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An Open Letter to MP James Bezan

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MP James Bezan

James Bezan
Constituency Office
374 Main Street
Selkirk, Manitoba, R1A 1T7

Dear Mr. Bezan,

In your critique of Member of Parliament, Megan Leslie (Halifax), for having a listing for a talk by Richard Gage (a 9/11 conspiracy theorist) on her community events page you have, unfortunately, demonstrated an error in your understanding of democracy, as well as a logical fallacy.

A central premise of democracy is that (within the limits of the law) we not only allow -- but actively encourage -- freedom of expression, that is the right of people to freely voice their convictions. Upon that freedom is based the legitimacy of the electoral system, and hence the validity of representative parliamentary democracy. I'm sure that as a parliamentarian you support this principle.

MP Megan LeslieVox populi.

Democracy is intended as a marketplace of ideas, the best of which will ultimately prevail. As such (again, within the limits of the law) we must encourage people to freely voice their ideas, having confidence in the democratic process. The citizenry will listen, evaluate, decide, and select those ideas that best represent their values. On this process is democracy based. As Evelyn Beatrice Hall wrote (under the pseudonym of S.G. Tallentyre): 

"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." 

Furthermore, as a parliamentarian, I am sure that you are aware that once having been elected, no matter what your partisan affiliation, you then become the representative of all the people in your riding -- not just those who share your political persuasion or ideas. As such, facilitating democratic expression -- whether you agree or disagree with the ideas voiced -- is part of the tasks and responsibilities of an elected representative, something I'm sure you will also be in agreement with.

As such, there is nothing untoward in Ms. Leslie in providing a community events section on her website, the more so since Ms. Leslie explicitly notes (at the top of the page) that:

"Please note that this events page is a tool for the Member of Parliament as well as local groups and organizations to promote community events. The topics of events listed below do not necessarily reflect the views or position of the Member of Parliament or the New Democratic Party of Canada."

Removing all ambiguity in terms of who responsibility for the content of the events.

Community Events

Such fostering of the basic tenets of democracy are precisely what one would expect of an elected representative in a democratic state, yes?

Furthermore, the notion that supporting someone's right to speak implies that one also supports the content of what is said is clearly a logical fallacy. As a parliamentarian I'm certain that you often disagree with your learned colleagues on the other side of the House of Commons, while at the same time you support the democratic underpinnings of Canadian constitutional democracy, which guarantees their freedom to speak.

Finally, I must commend you in your assiduous interest in the community events transpiring in Halifax, given that your riding is Selkirk-Interlake, Manitoba, some 2,500 km (as the proverbial crow flies) distant. I'm really pleased that you have taken an interest in what is happening in our community and are therefore availing yourself of the event listings provided by Ms. Leslie to keep yourself up to date. A very laudable undertaking. I'm not certain if you take such an active interest in the other 306 Canadian ridings, but it is always heartening to know that Canadian parliamentarians are so actively engaged in what is taking place across the country.

With kind regards,

Christopher Majka
Halifax, Nova Scotia

Christopher Majka is an ecologist, environmentalist, policy analyst, and writer. He is the director of Natural History Resources and Democracy: Vox Populi.


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