The NDP's proportional representation petition and Canadian democracy

Canadian democracy is in a sad state, we are going to have to do some serious repair work on the government (the institution, not just the current one) before we can really fix much of anything else. Somehow I was still somewhat irritated by the NDP's "Demand That Your Vote Count" petition.

First I've begun to suspect that most online petitions are really designed to gather mailing lists and little more. It is an easy way to generate a list of people who support a particular cause or issue, then later you can hit those people up for donations or support in an election.

I've also noticed that it is parties who are not in power who tend to push hard for electoral reform. Stephen Harper, both as the leader of the "Reform" party and as the supreme commander of the current Conservative party ran on electoral reform. He was going to make government more democratic, allow more free votes, reform the senate, and make government more open and transparent.

Instead Harper made the government less open and transparent than it has ever been. He rewarded his friends, punished his enemies and has done all he could to silence his critics and that is really all he has done while in office. During his time in office Harper has actually made the government more authoritarian and less democratic.

Our current government is a quasi-dictatorship, but our entire system of government is broken and all our political parties and all of their leaders know it is broken.

We need to put in place a government that will:

  • Fix the way we elect parliament, and I believe that preferential balloting or a ranked voting system is better than proportional representation. 
  • Fix the senate: proportional representation might be the way to go with the senate, as opposed to the NDP suggestion that it be abolished altogether. There are few enough checks and balances in the current system as it is (as Harper has demonstrated). 
  • Make all levels of government more open and transparent and make it much, much more difficult for government to keep anything secret. 
  • Ensure greater independence for MPs. They should be allowed a free vote on every issue and only a vote of their caucus should be able to remove them from that caucus, not the whim of the party leader. 
  • Change the way we deal with first nations. They are supposed to be autonomous, but we right now we "consult" with them, but ultimately do whatever we want to regardless of their input. It's really no different than the way we "consulted" with them 100 years ago. 
  • Restore the independent bureaucracy. 
  • We need to restore the public campaign financing that Harper cut and severely limit private and organizational contributions. 
  • and we need to restore the federal funding to legal aid that Harper cut so that poor people have better access to the legal system. 

All of that, at least, would be a good start.

We need to get every federal party in the next election to commit to a serious overhaul of our democracy. I know that the NDP has pushed for proportional representation before, but seeing them bring it back with an online petition now that they are consistently polling 3rd again federally is more frustrating than anything else.

And yes, ultimately, I signed it.
Next Post »