Democracy is a system of government that has been widely adopted around the world, but it is not immune to challenges and threats. In recent years, there have been concerns about the health of democracy in a number of countries, as well as the rise of populist movements and strongman leaders who challenge democratic institutions and norms.

Additionally, issues such as disinformation and foreign interference in elections have raised concerns about the integrity of democratic processes. However, it is important to note that democracy is a resilient system of government and it has been able to adapt and evolve over time to meet new challenges.

Trudeau swarmed in Hamilton, CTV News

Governments can take several steps to protect democracy, including:

  1. Ensuring free and fair elections: Governments can ensure that elections are conducted fairly and that all eligible citizens are able to vote without fear of intimidation or harassment.
  2. Protecting freedom of speech and the press: Governments can create an environment in which citizens are free to express their opinions and access a diverse range of information without fear of censorship or repression.
  3. Upholding the rule of law: Governments can ensure that laws are applied equally and that citizens have access to an independent judiciary to protect their rights.
  4. Protecting the rights of minorities: Governments can ensure that minority groups are protected from discrimination and that their rights are respected.
  5. Promoting transparency and accountability: Governments can ensure that public officials are accountable for their actions and that citizens have access to information about how public resources are being used.
  6. Promoting civic education: Governments can work to promote civic education and encourage citizens to participate in the democratic process.
  7. Preventing interference or manipulation of the electoral process: Governments can put in place measures to prevent foreign interference, disinformation, or manipulation of the electoral process.

Journalists play a critical role in protecting democracy by informing citizens about the actions and decisions of government and other powerful actors. They can help to expose corruption, hold public officials accountable, and give a voice to marginalized communities. Some ways journalists can protect democracy include:

  1. Investigating and reporting on government actions and policies: Journalists can help citizens understand the issues and decisions that affect their lives by providing in-depth reporting on government actions and policies.
  2. Exposing corruption: Journalists can use their investigative skills to uncover corruption and abuse of power by public officials and other powerful actors, and bring it to the attention of the public.
  3. Providing a platform for diverse voices: Journalists can ensure that a wide range of perspectives and voices are represented in the media, providing citizens with access to diverse information and opinions.
  4. Holding public officials accountable: Journalists can question and challenge public officials, helping to ensure that they are held accountable for their actions and decisions.
  5. Promoting transparency and access to information: Journalists can advocate for transparency and access to information, which is essential for citizens to be informed and make informed decisions.
  6. Providing contextual information: Journalist can provide context on news, events and current affairs to help citizens understand the broader implications of what is happening and how it is affecting them.
  7. Fact-checking and verifying information: Journalists can help to counter disinformation and misinformation by fact-checking information and verifying sources.

All these actions from the journalists can help to protect democracy by fostering informed and engaged citizens, promoting transparency and accountability, and helping to ensure that the actions and decisions of government are subject to public scrutiny.

Citizens can protect democracy by participating in the democratic process, such as voting in elections and becoming informed about issues and candidates. They can also support organizations that promote transparency and accountability in government, and speak out against actions that threaten democratic principles, such as voter suppression or corruption. Additionally, citizens can work to promote civil discourse and understanding among different groups in society, and support a free and independent press.

Note: This article, except photos, was written by ChatGPT, which was answering questions from Norm Farrell

Categories: Democracy

11 replies »

  1. Thank you Norm for this timely article. A foundation stone of democracy is knowledge and the resistance to giving the general population this important tool is huge.
    Just one example if I may. Twenty years ago our Federal Parliament passed into Canadian law a legislation titled the “Canada Well-Being Measurement Act”. It received unanimous support in 2003 . Part of the establishment of this noble purpose, was to have Statistics Canada prepare various measurements as a way of keeping political opinion out of the equation.
    Twenty years on, everyone I talk with has no idea what I am trying to discuss when I raise this subject.
    I am currently trying for a meeting with the President of VIU and so far the “gate keepers” remain silent. The same goes for Premier Eby’s office. The same goes for the Green Party leader’s office.
    This Act seems to be “airbrushed” from Canada. A part of it is lodged at Waterloo University with the faculty of medicine and small bits of the idea is strewn elsewhere across the land but not in anyway to make any real difference.
    All help gratefully welcomed.


  2. We have already have lazy and unethical university students using ChatGPT to create undergraduate papers, usually for large survey courses. Fortunately the pablum created by ChatGPT is so superficial that it doesn’t take long to realize that it is all show and no substance.

    Your ChatGPT created “essay on Democracy” reminds me of the kinds of papers that were standard in history and civics courses in junior secondary and secondary schools fifty years ago. It has the confidence and shallowness of youth throughout.

    If this is the AI future than give me the untidy mix of foolishness tempered by the occasional flashes of insight and brilliance that our species has been creating with pens and paper for lo these many centuries.

    Your understated inclusion of the reference to the 16th century word “bayard” was particularly apt in the circumstances.

    Thank you again Norm for your many contributions to pointing out the dangers confronting our much beloved province.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Asked about ChatGPT, teacher I know says:

      Are you surprised that students cheating and teaching trying to catch them is an arms race?

      My students also don’t have the decency to admit they’re caught when presented with overwhelming evidence.

      I don’t lose sleep too much over students who cheat their way to mediocrity. Especially if it’s a small number of students. There are schools that require students to submit their work through an online “integrity checker.” It flags the document with a percentage of how much is verbatim found online. Some is expected, between quoting papers and the AI being unable to distinguish between two similarly worded phrases, but if the percentage is too high, the student is up the creek. These AI driven writing services will disrupt that though, if they are truly creating new work.


  3. I think that a knowledgeable and involved public, as pointed out by Erik, is essential and the AIs response is a point for the side. ChatGPT doesn’t get into the all important issue of representation of all voters within government. Such as the effort to get proportional representation, and non partisan government.

    I don’t know where AI gets its info, but not having something as much a part of the discussion is similar to having a government minister not noticing large and obvious arguments against what their ministry is doing. All the points made are valid, but can still be insufficient. If an AI is limited in what it can examine for evidence, like the aforementioned Minister, then it is still GI/GO. Garbage.


  4. Randyhadland

    “I don’t know where AI gets its info from..”. For consideration.

    A first step towards toward our digitized lobotomized society is when we moved into our digital devices. As a side note you may remember Jeff Bezos wanted to build the world’s biggest digitized library. I thought the Library of Congress was mentioned.

    The next step currently under way is moving society’s day to day data exchanges to the cloud were these massive storage sites are owned and controlled by AWS, Microsoft, Apple,IBM, Google, Oracle etc. The big boys. Data on desktops or local servers is just not cool. Your data connection needs to be via the cloud.

    Now we need to seed the cloud with data. Were do were get it?

    Us of course. Alexa, Sira, social media and others.

    We interact more and more with digit assistance as the first stop when accessing services via phone or computer. Phone your bank or Best Buy as an example.

    Every time we interact with VA’s that exchange is captured to train the technology. We are the product and software development companies are only too willing to purchase that captured data and incorporate that data into development and enhancement towards ChatGPT or similar platforms.There is no shortage of people choosing careers in this area of data capture development.

    Remember the Alexa activated devices sold at Christmas? Where do you think the data goes? Voice activated features now in the new digitized homes to control the room temperature or your voice activated wifi connected fridge complete with a screen and on and on.

    Education as a data capture candidate and is no different. Students are directed to all kinds of educational portals for learning never mind the data capture taking place there and on social media. All this data which is us is for sale.

    It is all part of the grand scheme to digitize our current society and future generations if we get that far. We might just become redundant at this rate.

    As a side note I avoid the VA interaction as much as I can and avoid the self check outs in the big box retail outlets. Maybe the next step for job killers is to make self check more conversational similar to an exchange with a real person at check out or better yet conversational pedestals at your local park. You get the idea.

    This whole digitizing of our society is attacking the very fabric of what defines us as human beings from a social perspective.

    We seem to be sleep walking along this path and it is not going to end well I fear… George O needs to come back and do a revision.

    “Hi I am your virtual I ca get you to the right party…”


  5. My additional remarks might not be directly on target but are relevant to the broad discussion. Today I spoke with a senior lecturer at the VIU campus. I was trying to edge into a discussion of how education of young minds is so important to the defence of democracy.
    My progress with this lady was painfully slow , something I found troubling considering she is a mature adult and employed to educate young people.
    To spice up the conversation I asked her if she knew the difference between a “REGRESSIVE TAX ” and a “PROGRESSIVE TAX”. Her response was no, it was not in her area of studies.
    After picking myself up off the floor I explained that regressive taxes are where the tax burden disprotionately falls onto the shoulders of those least able to pay and that governments know this but prefer to collect the money.
    Governments are in conflict of interest positions because their tax take is defined by price increases, a cause of some inflation.


  6. From the V-Dem report:

    “While the United States remains a liberal democracy, V-Dem data shows that it is only a fraction away from losing this status after sub- stantial autocratization.”

    “The events on January 6th did not affect the U.S. LDI score (Figure 1). However, liberal democracy remains significantly lower than before Trump came to power. Government misinformation declined last year but did not return to previous levels. Toxic levels of polarization continue to increase. Democracy survives in the United States, but it remains under threat. The events on January 6th did not affect the U.S. LDI score (Figure 1). However, liberal democracy remains significantly lower than before Trump came to power. Government misinformation declined last year but did not return to previous levels. Toxic levels of polarization continue to increase. Democracy survives in the United States, but it remains under threat.”

    The shocking spectre of Marjorie Taylor Greene’s appointment to two House committees, one with oversight of Homeland Security and the other examining the U.S. Covid response will not help end polarization and misinformation in government. Nor will the looming assault of the Orange Ogre’s 2024 bid for a return to the Oval Office. The V-Dem’s next report will no doubt reflect these contributions.

    We are far from immune in Canada, with all levels of government either hiding information or releasing it in messages massaged beyond any useful credibility. The leader of the Official Opposition openly supported our version of the U.S. Jan 6th insurrection and still downplays Covid protection measures. A recent report says 2,800 unnecessary Covid deaths in 2021 alone resulted from such misinformation. These loonies are dangerous.

    Keep your BS detectors finely calibrated folks. The ChatGPT article in response to Norm’s questions says what should be, not what is. It’s up to us to narrow that gap.


  7. when it was reported MTG had been appointed to the two committees, after I got over tIhe shock I started laughing. of course McCarthy appointed her and there was more laughter. A comedy writer couldn’t have made up a script this dumb or funny. One of MTG’s ammendments to a bill was only supported by approx 14 Republicans. If you are going to have a functional democracy you first need to have politicians with at least half a brain. In the Republicans quest for power they have embraced idiots starting with the Tea Party, then Trump and his bunch. Its greed and power and not much more.
    This all takes me back to when I first saw the tapes of the inquizition back in the 1950s into Communists. It was like a gong show. how could politicians be this stupid and act in the manner they did. Made me laugh. Of course they destroyed careers and finally it was over. now there is a new version of the old game. I ought not to laugh too much, Canada has Alberta and Smith.

    Yes, I do expect PP to continue on with his antics and if Canadians vote him into office, they’ll get what they deserve. He just appears to be a nasty bit of business who thinks he is smarter than most.

    Some of these politicians might be better if they did have an artificial brain. On the other hand, computers are only as good as the information put into them. While some are concerned students will use artificial intelligence to cheat, there is an easy way around it. Profs can simply have all students go into the exam room with no cell phones, etc. and start writing the essays which the profs will then have to mark. of course this might make some profs have to work a bit more than usual, but there is a way around cheating

    It is important we retain an active and successful democracy or life will become unpleasant for most of us. Just look at what happened in Chile when Pin head took over. It worked for the elite but the rest not so much. Actually we can look back at our own country. Check how Indigenous People and Asian people were treated in this country and still are to an extent. Children taken away, no right to vote, no right to be a lawyer, doctor, etc.

    We might want to ensure school children learn history, especially what happened during WW II and what lead up to it. For that matter life was not really all that democratic in England or any where prior to the 1960s. In Bob Williams book he writes no one who wasn’t British could not work in the Engineering dept or something similar. That isn’t very democratic at all. Yet when I read it, I recall my Mom say when we were teeenagers or younger actually you couldn’t get a job at Vancouver City Hall if you weren’t British. Democracy in B.C. was based on how British you were. Recall one judge back in the day would believe one Brit over the testimony of 3 non Brits.

    There is that old saying, if you do not learn from history you are bound to repeat it. Some countries never learn. Some people are too blinded by money and power.


  8. CNET, a tech site that had been noted for trusted reviews was acquired in 2020 from ViacomCBS by digital conglomerate Red Ventures’ Media & Technology group.

    Recently, CNET tested AI for content creation. According to The Verge:

    The tool also had a tendency to write sentences that sounded plausible but were incorrect, and it was known to plagiarize language from the sources it was trained on.

    …CNET began publishing AI-generated stories anyway.

    This is 21st century media, where profits matter more than accuracy and fairness.


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