Democracy Limited
Publication:
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 1 Apr 1937, p. 308-317


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Democracy Limited


Two aspects of Democracy: the place and the limitations of public opinion in democracy; the place of freedom in democracy. A look at some of the things that have been said about public opinion. The difficulty today for public opinion to determine with any degree of accuracy what government is about, and why that is so. The monetary question as an example. Why the speaker does not think that the solution for the problem of an informed electorate lies in education. Rather, it is a question of whether all of us can be educated into experts, and because that is manifestly impossible, it must follow that it is impossible for public opinion as such to constantly advise, influence or dictate to a government regarding what should be done about the questions which come before government day after day. Trying to create a pattern of public thought, to try and fashion some principle, or philosophy of government, to try to arrive at principles of sportsmanship, fair play, decency. Giving those in positions of responsibility a fair chance in carrying out policies within the principles we may devise. Mistaking public opinion as merely the functioning of propaganda for some special group or some special interest, and the consequences of that mistaking. The tendency toward group selfishness. Two or three recent examples of what the loss of respect for liberty may mean. Reference to two legislative measures adopted by two of our oldest and greatest provinces within the past weeks which strike heavily at the old principle of British liberty. "An Act Respecting Communistic Propaganda" passed in the Legislature of Quebec, and in Ontario, an Act to amend the Securities Act, with a discussion of each. Public reaction to these Bills. A word to the speaker's colleagues of the press with regard to freedom of the press. The speaker's wish to see more public discussion and debate regarding these two measures.