A blog to give a voice to our concern about the continued erosion of our democratic processes not only within the House of Commons and within our electoral system but also throughout our society. Here you will find articles about the current problems within our parliamentary democracy, about actions both good and bad by our elected representatives, about possible solutions, opinions and debate about the state of democracy in Canada, and about our roles/responsibilities as democratic citizens. We invite your thoughtful and polite comments upon our posts and ask those who wish to post longer articles or share ideas on this subject to submit them for inclusion as a guest post.
Contact us at democracyunderfire@gmail.com

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Fair Representation not coming anytime soon.

But for John Ibbitson's bit in the G&M the demise of the bill to bring just a little more proportional representation to our Canadian parliament would probably gone unnoticed. It seems that ALL our representatives in the HoC, or a least all their party bosses, have decided quietly amongst themselves that bill C12, a bill to bring the number of MPs more closely aligned with population growth will be shelved.
To quote Ibbison “Sources report that the Conservative, Liberal and NDP leadership encountered strong resistance to the bill among Quebec and Maritime MPs, who correctly argued that their regions would have relatively less influence in the House. The Bloc Québécois opposed the legislation from the start.
The Liberals and Conservatives especially feared that passing the bill could harm the electoral prospects of their Quebec MPs. Facing caucus revolts and potential electoral losses, the government shelved the bill.”
In other words who gives a shit about democracy or fair representation when we (the party) may loose a few seats in an already over represented area. What chance then of getting ANY support for the far wider electoral reform that is sorely needed in this country, those now in power along with those who think they may have a chance to regain power will fight tooth and nail to retain the status quo because it serves THEIR interest. When will these folks who are supposed to be representing the best interests of their Constituents and OUR Country start putting those interests before self and Party? Not until they are forced to I suspect.

The imbalance is highlighted by Ibbitson by pointing out some numbers from the recent by-election - “The need for the bill was manifest in Monday’s by-elections. In the exurban Toronto riding of Vaughan, 120,864 voters were entitled to cast ballots. But Winnipeg North has only 51,198 electors, making a vote in Greater Toronto worth less than half the value of a vote in Winnipeg.”

Even worse are these numbers from StageLeft -
Liberal MP Kevin Lamoureux will take his seat in parliament to represent the riding of Winnipeg North after collecting 7,303 of a possible 51,198 votes - that's 14.26% of the electorate.

Conservative MP Julian Fantino will take his seat in Parliament to represent the riding of Vaughan after collecting 19,260 of a possible 120,864 votes - that's 15.94% of the electorate.

Conservative MP Robert Sopuk will take his seat in Parliament to represent the riding of Dauphin--Swan River--Marquette after collecting 8,176 of a possible 53,549 votes - that's 15.27% of the electorate. “

No matter which side of the equation these MPs are on it would seem that they can hardly say that they have the support of their constituents or indeed truly represent the riding from which they come. True, the turn out was pathetic, not that such apathy is uncommon in by-elections, or for that matter general elections. If the question was asked “why do you not vote” I suspect many respondents would say “Because my vote makes no difference, even if the person I vote for wins the 'party' will dictate how he votes anyway, so why bother”!

I maintain (despite that I am one of those minorities whose vote will have less clout should proportional representation ever take hold, a rural resident) that representation that more closely follows the actual wishes of our citizens can do nothing but improve the way in which our democracy works. I will mean a broader range of views will actually see the light of day in parliament, it will mean less of a monopoly of power by the long established partys, it will mean more citizens will feel they have greater control over who gets elected and may even wrest a little power back from those Political Partys who think their way is the highway and everyone else is to be ignored.

Returning to the killing of Bill C12, its not all bad. In these times of fiscal restraint the addition of 30 new MPs would cost us a minimum of 18 to 20 Million a year if we include salaries, pensions, office budgets, allowances and services provided by the House. Its hard to gain any perspective when our government proposes to spend millions on fighter jets designed for war when our search and rescue folks still do not have new helicopters and our navy still does not have any heavy ice breakers to patrol our northern waters. When our prime minister and his ministers have increased their own spending by 16.5%, when Harper's office expenses ballooned to $9,894,370 (Yes, thats almost 10 MILLION in “office expenses”) in 2009, when the Conservative government spent $100 million on polling over the past five years.

It seems to me it is not MORE MPs we need, but BETTER MPs working for the betterment of our citizens rater than the “Party”, representing a more evenly distributed number of citizens and elected in a more representative way!

Support Democracy - Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers

1 comment:

WhigWag said...

Well, it may've just been a trial balloon that was retracted, because the word the very next day was that the Cons. are going to bring this leg. forward after all.


And re: the concern about the cost -- that might be unfair to the people _in_ the under-represented ridings... you're probably overlooking the value of all the REAL work the MPs (or at least their offices) do at the constituency level, sorting out immigration & VISA & EI problems etc., which are 'way more prevalent in those large underrepresented ridings. I.e., the smaller & rural ridings are not only getting twice as much Parliamentary rep. for their (non-)votes, but twice as much access to or twice as speedy results on their indiv. constituent's concerns, where the fast growing riding are getting ripped off.