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, June 14, 2009

Electoral Reform, only part of the answer?

Much has been written on the several failed efforts to change the electoral system in Canada, or more correctly in some of its Provinces, it is unclear whether the failure for it to “take” was due to lack of information, lack of desire for change, or simply apathy amongst the voters involved. I will not rehash here what has been said elsewhere about these issues but suggest that we examine why some citizens feel the need to pursue this issue despite the many setbacks and roadblocks.

Perhaps the main incentive is, at least in the view of many citizens myself included, is that the present system is not working on several levels. Under the present winner takes all regime it would seem that on average 60% or more of those that voted are dissatisfied with the result and anywhere from 40% to 50% of those who could vote are so pissed of or uninterested in the result that they don’t even bother. That alone sends up a red flag for democracy for as long time MP David Kilgore said “Democracy demands vigilance, and a willingness to pose difficult questions and to take risks. I do not mean by that only taking to the streets to complain about what is wrong, but also advocating constructive alternatives.” It also demands that we participate!
For me personally, whilst the results might not go my way, I am much more concerned with the accountability of those we elect to those that elect them, the ever decreasing lack of personal integrity when it comes to the taxpayer verses the Party, the ever increasing power of the Party to dictate the “candidates” every move and utterance both before and after election and the seeming inability of the common citizen to do anything about it. It is this feeling of helplessness to affect change that I am convinced is responsible for much of the “why bother to vote” syndrome that we are seeing. I understand that feeling but cannot subscribe to that particular solution, it simply gives those “Political Partys” who’s main focus (in my view) is power for themselves, a free ride. The alternatives are hard choices, none of them particularly good, but better I would submit to you than anarchy!

I suggest to you that the only way to get change “democratically” is to use the voting box to elect INDIVIDUALS who are NOT beholden to a party machine, who are NOT prepared to do and say whatever their leader dictates but who whist they may subscribe to the general party platform of their supporters is in fact a person with his own views and not afraid to voice them. A rare individual indeed in these days of cut throat politics but one that we must both find and encourage if we are to wrest power away from the “Political Party” and put it back in the hands of the citizen. They are out there, there are (or were) a few actually elected, however such strong minded individuals do not do well in the party system that pervades everything that happens in our legislative assembly’s across the country. Do give them you support when you have one representing you, and seek out such candidates for next time if you do not. It matters not which party they represent, they are all power hungry to the determent of our country (some in my view worse than others, but none are innocent.), get some honest individuals who think for themselves not follow like sheep, representing us and perhaps, just perhaps, we have a chance of remaining a democracy to be admired across the world.

Having said all that it should be clear that electoral reform may help us with that a little, perhaps by making more folks feel included and their vote “meaningful”. Perhaps by making the individual a little more important in the election and the party he is associated with a little less. Perhaps by having a more representative mix of MPs or MPPs elected. Perhaps by seeing smaller party’s represented in the legislature and perhaps by this new mix FORCING our representatives to adopt a cooperative stance rater than the current combative one.

It is this last point that I want to dwell upon a little, for it is, in my opinion probably the most important one. All the electoral reform in the world, everybody getting out and voting, more partys represented in the mix, even a better quality of representative will not make one iota of difference if the current “if he said it, it must be wrong, If I say it, it must be right” confrontational, non co-operational, my job is to prove the other guys wrong attitude, remains unchanged. We need a quantum change in attitude from both our representatives and the partys that they purport to represent (damit, they are supposed to be representing us!) before we can wrest what is left of our democratic processes out of the hand of the politicians and their corporate lobbyists and back into the hands of our citizens where it belongs

A note here, our politicians of all partys CAN cooperate when they wish, they recently agreed unanimously upon a change to the way funds transferred from political partys to MPs was reported / handled. It might have even been democratic(if questionable) had they not decided to hold such meetings in secret, pressure the ethics commissioner to not talk about it, and not to bring it before the House to be voted upon. Naturally it was to their advantage to do so, it wouldn’t do for the public to actually know what was going on would it. Not only must changes be made democratically but they must be SEEN to have been made democratically. Our democracy in action, sometimes I too despair! Support Democracy - Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers


Skinny Dipper said...

I suggest to you that the only way to get change “democratically” is to use the voting box to elect INDIVIDUALS who are NOT beholden to a party machine[...]

Been there, done that, don't care, won't be voting next time.

NL-ExPatriate said...

Dream on.

The only way I will ever vote again is if there is a party that advocates a vision for the entire nation versus what we have right now which is POLL-itical parties who call themselves left and right but the truth of the matter is they are nothing more than PROXY parties of the TYRANNY of the MAJORITY in essence Per Capita Colonialism.

canada is the last Westminister parliamentary system that doesn't have a upper house that advocates on behalf of a vision for the nation due to it's equal representation.

Our Senate is nothing more than an extension of the false gods of Left and Right Partisan politics in the HOC who all have the same party line of doing what's in the best i9nterest of the majority of the population to get elected.

Ping Pong POLL-itics perpetuated by our outdated and dysfunctional electoral system of winner takes all and minority provinces are used and abused as if they don't matter.

Cause and Effect doesn't bode well for our federation.

Problem is this dysfunctional political system works for the two principal provinces who make up 66% of the population and as such they don't want it to change or let go of their strangle hold on the minority provincial colonies.

Rural said...

I understand your frustration, I feel the same helplessness my self. My question to you two is this, if not change via the existing system then how? What is the alternative, or do we all give up and let the political partys rule as an unelected dictatorship? Give us another way to enable change in the HoC and the Senate short of rioting in the streets and I will listen to your ideas.

Ms. M said...

I still think voting Green will put us in a better direction (or Independent, if we have that choice). Greens aren't perfect - but I think they sort of understand that we need to straighten up our act democratically in order to get to the business of doing that ecologically. I think. I hope. At least they could give us a starting point - something that no other party will do. I think it's far better to vote Green or Independent than to not vote at all.

NL-ExPatriate said...

It isn't what the parties think or want it is what the majority of the population thinks and wants and since the majority of the population lives in Ontario 106 seats and Quebec with 75 seats out of a possible 308 essentially 2/3 canada will never become a real nation but rather a bastardized Tyranny of the majority population Empire of Upper and Lower canada with all nation parties essentially PROXY governments that redistribute wealth from the minority population provinces to the majority population political power provinces.

It's the system we need to change and by voting you are just lending credence and credibility to a faulty per capita colonialist political system.

No national party will ever get into power on an agenda to do whats in the best interest of the majority of the provinces in this phony federation under this system.

All of the national parties have the same party line of doing whats in the best interest of the majority of the population and since the majority of the population lives in Upper Lower canada due to the cause and effect of our flawed political system nothing will change by voting.

Rural said...

So what you are saying NLXP is that you are opposed to ANY form of representation by population (federally?) but that all areas should have equal representation irregardless of population or for that matter land mass. This would result in just as bad a situation with minority areas dictating to majority as opposed to the opposite situation which I recognize tends to happen, finding a balance is the thing. Rather than rant about the “bastardized Tyranny of the majority population Empire of Upper and Lower Canada” tell us what YOUR solution is. That is what these pages are about. Part of the problem is that our MPs are all too busy protecting their own turf when they SHOULD be thinking about what is good for Canada as a whole!