More than anything else during all the hullabaloo of the proroguing of parliament last December i was discouraged by the spectacular ignorance of Canadian democracy that was exposed. Nor was this simply ignorance of the Canadian populace. A citizen not otherwise specializing in democratic process can be forgiven for failing to understand the (often arcane) formalities of parliamentary democracy as we've inherited it from our imperial progenitors. But to see politicians and journalists perform their ignorance was profoundly disturbing. I'm used to people being baffled by how "rules of order" work - we are hardly born with natural inclinations to move and second motions, let alone prorogue a parliament. These are processes that must be learned. But i can see that we are doing a really poor job of it. I've also just come through a strike by my union CUPE3903 at York University and, while i am a staunch defender of the democratic right to strike (and if anyone doubted the need to strike, the University's often cavalier belligerence made it pretty clear that nothing less than a strike would move them) my experience of democracy within the union was almost equally discouraging to that of my experience of witnessing the parliamentary fiasco. Nor would i simply say that it's about enforcing any particular set of rules (Bourinot's Rules, the basis for Canadian parliamentary procedure, were first written by a clerk of the Canadian House of Commons in 1884 - and if they favour a certain type of patriarchal leadership, this should hardly be a surprise after over a century of feminist activisma nd scholarship). I would like to see the rules reformed in a process of dialogue that democratic, critical and creative. But until we can bring that about, we got the rules we got. And they're not that hard to follow. Or so i thought. It seems we are equally ignorant about how to apply formal democracy at the national level as we are about applying at more modest organizational levels. The thing about rules in formal democracy is that they should be used both to ensure that the voice of the powerless is heard as well as the voice of dissent. However, most rules are used to regulate power such that the rule by the powerful and privileged is reconstituted pretty much as is. When i think of all that needs to be done this century in terms of climate change, the environment in geneal and continuing to resist and reverse the profound and historic injustices of inequality, i despair a wee bit when i see the comedy that passes for democratic process in our countries. Thus i need to see actual comedy (as with Rick Mercer above of John Stewart's Daily Show below).