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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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

An Abuse of Power

Last Sunday an open letter signed by about 400 Ontario legal professionals was sent to Attorney General Caroline Mulroney asking that she not support the use of the Constitution's notwithstanding clause.
"We, the undersigned members of the legal community, are writing this open letter to you because your office is assigned to champion and safeguard the fundamental principles of the rule of law and due process in Ontario, and the rights of the people,"

The published version of the letter containing which among other things calls for support for a proportional voting system can be read at the CanadianDimention web site. It recognizes that “it would be fruitless to demand that the Ford Conservative government reverse its actions” as said Regime simply is not willing to listen. A partial extract follows :-
We, the undersigned group of scholars and teachers, deplore the autocratic and arbitrary reduction of ward representation for Toronto city council contained in Bill 5 being rushed through the Ontario Legislature by the just-elected Doug Ford-led Conservative provincial government.
There are numerous problems with this initiative – both in terms of policy and process – that cannot be squared with democratic values or procedures.

As policy, reducing the number of city councilors will not make for better representation or government or cost reductions for the city, as the Ford government claims. Indeed, as we saw with a similar cynical reduction of MPPs by a previous Conservative government, reducing the number of politicians did not lead to any cost savings, but merely shifted where money was spent in a poor and half-hearted attempt to respond to constituent demands, and had the effect of weakening local influence and centralizing more power at Queen’s Park and the Premier’s Office.

As policy, reducing the number of city councilors will weaken the democratic representation and advocacy roles so crucial to local government. Fewer wards mean that many more people will be trying to get the attention of fewer politicians. Far from increasing accountability, this will have the effect of insulating politicians from public pressure as bigger wards mean increased costs to run for office and politicians that will be indebted to those who can fund their campaigns. Meanwhile, local citizens will find it much harder to organize a grassroots campaign in these larger wards.

As policy, reducing the number of city councilors will make it harder to have a council that truly reflects the economic and social diversity of the city, as all research on representation shows that winner take all voting systems combined with large riding sizes tend to benefit the most established and powerful groups in society (i.e. wealthy white males) and fail to reflect the class, gender, ethnic and racial diversity of the community.

As process, it is conventional to signal the desirability of such reforms in the campaign period for provincial office, rather than announcing it after the election when voters now have no ability to consider it in casting their vote.

As process, it is conventional to take input on such proposed changes from the institutional representatives and voters that will be affected by the changes and develop an interactive policy approach that operates on realistic timelines to gain, respond, and act on such input, rather than ram through arbitrary changes just months before they need to be put into practice.

As process, it is conventional for governments elected under the first-past-the-post electoral system, particularly those that have gained a majority of seats but only a minority of the popular vote, to act with caution in taking up divisive policy issues, especially when such issues touch on the democratic rules of the game themselves. To radically alter the representational structure of another level of government, without warning and without input from said government or its electorate, is clearly an abuse of the power that the first-past-the-post voting system grants to legislative majority governments.

Full letter and signatures here.
The 'free vote' later this week will clearly show which of our provincial 'representatives' support democracy and which support the Ford dictatorship.

Support Democracy - Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers


Owen Gray said...

Unfortunately, Rural, Mr. Ford believes that we elect kings in this country.

Rural said...

Unfortunately we do not deal with rogue kings in the same way as they were dealt with in the middle ages Owen!