June 26, 1954 (22nd Parliament, 1st Session)


John Angus MacLean

Progressive Conservative

Mr. MacLean:

I find, for instance, that many people who consider themselves fairly well educated have no knowledge as to the various fields of federal, provincial and municipal governments. For instance, they have no knowledge with respect to such a simple question as to what government is responsible for the upkeep of roads or other public works.

It is rather disheartening to realize the little value the average citizen places on his right to exercise his franchise. There are thousands of people in Canada who do not ever bother to vote, and in some cases the ones who do feel that they are doing someone a favour by casting their ballot; that it is something they must be coaxed into or pushed into or even bribed into doing. There are people who believe that the vote is a marketable asset which they try to sell to the highest bidder, if there are any around. I feel that is an unfortunate situation. If our system is to survive, I believe as much as possible should be done to educate, not only the new immigrants coming into the country but our own citizens whose people have been here for generations as to their responsibility. These people should be given an elementary knowledge of our system of government and the importance of the things for which it stands.
Only the other day most of the members of this committee had an opportunity of hearing General Gruenther speak. He said at that time that one of the greatest dangers to our western civilization was the fact that we seem in danger of losing the ideological war. Our western civilization does not seem to know for what it stands. He went on to say that it is not enough to be against communism, we must be for democracy. I agree with that 100 per cent.
I have been pleased to see some excellent booklets which the department put out a year or two ago in this regard. The series covers our land, our history, our government and so forth. I believe they are very good, although I think the particular title for "our government" would be more apt if it were "our system of government".

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