are my own words)


Assured Autonomy - Members are free to represent their entire communities and elected representatives must put the will and need of all their constituents before their own ambitions and those of the party. Elected representatives must have the freedom to represent their community without fear of reprisal from their party.


Direct Democracy - The people are the final authority on all issues. It is the responsibility of democratically elected leaders to ensure the will of the people is followed and encourage the people to exercise this will.


Electoral Reform - It is the responsibility of everyone to strive to find the fairest and most effective ways to create true democracy.


Reform of Government  - It is the duty of elected representatives to ensure government constantly works to improve the relationship between itself and the people it governs.


After a year of trying to bring democratic activists together I've concluded that - for the time being - forming an official alliance of small parties and independent candidates with the ability to register with Elections Canada is not something people are prepared for. First we need to learn what democracy really means, and we need to learn how to practice democracy within our own organizations. We also need to communicate more effectively and those of us wanting to be the leaders in this movement need to learn both the principles of leadership and the unique dual nature of being democratic leaders. What this means is leaders need to be examples and the sources of inspiration that motivates the people to exercise their will to which the leadership is required to follow.


Informal alliances and associations seem to be preferred among the people I have talked to. In time, as we get to know and trust each other better, stronger bonds can be established. This likely won't happen for the upcoming federal election. Perhaps for the election after this one, but even that is not guaranteed. I can accept this as I believe democracy is more then just a system of government. It is more then just a way for the majority to dominate the minority. It is a method of resolving issues that is acceptable to the greatest number of people. It is a way of building both free and ordered communities. It is a way of life. It is a philosophy. It is an ideal that, by definition, can never be fully realized but is therefore all the more worthy of the pursuit.


Time and distance and money are always factors in these things. We are looking to find ways to bridge the gap through technology. Right now a few of us are looking for an inexpensive and reliable place to hold videoconferences. Any suggestions are always appreciated. Perhaps a directory style website with links to all the different organizations and parties is in order. This website could also be the home of a forum and blogs for the participants.


We are also looking for a show of interest in holding a mass meet-up. This get together would "not" be an attempt to unite people under one banner. It would just be an opportunity to promote and defend your organizations and policies, hand out some flyers, give some speeches, maybe participate in a few debates. Get to meet in person. If you manage to convert a few to your cause, all the better. Ottawa would seem the appropriate location for this. Perhaps this Spring, but that may not be enough time to get something organized and for people to prepare for the trip.


In the meantime, a few from the Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge area are considering other options. We’ve come to the understanding that before any one will be taken seriously, they will need to prove themselves at the polls. To this end we are determining whether to establish a riding association in this area as a part of one of the small parties we’ve come to know about, or as a completely independent group. As always we would appreciate any suggestions or opinions. (yes even the negative ones)


I have decided to keep the forum  open a while longer. If you haven’t been on it yet, feel free to look it over. I will warn that it is a bit ornery when it comes to registering. You may need to try it a couple times. And if you still can’t register, please let me know. Another good location to find other democratic reformers is the Fireweed Democracy Project This is a completely different intitiative but it has been around for quite a while and boasts over 1,400 participants.


The declarations I sent out with the last message, you can still fill out and return if you’d like, but only as a show of support for establishing some type of a national voice for small parties and independents. I also ask you not to send any donations at this time, as I cannot tell you what your money would be used for. If you do feel the urge to donate may I suggest one of the many grassroots democratic reform movements popping up all over the country. One is likely to be found in your area.


I would like to close by asking people to please be patient. I think it is obvious to everyone, even those in the thick of it, we appear to be flying off in many different directions at once. Democracy is far more difficult to express then the more autocratic sytems we may be use to. The wisdom of many may be greater, but much harder to discover then the will of just one person. The true enemies of democracy are not the despots and tyrants, but our own tendancy to choose cynicism over hope and apathy over community. When we exercise our freedom of choice by making enlightened choices for the benefit of all, the spirit of democracy shines brightest. I am confident, in time, our efforts will meld into one, united, real alterntative for all Canadians.


As always, feel free to pass this message along to anyone you think may be interested. And please let me know if you no longer wish to receive any more communications from me on this matter. Thanks again for your time.


Mike Houghtling
Waterloo, Ontario
mhough AT gto DOT net