Democracy and the Rule of Law

Lesson Three: What is Liberal Democracy

Students will combine their understanding of democracy with their understanding of liberalism. This will establish the idea of liberal democracy.

1. Review the concept of reason, discussedin Lesson Two.

• Do people always act with reason?

2. To establish the value of reason in democratic decision-making, distribute and read the handout Defining Liberal Democracy.

• How do the principles of liberalism help ensure that in a democracy, the majority gets its way but the minority has its say?

3. Discuss with or have students research major changes that have taken place in Canadian society. Ideas could include the introduction of universal health care, the legalisation of marijuana, women achieving the right to vote, or the legalisation of same-sex marriage. For each change, have students ask:

How did the values and processes of liberal democracy (ie: freedom of expression, freedom of worship, and freedom of the press, along with orderly processes to create laws) help make these changes happen?

4. In Chapters on Socialism, John Stuart Mill wrote:

The future of mankind will be gravely imperiled, if great questions are left to be fought over between ignorant change and ignorant opposition to change.

Discuss this quote. How can we constructively participate in public discussions?

Case Study
5. Liberal Democracy and the Rise of Naziism explores how the values of liberal democracy fell apart in 1930s Germany.

Further Exploration
6. Teachers wishing to explore the ways that Canadians can influence and change our laws and institutions should check out Lesson 6: Democracy in Action in Municipalities Matter.

7. Teachers wishing to explore radical change in societies should check out The PLEA: Revolution.

Defining Liberal Democracy


The Rise of Naziism

Case Study