Jim Travers, 1948-2011

Toronto Star columnist Jim Travers passed away yesterday at the age of 62 and after nearly 40 years in journalism. Last year, Mr. Travers won the National Newspaper Award for political writing after penning a lament and clarion call for Canadian democracy. His words then are only more vital now.

If mad-as-hell voters can take back a riding, as they did in Vancouver by rejecting Emerson’s adopted party, then surely MPs can recapture control of Parliament. It’s possible, too, that ministers, bureaucrats and police officers can be forcefully reminded that their public duty is to the people, not to politicians. Even prime ministers can be told they are not monarchs.

Appealing as it sounds, advocacy requires effort. It’s so much easier to go with the flow, to let situational democracy evolve with each reflex, stopgap, jerry-rigged response to every new policy demand and political threat. But that leads away from accountability and toward the Big Man culture that Africa is finally throwing off and has no place in Canada.

If war is too serious to leave to generals, then surely democracy is too important to delegate to politicians.

The Toronto Star and Ottawa Citizen mark his contributions to each. Tributes were paid yesterday by Stephen Harper, Michael IgnatieffSusan Delacourt, Don Newman, Mark KennedyBob RaeGlen PearsonJohn Baird and Pat Martin.