Sunday, November 1, 2009

Contagious Citizenship

What is the nature of citizenship? This is a question I found myself asking this weekend, but to be honest I am not sure why the question came into my head.

I think part of this question comes from the very public reaction to the H1N1 vaccination program underway. Over the past week we have had people across Canada find some way (local papers and radio, Twitter, blogs, interviews, etc.) to get their views known about the government's handling of the vaccination.

I am not going to get into a critique of the program- what I will say is that the people I dealt with in Ottawa were exceptionally good natured and helpful (despite what I am sure had been a full day of chaos and criticism).

What I do think is worth mentioning is how often it takes something which can affect people so personally and which is so non-discriminating to, for want of a better word, inflame public opinion.

You see, every day governments are taking decisions which affect our lives. Sometimes in big ways, and other times in smaller ways. Most often, we don't care or notice. Or, those who do care or notice have some vested interest in the outcome. Where is the average Canadian?

My personal view is that we take a very comfortable and passive approach to citizenship in Canada. For me, citizenship is meant to be active. We are supposed to be engaged and critical on the issues we elect our representatives to opine and decide upon. Too often, however, we sit back and remain uninformed and disengaged.

H1N1 is an example where large numbers of Canadians have views and opinions which they are making know. Why? They want to influence public decision-making. It's a horrible and challenging issue, but our reaction and engagement on it is what we need in Canada from a public policy perspective.

We need to be engaged on all of the issues which affect our lives. We like to point the finger for Canada's problems (or lack of solutions) at our politicians. Are we prepared to point the same finger at ourselves?


1 comment:

  1. Going thru this H1N1 thing with my son now, in Washington DC, of all places! I have found myself dealing in the private sector, where everybody has been amazing, so helpful! (costing my former husband and I a fortune, we are so blessed in Canada, even with the long waiting hours!) Before I got here. In Calgary I tried to go get my shot and it was crazy, the line ups were insane and then they sent me home, they had to close! I believe this mess is a combination of mistakes and truly there is no one to blame but inexperience, we are not used to deal with emergencies like this on a daily basis and we need to learn from it and move on! I also agree that we need as a citizen, your own person, keep informed, do the research, make your own decisions and go from there, and stop blaming everyone else, though I think is in our human nature to do that!.
    Now, I am going to make some chicken soup for my son,he is doing great under the circumstances, but I sure hope is over soon because I hate to see him sick!!


Have a comment?

Canadian Blogosphere