Waiting for Democracy
A Citizen's Journal
Year Published: 1989
Pages: 300pp ISBN: ISBN 0-670-82284-1
Resource Type: Book
Cx Number: CX3751
Rick Salutin's account of the pivotal 1988 "free trade" election. Waiting for Democracy makes a strong case that our political system is anything but democratic, though it offers little hope of changing it.
Waiting for Democracy is about the free-trade election of 1988 but it is also much more than that: it's a well-written, gripping examination of what democracy is -- or should be -- all about. Rick Salutin travelled all across the country during the 1988 election, but rather than concentrating on the non-events staged by the political parties for the benefit of the media, he spent most of his time talking to ordinary people about what they thought about politics, elections, and free trade.
Salutin is passionately against free trade, and he is full of anger at the way this crucial issue was dealt with in the 'political process'. Everywhere he went in Canada, he says, free trade was the only issue on people's minds, and people on both sides of the issue (as well as the many who were undecided) felt that the media and the political parties were letting them down by failing to provide them with enough real information on it.
Salutin is devastating on the flagrant bias exhibited by the media in covering free trade -- not surprising, given that most of the media are owned by the corporate sector which favours free trade. Even the CBC failed to provide impartial coverage, with The Journal's Barbara Frum, for example, going out of her way to show where her sympathies lay, by aiming hostile questions at free trade opponents and sympathetic ones at supporters.
Salutin is particularly scathing on the NDP's performance in the election, reporting, for example, on how NDP canvassers were instructed not to talk about free trade because the issue was controversial, and how Ed Broadbent didn't even mention free trade at his press conference kicking off the election campaign. Even after it was forced to start talking about the issue, the NDP devoted most of its energies to attacking the Liberals, a tactic that Salutin thinks may have won the Conservatives the election.
Waiting for Democracy makes a strong case that our political system is anything but democratic, though it offers little hope of changing it.
[Abstract by Ulli Diemer]
Table of Contents
Life before Voting
The Election of 1998
An Interesting Blip