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.
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Sunday, March 4, 2018

Democratic Renewal

Recently Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne, Progressive Conservative interim leader Vic Fedeli, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, and Green Leader Mike Schreiner recently gathered at Ryerson University to discuss - not to debate - the need for democratic renewal . Moderated by the Star’s Queen’s Park columnist, Martin Regg Cohn the forum focused on the urgent need to better engage young people.
In the last two elections, barely half of Ontarians bothered to cast a ballot — an embarrassing 48 per cent voted in 2011, and a dispiriting 51 per cent turned out in 2014.
They were the worst showings by civic no-shows in our democratic history. And far worse turnouts than in any other provincial or federal election ever.
The Green’s Schreiner told more than 300 people at the George Vari Engineering and Computing Centre
Who do we blame for disengagement? I think the media, politicians, and the way we conduct politics has to share in some of the blame,”.“I am deeply concerned about our civil discourse in terms of how we refer to voters. Think about some of the media tropes that are out there,” “We talk about ‘taxpayers’ a lot as if we’re only ‘taxpayers,’ or we talk as if voters are there to harvest votes, or that we’re consumers of government services, rather than actually talking about people as citizens.” interim leader Vic Fedeli said it’s no wonder young people don’t vote because the electoral process is so antiquated.
Progressive Conservative interim leader Vic Fedeli said it’s no wonder young people don’t vote because the electoral process is so antiquated.
You have to get to a voting place. You’re either going to take transit or drive a car and park or get there somehow, walk. You’re going to go to a building you’ve probably never been to before. You’re going to get in a line with people you’ve never met before — a long line in some cases — you’re going to finally get up there, bring out paper ID and register,” he said. “You’re going to be handed a ballot. You’ll get in a cardboard box and there’s a pencil and you’re going to fill out your ballot and hand it to somebody who is going to put it in another box,” “The way you actually work is not reflected in the way our government system has you voting. You’re not reflected in that. You work with tablets and electronic voting. The way you work is completely different than the way our system is set up.”
An aside here.... as I have said on these pages before I am no great fan of the 'Conservative' mindset, at least as it currently exists in both Federal and Ontario politics. I am however somewhat disappointed that Mr Fedeli is only 'interim leader' for he seems to be the only one of those currently involved in the conservative leadership fiasco with the experience and skills to actually move the party forward in a positive way. Perhaps the current total cfk will bring about a positive change eventually but I an not holding my breath!
Moving on......
Wagging our fingers won’t help. Making people feel guilty won’t make them vote.
What will it take to revive the democratic impulse at a time when the pulse is especially weak? The polling by Campaign Research provides interesting clues:
  • The biggest single reason people don’t vote — cited by more than one-third of all Ontarians — is they believe they can’t, because they are somehow not registered. This finding cries out for targeted information from the media, electoral authorities, political parties, and activist groups.
  • Mandatory voting is the law in Australia, but remains a long shot here — Ontarians are evenly split on fines for those who don’t cast ballots. Nearly two-thirds of those born outside Canada support compulsory voting, their sense of civic duty and democratic engagement could be harnessed with greater outreach.
  • Better campaign platforms and information are also the top reasons cited by voters for what would make them more likely to participate. Bottom of the list: electoral reform, cited by only 1 per cent in the survey.
My own thoughts on this as I eye up the choices that will soon be presented to us here in Ontario is that perhaps if we had a better selection of both candidates and party platforms (not that you can believe anything they say during an election period) then perhaps more folks would bother to make a choice! As always the delema of whether to vote for the individual, the party they run under or the platform that party presents further adds to the difficulty, often leading to the wish for a 'Non of the above' choice at the ballot box. Certainly making sure our youth and more recent citizens are aware of their voting rights and how to register and vote as well as a much simpler and less archaic system would also go a long way to improve the turnout.

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Lorne said...

I caught part of the discussion, Rural, and I thought Horwath (who I have no respect for) made a good point when she said this confusion over whether one is registered to vote could be reduced if we went back to enumerating voters, a process that apparently ceased in 1997.

I have to say that Regg Cohn's article really hit me and has made me rethink a strategy I was leaning toward for the next election: declining my ballot, something I have never done in my life. Like you, I am profoundly disappointed in the quality of our choices. At this point, all I know is that I will not be voting Liberal, thanks to Wynne's betrayal of all Ontarians by selling off 60% of Hydro One.

As well, Rick Salutin had a very interesting piece on this in Friday's Star:

Rural said...

I agree that selling off Hydro One was totally wrong, Lorne. As for who to vote for, or if to vote at all, the jury is still out at this end!!