Thursday, 24 March 2011

Democracy Election

While thousands worldwide sacrifice their lives for the right to free elections Canadians complain about having one.

That is not to say there are no reasons for some Canadians not to want an election. Certainly if you support the Reformatories you have it pretty good right now. With a minority in the House of Commons (and an even smaller minority of public support) they have control of the government with a majority opposition that lets them govern as if they have a majority. On the other hand if you voted for the opposition parties you twice elected a majority of Members of Parliament (representing a majority of the public) that has refused to exercise the democratic power the people gave them and lets the Reformatories govern as if they represented the majority. So what is the point of doing it again.

If there is going to be another election it must be about democracy and bringing the government back under the control of the majority of the House of Commons and establishing a more democratic electoral and governing process.

If the opposition parties are going to force can election they must pledge to form a government that represents a majority of the House of Commons and a majority of voters.

Why are they so scared to say that. Just because Stephen Harper thinks the concept of the majority of the legislature governing, as it does in the vast majority of western democratic countries, is illegitimate does not mean the opposition parties should accept that absurdity. Coalition is not a dirty word. Political parties and Members of Parliament actually co-operating to provide a democratic majority government is a good thing. It is certainly better and more democratic than the current tyranny of the minority that currently governs this country.

Perhaps the voters are collectively smarter than we give them credit for and have discovered that the concentration of power in any one party, no matter who it may be, may actually be bad for democracy. If the people want power to be spread amongst many parties rather than concentrated within one that is their democratic right and it is the responsibility of the political parties to co-operate and provide the people with the government they have chosen.

But we need more than just regime change.

I call upon all political parties and candidates that consider themselves to be progressive (and that can include Members of parties that have removed progressive from their name) to pledge to join together after the election in a democratic coalition pledged to improve democracy in Canada.

The number one priority of such a government should be to establish a more democratic electoral and governing process in Canada.

The first thing such a government should do is initiate the Parliamentary processes, including public consultations, to consider and implement the following measures, along with others that they decide are necessary, to improve democracy in Canada:

- eliminate the use of government advertising for promoting government polices and restrict it to information on how to access government programs and benefits

- ensure the independence of all Officers of Parliament, including the Chief Electoral Officer

- ensure and increase the House of Commons right to and ability to access government information, including provisions for access to confidential and classified information on an in camera basis

- establish a fixed election date every four years with the House being dissolved earlier only when a government cannot be formed that has the support of a majority of the House of Commons (to be effective after the next election)

- strengthen measures to ensure the fairness of elections so that financial resources, rather than individual capabilities and policies, do not determine the outcome of elections

- reform the electoral process into a more representative and democratic process where the number of seats a party has represents the number of votes they receive nation wide, while retaining constituency representation, paying particular attention to the systems of proportional representation used in western European countries
Following the implementation of these measures the government should then resign to allow a new election to be held under the new more democratic and representative electoral process and such an election should include a referendum on whether voters want the Senate to be abolished or reformed.

Establishing real democracy in Canada only takes, what sometimes seems to be the rarest of all things, political will. Do we, as politicians, voters, and a nation, have it.

4 comments:

Lorne said...

I like all of your suggestions except for the last one, calling for an election following the full implementation of the reforms.

The problem is that as much as your proposals are directed toward enhancing the democratic health of Canada, adopting them would mean a proportional diminishment of a government's ability to manipulate the system to protect and enhance its political fortunes.

Even if a government were working towards implementation of those measures, wouldn't they feel the need to 'rag the puck' as long as possible, since having to call an election would not necessarily work in their best interests?

Scott said...

I think the only way we'll see an agreement to move towards any form of proportional representation will be if a coalition government is formed.

The UK is a good example of this; since our system is quite similar, the success of their PR system coming to a vote (I believe in May) could spur on a stronger movement here to follow suit.

Tit for Tat said...

Isnt one of the hallmarks of our society the freedom to choose. And doesnt that choice include not voting? I pretty much find all the party leaders nauseating. Why would I want to vote if I respect none of them?

rww said...

"I pretty much find all the party leaders nauseating. Why would I want to vote if I respect none of them?"

Because, unless you live in their constituency you do not vote for the party leaders, you vote for a local candidate.

So pick the best candidate and vote for him or her.

If more people did that we might end up with a better House of Commons.