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, April 1, 2012

Electoral and Parliamentary Reform (Final)


Over the last 5 weeks I have outlined some of the possibilities and challenges surrounding changes to our Electoral system and briefly touched upon some of the issues surrounding Parliamentary and Senate rules and modernization. It seems to me that Canada is dragging its heels in this regard when compared with several other commonwealth democracy’s, the oft cited New Zealand's new proportional system has been in place for some years now and even Great Britain, the home of our parliamentary system, recently had a (failed) referendum to change to the AV way of voting. Such changes, or calls for change, however seem to be brought about where there are coalition or minority government situations where the ruling party must cooperate with minority partys to retain power. I believe the same situation exists here in Canada and only in such situations will any effort to consider reform move forward. As has been seen if the regime in power is fundamentally opposed to any move that may reduce their chances of bending the rules to their own advantage and the opposition is not convinced that a majority of the public are in favor of such a possibility it will not happen even then.

Much the same goes for Parliamentary reform, whilst the opposition may cry and whine about the government of the day bending the rules, hiding information, suspending parliament for political advantage, limiting debate and forcing partisan voting they do little to propose changes that would limit these actions. Not only did many of those previously in power do nothing when they had the opportunity, but should they regain power all the promises for change will evaporate in favor of the status quot. Only immense and ongoing public pressure will bring about change and far too many of our citizens either are unaware of the diminishment of democracy taking place that only an upgrading of our voting and parliamentary rules will stop, or they just dont care and believe the daily spin from the current regime that 'all is well, there are no problems'.

Perhaps the only good thing that may arise out of the successful attempt to steal our last election and the belated but ongoing investigation is that more citizens will wake up to what is going on and become advocates for change. If nothing else Elections Canada should be given additional powers and resources to ensure that our electoral system is as free as possible from corruption, however they too have had their budget cut in the recent rather selective move to reduce the increasing expenditures.

Andrew Irvine has an interesting piece in the Ottawa Citizen this morning about why “quick fixes” like electronic voting or proportional representation aren’t likely to improve the sorry state of Canadian democracy. In linking to Andrews column the Sixth Estate makes the point that “The first problem at this point is enforcement. There is no point encouraging greater participation in a system where what few laws exist go routinely unenforced.”

Bottom line, if you are waiting for ANY move towards Electoral or Parliamentary reform to actually take place don’t hold your breath, I see little hope of ANY substantial movement on this front for many years....... unless the public become so pissed off that political partys are forced to include such issues in their platforms and then actually follow through on them. Add to that the very valid points that the above articles make and its hardy an optimistic outlook for democracy in Canada.
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