The first episode of the Politics and Public Finance Podcast will be airing this week!

For our first panel discussion, I was joined by three guests to discuss the implications of recent protests in Ottawa and at border crossings for democracy in Canada.

  • Carole Chan is very active in local democracy in the province of New Brunswick, Canada, and is the co-founder of Femmocracy Now, a non-partisan initiative designed to get women in New Brunswick elected at all levels of government.
  • Consultant Charmaine Rodriguez joined us from Melbourne, Australia, where she spoke about the impact of similar protests there. She has over 20 years experience supporting inclusive Democratic governance, as well as development, political processes, and accountability programming.
  • Kevin Deveaux is a consultant and former Member of the Legislative Assembly of Nova Scotia. He was also Deputy Speaker of the Assembly. He has worked as an international parliamentary development advisor for two decades, including for United Nations Development Program.

Our conversation around democratic institutions and public sphere made me reflect on work I was involved in 25 years ago. At that time, we were looking, naively perhaps, to help build democratic institutions in post-authoritarian systems. However, fast forward to today, where more and more, the crises of democratic nations today require an understanding of anti-democratic trends of authoritarianism, divisive populism, and movements that openly promote democratic backsliding. The concepts are familiar, even if the contexts have shifted and the relationships evolve in surprising ways.

Our discussion took place in the shadow of an occupied Ottawa, and our panel reflected on the stakes and scope of the “trucker protests,” both within Canada’s borders and in the broader context of global democratic health. In particular, this moment in history reminds us that threats to democracy come not only from the prospect of a Trump-style ruler, but can also emerge from below as the public sphere becomes fractured. To clarify, not all protesters that occupied Ottawa were calling for the overthrow and replacement of the democratically-elected federal government, but some were. This is unprecedented in Canada.

Listen to the first episode of the Politics and Public Finance podcast HERE and stay tuned for future blog posts and a follow-up bonus episode!


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