Quash apathy


When things are terrible, do something about them. Cynicism changes nothing.

Are we becoming too apathetic about democracy?

With the Haanim Nur embezzling incident hopefully still fresh in our minds, the recent Huawei threat still on the radar, and the XL Foods fiasco continuing to raise a stink, the role of our governmental processes and our role in them deserves a second look and review.

The Nur incident highlighted not only the susceptibility of even the simplest form of governance to criminal activity, but it also highlighted that students generally seemed to care very little about what was going on. Sure, there were those of us who were outraged, wrote fuming comments on the online edition of the Carillon, or wrote damning articles for the Op-Ed. On the whole though, we really did not raise a serious political stink over the matter.

So why is that? Well, maybe it is not apathy per se, but rather that we feel that beyond writing comments or articles, we really feel powerless in affecting what goes on after we have cast our vote in the election. Person X gets elected to position Y and then they have free reign to do whatever it is that they want to do without impunity. Yet, this is in no way how things should work. In the case of Nur, the students that elected her should have had the power to put pressure on those in office to have a proper investigation and file charges. How do we do that? Well, no one really knows. At least I don’t, and I do not think that I am in the minority.

So how does Huawei or even XL Foods fit into this picture of university politics? For one, how many of us actually care about the two matters beyond avoiding certain beef products for a while? Do we register the topics beyond reading the headlines or reading an article in a newspaper or online here and there? Even if we do all of that and more to stay informed and find out how it affects us personally and Canadian society as a whole, maybe what we should be doing is going beyond that.

One of the possibilities that is open to us is to write to our MLA or our MP. We could even write the entire legislative body for that matter. Simply bombard the mail- and inboxes of our elected officials. After all, even if some poor schmuck is stuck reading what we send, the hope is eventually something will stick. This is not to say that there are not MLAs or MPs out there that actually read the mail they receive, but the likelihood is small, sadly.

Yet, I feel that most people would feel the way I do about such thoughts: what the hell is the point in the end? For starters, I guess, would be the fact that if we don’t make our voice heard, even if it is through the seemingly pointless act of writing our elected officials of what we think about certain matters, then are we not simply giving politicians the green light to omnibus every bill, every time? We, the people, should be the ultimate check on political power. All types of industries have lobby groups and pressure groups and so, too, should the electorate. We need to defend our stake in the political process, make our collective voices heard, and let politicians know that they cannot just steamroll Canadians.

If we feel a politician should be charged with a crime, make enough noise for it to happen. If we feel a foreign corporation threatens both our personal and our national security, and we want to see it banned, raise a racket. If we want to have safe food and we demand better quality of inspection, mail all the rotten tomatoes you can find and raise a stink about it. Only when we collectively capitulate and say, “to hell with it all, I quit” have we really lost and apathy has truly set in. Until then there will always be a glimmer of hope that political change can happen and that we will keep democracy ‘of the people, by the people, for the people.’

Sebastian Prost

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