- Polly Toynbee reminds us that a precarious living for much of the middle class is nothing new - and neither is a cacophony of reactionary voices claiming that a desperate struggle for survival is the natural and proper state for most of humanity.
- And Jim Sinclair writes that unions are more relevant than ever in fighting for job security and worker rights in the face of a corporatist movement determined to squelch both.
- Charles Pierce observes that absolutely nothing has changed in the wake of the Texas fertilizer plant explosion. And Ashley Fitzpatrick reports on the Auditor General's conclusions that the federal government is completely unequipped to deal with an oil spill off the coast of Newfoundland or Nova Scotia (to match B.C.'s similar inability to handle predictable disasters).
- Finally, Alice Funke has some suggestions to start exercising our democratic muscles:
A new set of electoral boundaries coupled with two new opposition leaders, many retiring incumbents, leader commitments to open nominations, a changing party system, and a three-way race in public opinion polls -- these all set the table for lots of interest and new faces on the federal political scene.
In fact, the current round of by-elections are already paving the way, featuring as many as six competitive multi-candidate nomination races across the four ridings and the three national parties.
But we've gotten out of the habit of open, competitive riding nominations in Canada, and our democratic muscles have gotten flabby from disuse. To get back in shape, we need a fitness program to strengthen those democratic muscles, so we can flex them in service of our democracy.
As citizens we don't control all the rules governing our democratic system, and we can't stop the people who want to subvert it from trying to do so. All we can control is our own participation. If we want to strengthen our democracy, we need to join, challenge, vote, run, write, play by the rules, and admire our competitors for doing the same. That's how to strengthen our democratic muscles, for all the races that lie ahead.