Canadians Take to Streets in Massive Protest against Wage Controls, Toronto, Ontario, 14 October 1976.
National Archives of Canada (PA-126362, photo by Mike Emre).

Canadians Take to Streets in Massive Protest against Wage Controls, Toronto, Ontario, 14 October 1976.

This group of demonstrators is exercising its democratic rights to assemble and to protest against what it considers to be an unfair government policy. In democratic countries, such as Canada, citizens are not only allowed to vote in elections, but to openly criticize governments and politicians.

Canadians have chosen to build a system of government that is based on the will of the people. Our citizens have the right to vote for a person to represent them in provincial legislatures and in the federal House of Commons. They also have the right to seek election for those positions. If a citizen can convince a majority of the electors in a riding of his or her fitness for office, he or she can participate in the day-to-day governing of the country. A government, provincial or federal, has to have the confidence of the majority of such elected members in order to achieve and maintain power. No government can stay in office for more than five years before all of the members of the legislature have to seek re-election. Thus, the people only loan the power to make decisions to politicians. They always remain the ultimate authority, even if they only exercise their power every few years.

Although similar democratic systems have been gaining in popularity throughout the world in recent years, many countries remain under the rule of authoritarian governments. Citizens of such states have no opportunity to vote on their government, no right to run for office, and no legal means of replacing their government if it is unpopular.

Corbis (Image ID: TL009508). Available online at Peter Turnley, [16 February 2000].

Pro-democracy Protests, Tianemen Square, Beijing, China, 4 May 1989.

Chinese soldiers move in on protesters, primarily young students, who are staging a pro-democracy rally. The Chinese government ultimately ruthlessly crushed the demonstrations because it perceived the pro-democracy movement as a threat to the regime.

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