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Want to prevent cancer? Then lobby for democratic good government!

By Duff Conacher

No one should be surprised that Canadian governments, politicians, and government employees protect corporations and big business executives who abuse the public and push products that harm and kill — the system allows them to do so through weak rules, weak enforcement, and weak penalties.

This is not to say that all, most, or even many politicians or government employees are dishonest, unethical, secretive, non-representative and wasteful — but if any of these people act in these ways they will often not be caught, let alone penalized, because of loopholes in laws and weak enforcement systems.

No matter what issue concerns you, including preventing cancer, strong good government laws will help ensure that the government addresses your concerns. History has shown that we won’t likely have a good country until we have good governments, we won’t have a clean environment until we have clean governments, we won’t have consumer protection until we have a consumer-driven government, and we won’t have a fair and just society until we have fair and just governments.

Incredibly, the laws and enforcement of parking a car illegally are stronger than most government accountability and corporate responsibility laws and enforcement systems in Canada. In some cases the penalties for parking illegally are higher than for government officials or corporate executives who act dishonestly, unethically, unrepresentatively, secretively or wastefully!

While governments and corporations do bad things, often it is because they are operating in bad ways. And when governments operate in bad ways, they usually do not require corporations to act in good ways (because they make secret, unethical deals behind closed doors with corporate lobbyists).

Unfortunately, the public always pays one way or another when governments or corporations act in bad ways (especially when they do bad things together).

Politicians, government officials, and big business executives are resisting changes to the system that would increase their accountability for wrongdoing. Canadian politicians have control over their own rules, and Canada’s biggest corporations spend $25 billion annually on lobbying and promotion efforts, so Canadians have to push hard if there is any hope to counter the corporate lobby and win key corporate responsibility changes. They just don’t get it, so we have to give it to them until they do!

Yes, the ongoing lack of response by governments and big business to Canadians’ concerns is discouraging, but if we give up pushing then bad politicians and governments and irresponsible big businesses will do even more to hurt people, communities, the environment and the Canadian economy.

You can help clean up the system and prevent future scandals by simply writing letters to politicians making it clear that you are part of the large majority of Canadians who want changes to clean up and democratize Canadian governments. Never assume that no one else is writing a letter, because if everyone assumes that then no one will write a letter. Politicians actually get very scared when even a small percentage of voters write them, because they are very concerned about losing the next election.

Years of agitation and lobbying by ordinary citizens resulted in provincial and municipal laws banning carcinogenic lawn pesticides, so that a majority of Canadians are now protected from these poisons. It was a hard-won victory and shows the collective power of citizens against powerful corporate interests.

With an estimated 186,400 new cases of cancer (excluding 81,300 non-melanoma skin cancers) and 75,700 deaths from cancer in Canada in 2012, we urgently need engaged citizens to force government and industry to do the right thing.

Democracy Watch welcomes your support — thank you for doing your part for democracy and corporate responsibility in Canada by becoming a Democracy Watcher at:

Duff Conacher, Founder of Democracy Watch and author of best-selling books Canada Firsts and More Canada Firsts.

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Also in the FALL 2012 Issue of An Ounce

Published: November 25th, 2012