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, March 29, 2015

Samara’s Democracy 360 Report

Samara, the Canadian Democracy Measurement folks have just released their latest report on the state of our democracy and its not good! This is no surprise to those of us who have been taking notice but with generally 40% or less giving any time to even discuss political issues with anybody (online or in person) it would seem that the majority don’t even care.

The following are a few extracts from their report “Samara’s Democracy 360, a report card on the state of Canada’s democracy” (260K PDF)

“Only 31% of Canadians believe politics affects them every day.
Only 37% give any time or resources to formal political activities between elections.
A surprising number (39%) say they haven’t had a single political conversation—online or offline—in a year-long period. With a federal voter turnout of 61%, Canada ranks in the bottom fifth among democracies, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development”

“Canadians gave MPs failing grades in all but one area: representing their parties’ views (57%). This percentage is notably higher than the grades they received for representing constituents (45%) or holding government to account (42%).they reserve their lowest marks for parties’ performance in reaching out to Canadians to hear their views (42%).
Only 40% of Canadians report that they trust MPs to do what is right and only 42% of Canadians place some trust in political parties.
Canadians give MPs and political parties failing grades on nearly all their responsibilities, ranging from reaching out to citizens to their work in Parliament. Overall, Canadians feel MPs do a better job representing the views of the party than
they do representing their constituents....... only 40% of Canadians report that they
trust their MPs to do what is right. Political parties fare no better: only 42% of Canadians report trusting them.”

“Even for a very accessible form of participation—talking about politics both online or in person—a large number of Canadians (39%) report never having had a single political conversation in a year-long period.
Particularly troublesome is that this declining turnout is driven almost entirely by young Canadians (aged 18 to 24), who vote at almost half the rate (39%) as Canadians aged 65 to 74 (75%)”

“MPs have the tools to speak to Canadians and they use them, but whether they do so successfully is more difficult to ascertain; Canadians’ low trust levels suggest there is room for improvement. For example, when social media is used more often to broadcast a message, rather than gather input or exchange views, it misses a chance to engage.”
In earlier interviews Samara says that “MPs also report being stymied by their own parties, which prevents them from doing the job they initially sought. It’s clear that in order to restore the trust of those who elect them, party leaders and MPs should work
towards more balanced relationships—relationships that enable MPs to better fulfill their jobs as representatives.”

And therein lays the biggest problem in my opinion, until such time as our 'representatives' can actually represent US not their party then democracy will continue its downward slide. In their report Samara puts it this way:-

Canada’s democracy is now like a slow leak when it rains. It’s easy to
ignore a pesky leak, but if left until the damage becomes severe or a
storm rages, the problem will become more difficult and expensive to
Perhaps more than difficult but all but impossible once the roof falls in, and particularly troubling with the Harper Regime constantly picking at the hole and increasing the leak!

If there is one thing we can take away from this report it is that getting the younger citizen to "get involoved", if only to the point of voting, is essential for the survival of our democracy. Unfortunatly it is these young folk who will reap the results of their disinterest in what remains of our country's democratic system.

If you have not done so already I urge you to read Samara's various reports going back several years, its scary stuff but their objective research and resulting conclusions paint a clear picture of where our democracy is headed. You may wish to view some of my earlier posts featuring their work here.

Also see The Democracy 360 Numbers, a companion to the report, describing all 23 indicators of a healthy representative democracy, offering a rich resource of data for media and any interested citizens.

Support Democracy - Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers


Owen Gray said...

As always, Rural, the future is in the hands of the young -- and their compassionate elders.

Lorne said...

Hiding behind the fiction of 'representative government,' those who serve their party's interests before those of their constituents always say that their mandate lies in the fact that their party was elected to form the government, and hence were given the confidence of the people. This, of course, is patent nonsense, Rural, and only when people realize they have power if sufficient numbers show their engagement will we see any improvement in Canadian democracy.

Rural said...

As you say Lorne, we do not elect a Party but individual MPs however due to the corrupt way in which the main parties have limited the ability of those MPs to to work for US rather than their party things are not working as they should. Only massive public engagement in repairing the system will reverse this trend.
Owen, that is so true, let us hope it is in good hands!

Unknown said...

We will have engineered our own destruction Rural if we keep Harper and his regime in power. Ultimately it is Canadian apathy that will have allowed our democracy to be destroyed.

Rural said...

And we have only a few months to wake them up Pamela........