Thoughts from one Disillusioned Canadian Voter

Special contribution by I. Aagaard

Today I discussed the upcoming federal election with a friend of mine. We talked about the growing voter apathy and bounced around possible reasons for this most serious problem.

I am in the wine business, so taking a quick look at our current political parties and their leaders and compare them to common wine defects is just too much of a temptation to resist, so here goes:

Stephen Harper and the Conservatives remind me of  Rotten Eggs (wine fault H2S). Their term is up and it’s time to discard the lot.

Michael Ignatieff and the Liberals. Well, they share common traits with the wine fault Mercaptan, i.e. they project a very unpleasant odour of cooked cabbage or burnt rubber.  Unless they quickly find a way to remove the unpleasant compound by airing some truly new and exciting ideas and visions they, too, should be discarded.

Jack Layton and the NDP share traits with a wine that’s “Corked”, i.e. they have that same musty, mouldy smell. Jack just can’t seem to come up with anything new. Pity, because that deficiency might just end up keeping him bottled up!

So, it seems to me that we need a new party – the K.I.S.S. Party. The premise, as the name suggests, is to “Keep It Simple Stupid”. This party would be comprised of people who can communicate a  platform and vision for the country (vision is very important) in simple, easy-to-understand terms. That way the average voter might actually understand the issues and the impact they have on us. Anyone who starts or runs for such a party would certainly get my vote and, I suspect, that of many other disillusioned Canadians.

Honesty, integrity and the ability to keep promises made are MUST HAVE qualities and of paramount importance for being a member of the K.I.S.S. Party. As such, lawyers and economists would not be welcome as members of this party. They only convolute matters and make everything seem much too complicated. I suspect this is a trick they use to build ‘job security’. After all, if we, the average voter, cannot understand what they are really saying, how can we challenge them! Also, it would be more desirable to have fewer lawyers and economists in office in favour of more ordinary people (women?). The current electoral system and bureaucratic set-up seem to strongly work against that happening any day soon.

So, taking the discussion a step further, it seems to me that ONLY IF or WHEN our politicians can bring the issues down to earth and communicate to us, the electorate, in simple, easy-to-understand language, might we actually manage to connect and become more interested in both elections and issues. As it stands now, I suspect a lot of people either don’t understand or they feel disconnected from it all. Too removed and frightfully dis-empowered!

A new electoral system, e.g. some variation of Proportional Representation,  would make each vote more valuable and meaningful. We should have a system where each vote actually counts for something. Our current system First Past The Post, is flawed to the point of allowing a majority government on much less than 50% voter support. Wherein lies the democracy, I ask? Would it not be more democratic and fair if smaller parties, the Green Party being a case in point, were given equal opportunities of electing members to parliament and playing a role in forming coalition governments? Such governments have worked for years in many other democratic countries, especially around Europe. What are we afraid of here?

Such a scenario would also force the parties to work together in the interest of all Canadians. As it is now, I cannot help but feel there is too much partisanship at play, too much power in the PMO and too little true democracy.

For what they are worth, those are my thoughts on the political picture we are faced with. I know some readers will say that what I am proposing is totally unrealistic. I say to all of you: We can dream, can’t we? And work to make dreams come true!

Advertisements

About Golden Wave Movement Canada

The Golden Wave Movement is a made up of engaged individuals who have serious concerns about the increasing challenges retirees surviving on modest pension incomes face nowadays. While our main purpose is to raise awareness of the financial difficulties faced by this vulnerable group of citizens, we also intend to raise awareness regarding challenges related to their physical, emotional and psychological well-being.
This entry was posted in Elections Canada, Electoral System, Federal Election 2011, First Past The Post, Proportional Representation and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Thoughts from one Disillusioned Canadian Voter

  1. JohnF says:

    Sorry but I disagree that we should consider Proportional Representation. This system usually ends up being a convoluted system and can thwart the passing of important legislation. Let us go back to the year of the October Crisis and how that was handled by PM Trudeau. While there are some who criticized Trudeau’s actions the alternative would be countless arguments, discussions and grandstanding during that crisis. We needed prompt and decisive action. If we had to deal with so many coalition parties things would have dragged out, and tragically possible more people would have been killed during the October Crisis. All political systems are flawed… some infinitely worse than others. Perhaps what we need is some sort of hybrid of the systems

    Like

  2. JBN says:

    Seems that you are very passionate about the Proportional Representation voting system but I am not. All politicians pander to the voters during elections but we get a different story once they assume power. It is about the right ‘sound bites’ and making promises that they know they can’t keep. And those promises are couched in language that appeals to those who only care about what affects them personally and not ordinary Canadians. That option wastes politicians’ time and energy which could be put to better use on other critical issues. What I have learned is that irrespective of the political system in place you NEVER TRUST POLITICIANS !!! And, yes, despite the great flaws of the existing system we citizens must participate in the democratic process and go out and cast our vote. We have to do our homework and not be influenced by the biased stuff in the media.

    Like

    • The 'Gendarme' says:

      I have some questions — Assuming that this ‘coalition which does not exist’ as some claim but actually gains power in Ottawa after the election then how would Gilles Duceppe and this PR system would work since he is an avowed separatist? To give him his due, much of what he say on social and economic issues seem well-thought out and make sense. But, mightn’t he somehow use PR as a means to eventually separate Quebec from Canada ? Or are we going to end up with a weird “hybrid of a hybrid “ of a political system?

      Like

  3. Greg says:

    Proportion Representation appears to be a more attractive voting system than First Past The Post as it seems to be more inclusive. It is also popular in many other democracies as voters believe that their votes will really count. But this system has some major flaws. Frequently a single party does not have power and must depend on coalitions to get legislation passed. This invariably is very time consuming system hence doesn’t always work efficiently. Look at what happened in Italy in the past couple of decades ….. lots of instability and conflicts in parliament and Italy has had a revolving door of governments, corruption and were forced to dissolve their parliament seven times in the past 40 years. While some smaller parties have a chance of participating in government and giving voice to issues impacting certain groups it also allows extremist parties to gain a foothold in a nation and become very effective in polarizing communities. Many of these extremist parties promote intolerance and sink to the lowest common denominator to spread their narrow agenda. They create bad feelings and hostilities within communities. With proportional representation there is seldom any real consensus as important legislation often gets watered down to appease so many coalition members with differing views….

    Like

    • Russ says:

      Italy certainly is not the best example of how PR should work. Even worse are Taiwan and South Korea … don’t you recall those images on TV where MPs were scuffling and punching each other during a parliamentary session when disagreeing about some thing or other!
      🙂

      Like

  4. Grahame Spence says:

    As some steps in the right direction, I suggest the following:
    1. If a party doesn’t win a seat in the House of Commons but picks up a large number of votes countrywide, then it should be awarded a seat for, say, every 500000 votes it gets.

    2. Quite a number of ridings are ‘strongholds’ and always return the same party. This might induce a certain complacency on the part of the incumbent. The election law should require that during a campaign, each riding hold at least one public meeting attended by all candidates. The punishment for non-attendance of a candidate would be removal from the ballot! Thus all candidates would have to face questions from each other and the public.

    3. Bye elections must be held not more than 2 months following a seat becoming vacant.

    Like

    • Ryan D. says:

      Why are there so many objections to PR? Is it because PR might rattle the elite power structure that is in place in countries that have FPTP? PR is not an easy electoral system to understand or implement but it is a much fairer system. PR allows more citizens an opportunity to have a voice in the democratic process. So one of the best outcomes of this system is that voter apathy is dramatically decreased and we will have greater participation in the democratic process by citizens across the board.
      Check this link for a detailed explanation: http://www.worldpolicy.org/globalrights/democracy/abcs.html

      Like

    • Degroot says:

      Grahame – I like your suggestions of how PR could be implemented. Yours is a very structured approach, has a genuine democratic feel and might reduce voter apathy. It also has an accountability component …..and checks and balances. The challenge will be how to educate Canadians on this electoral system so that they accept it.

      Like

  5. Spunkymum says:

    YES!
    What you are talking about is actually some (modified) version of Proportional Representation.
    If smaller parties had a realistic chance at gaining seats in Parliament then voters might actually become more engaged, realising their vote would matter more.
    As long as we are stuck with only the Liberals or the Conservatives as realistic parties to govern we’ll remain stuck in the same old reel. Not healthy — and definitely not democratic!

    Like

  6. Aussie Sheila says:

    What about doing things the Australian way? In Australia voting in elections is compulsory if you are 18 years or older. And you had better have a valid reason for not voting as it is a legal offence not to vote. But … once you are in the ballot box no one knows if you even bothered to put your ‘X’ against any of the candidates. Since your vote is secret all you have to do is go to the voting booth with your ballot, leave it blank or write nonsense on it, then fold it and put it in the ballot box. The upshot is that if a candidate wants to be elected he/she would have to be credible when presenting policies and must address thorny issues in a way that appeals the electorate.

    Like

  7. Robbie says:

    On the topic of low voter turnout …. since voters who are not born in Canada are required to ‘study’ to be granted Canadian citizenship, why aren’t all Canadians (new Canadians and longtime Canadians) required to ‘study’ to be granted the right to vote? In a thriving democracy the right to vote is one of the most important civic activities a citizen undertakes. What percent of voters would “qualify” after their studies?
    I would hazard a guess that it would be a lot lot less than the 40% of citizens who actually vote nowadays.

    Like

  8. June Macdonald says:

    “I know some readers will say that what I am proposing is totally unrealistic. I say to all of you: We can dream, can’t we? And work to make dreams come true! ”

    What the writer calls a dream, the citizens of the majority of the worlds’ democracies experience because the majority of the World’s democracies use some sort of proportional representation.

    It is been around Europe for over a hundred years. It is not flaky or unstable or undemocratic. PR is designed for multi-party countries –we are trying to run our country on a system for 2 parties and it just does not fit. It is making our system unstable with more elections than almost any other democracy.

    We blame everything for this situation but we ignore the elephant in the room–we need a proportional system. It is long past the time when we joined the rest of the democracies and get rid of our dysfunctional system, First Past the Post, that no new country choses for their new voting system

    Like

  9. Tom says:

    PR seems to be more democratic as it would give a voice to all. Sure hope though that this PR system does not allow those Canadians who admire or embrace the ideas of those ‘tea party nutters’ south of the border to infiltrate Ottawa with their narrow mindedness, insensitivity and downright whacko republican views to gain a foothold here. We sure don’t need or want that kind of thing here to have our sovereignty compromised. We must put Canada first.

    Like

  10. Spunkymum says:

    More parties? Perhaps – perhaps not! Then again, one or two more options at the ballot box might not be such a bad idea, as long as they present a truly different agenda and set of ideologies, and meet a certain threshold, etc.
    My main point really is that our current system of First Past The Post (FPTP) is not democratic. How so? Well, often it results in people voting strategically, i.e. they’ll vote for the party with the best chance at either ousting or keeping out whoever they do not want in power. Thet vote does not necessarily reflect their own ideology or even priorities. And for those who still vote for the party they truly associate themselves with, especially if it’s a smaller party (e.g. Green?), their vote is basically wasted as only the party that comes “first past the post” benefits from the votes collected.
    How often during elections have we heard/seen of candidates that won with way less than 50% of the vote?
    Imagine this: Conservative candidate in riding “X” wins with 38% of the votes cast. So, 62% of voters in that riding voted effectively for nothing by dividing their votes among the Liberal, NDP, BQ, and Green Parties.
    At least with some form of Proportional Representation (PR), those 62% would still see their vote count for something. Much more democratic, I suggest!

    Like

Comments are closed.