The Peace Tower is pictured on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, Jan. 25, 2021, as lawmakers return to the House of Commons following the winter break. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

The Peace Tower is pictured on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, Jan. 25, 2021, as lawmakers return to the House of Commons following the winter break. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

EDITORIAL: Maintaining a strong democracy

Canada has placed fifth worldwide for the level of its democracy

Canada has a strong democratic tradition, and it’s up to us to keep it that way.

The latest Democracy Index rankings, released earlier this month, put Canada in fifth place out of 167 countries around the world. Other countries near the top include Norway, Iceland, Sweden and New Zealand.

The annual index is conducted each year by The Economist, a London-based news magazine and evaluates each country on several criteria.

The most robust democracies were listed as full democracies, where elections are fair and free, and civil liberties are respected.

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By comparison, the United States placed 25th and was listed as a flawed democracy.

The U.S. has been declining in the rankings in recent years.

The index also includes authoritarian regimes such as North Korea, China and Cuba. It also lists hybrid regimes, where election fraud and corruption are common, as is low participation in the political process.

Canada’s democratic system is something to be treasured, but in order to maintain this tradition it takes a commitment from all of us.

This involves participating in the electoral process, by voting and perhaps by registering as a candidate or volunteering to help a candidate or political party.

In a democracy, there is room for many voices at decision-making tables.

Maintaining a strong democracy also requires respect for the processes we have in place and respecting the outcomes of elections – even if not all are happy with those results.

And it means holding elected officials to account. Governments, whether at the federal, provincial, regional or municipal levels, exist to serve the public, and those who are elected are there to act in the best interests of their constituents.

A strong, fully functioning democracy also shows itself in the participation of the public, even when elections are not happening.

Those who have concerns about a topic can and should raise their concerns.

We in Canada are able to participate in all levels of government, which is not the case in many other parts of the world. It is up to all of us to maintain that freedom.

— Black Press

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