The Illegitimate Child of Elections

Elections must be Fair

Elections must be Fair

As public confidence declines representation becomes bastardized (lower in condition or worth).

Voter turnout has declined from 79% of registered voters in 1958/1962 to 61% in 2011 with only 25% of youth(under25) casting a ballot.

Couple the 61% voter turnout with the 40% of turnout required to form a majority government means that only 24% of the population at most is represented by the political party in control of the administration of government. Is this a true mandate? Do 24% of the people actually have the authority to enact their legislation over the other 76%?

In Canada, yes they do! That is the law. Is it right? No!

Is it democratically correct? That is the debate.

Regardless of the voting method used to elect the government, be it FPTP, STV, PR or any other, without voter confidence in who is elected, true representation is limited at best. Unless those in government represent the majority of the electorate, can it be called democracy? Has the government have legitimacy?

Parliamentary Reform and the House of Commons

there is a broader concern about an apparent long-term decline in public confidence in politicians and political institutions. This trend was most recently documented in a report from the Minister for Democratic Reform, released on 10 September 2007. Based on extensive public consultations, the report identifies mistrust of members of Parliament (MPs) and frustration with the operation of the House of Commons as widespread attitudes. Perhaps reflecting this trend, voter participation in federal elections has declined from the levels of 75% to 80% typical of the 1950s and 1960s, to 61.5% in the 2004 election, for example, and 64.7% in 2006. Moreover, political engagement by young Canadians has fallen to extremely low levels from a traditional 50% voter participation rate to around 25% in recent elections. These figures have led to concern about an impending legitimacy crisis relating to Parliament and politics.

Canada needs to regain trust in government. People need to trust their representatives. Our representatives, Members of Parliament and Members of Legislative Assemblies, need to be accountable to those whom they represent.

Canada needs Make Your Member of Parliament Accountable, MYMPA.

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Politics, the Bad Name in Government

Politics

Politics – it is not a game

Because they Get Away with It! And we let them.

Over the last several Government administrations, the Prime Minister’s Office, PMO, has been usurping many of the checks and balances within Canada’s Parliament to the point where there is a definite deficit to democracy itself. The huge bureaucracy subsequent Prime Ministers have added within their powers is exceedingly costly both in dollars and in lack of democratic procedures. This unfettered rule over Parliament has eroded the trust the people of Canada have in our elected institutions. Time after time politicians from all parties and stripes have railed against the exorbitant powers of the PMO but, through the years and several administrations no attempts to curtail the PMO have been introduced. For years all parties, Liberals, Conservatives, NDP and Greens, have with all vehement denunciation promised change but, for years none has come.

Within every party platform is almost identical suggestions of reform yet, the atrocity remains. Why? All political parties are mutually obcessed with the power and the ability to put forward their own brand of partisan policy. They are all under the delusion that they gain election points for promises of reform. Politicians, our elected MPs, are under the authority of their respected party and all realize that without the political capital within their party they are reduced to near nobodies and virtually unable to be re-elected. That is what democracy in Canada is up against. That is how low democracy in Canada has come.

Politics Serve Politicians, Not Canadians

…..And we’re aware that you want some kind of independent arbitrator for elections and democracy. But we are taking these actions because we believe that, despite all you say, you don’t care enough to take it out on us. We’ll get away with it and you’ll just move on.”

This is a slap in the face of every citizen in this country, but some people in power are banking on the hunch that we’ll just shrug and walk away. If they turn out to be right, then soldiers and electoral officers alike are going to start wondering what kind of democracy they were protecting anyway.

This government is banking on the reality that we don’t have the courage, the dedication for a long struggle, or even the will to raise our collective voice. These present actions might well put one of the last nails in the coffin of citizen engagement or will resurrect it. It all depends of whether we care enough for our defenders in the battlefields and the ballot boxes. If we don’t rise up, they lose and all that arrogance will have won the day.

Show Your Courage! Raise your collective voice!
Make Your Member of Parliament Responsible, MYMPA, can change politics in Canada.

Ottawa, We Have a Problem!

Parliament must be Fair

Parliament must be Democratic

Reform Never Happens

The Fair Elections Act proves one basic truth of Parliament. All attempts to improve or reform the House, the Senate or elections, only leads to making matters worse. When interviewed, Parliamentarians will spiel off a litany of wrongs along with ways to amend procedures. In 2003, the Library of Parliament conducted a survey of MPs called, “The Parliament We Want“. In over 12 years since not a single recommendation has seen the light of legislation. Why? Political Parties do not want change. Political Parties and their Politics have such a hold over Parliament, The House of Commons, the Senate and Elections, that Members of Parliament are not permitted to speak to the concerns of their constituents. And that is not democratic – that is a problem!

Reform was the reason the Conservatives were elected, what happened? All their motions either died on the floor or like the Fair Elections Act is no reform at all. The Liberals and NDP had near 6 years of minority government prior to 2011, what reforms did they propose? Nil, Nada, Nothing! NDP say they endorse Proportional Representation. Why then have they never brought the matter before the House? The Liberals, after 2011 election made a lot of noise over PR, now that they may form the government in 2015, Justin Trudeau has abandoned the notion.

We, the Canadian electorate, may have only one shot at bringing about reform to Parliament and elections and it won’t come via any particular party. Canada needs a contract between Members of Parliament and their Constituency. As of now, Candidates for election are under contract to their riding associations, hence, to the party. They are required to do the party bidding. We need to change that. MPs must be accountable to their constituents first, not the party.

 

Limit PMO Power

Limit Power of the Prime Minister's Office

Limit Power of the Prime Minister’s Office


Too much power in the Prime Minister’s Office
Nowhere in all the western world’s democracies has a Head of Government extracted so much power that he/she may overrule the elected assembly. No other democracy would concede the degree of control over the elected body such as been given the Prime Minister of Canada. Not in the USA, not in any European states nor Great Britain itself from which Canada inherited our Parliamentary system. This injustice has become so ingrained that a culture of corruption threads itself throughout the whole administration to where permissiveness has become a detrimental component of our political landscape.

The Prime Minister of Canada has almost dictatorial authority over Parliament from; choice of election candidates, to choice of cabinet, to size of cabinet, to Parliamentary schedules. The PM is able to compound non-related legislation, limit debate, appoint committees, appoint the Senate. At the Prime Ministers discretion he controls government advertising and the releasing government information -and the list can go on.

Over the last several Government administrations, the Prime Minister’s Office, PMO, has been usurping many of the checks and balances within Canada’s Parliament to the point where there is a definite deficit to democracy itself. The huge bureaucracy subsequent Prime Ministers have added within their powers is exceedingly costly both in dollars and in lack of democratic procedures. This unfettered rule over Parliament has eroded the trust the people of Canada have in our elected institutions. Time after time politicians from all parties and stripes have rallied against the exorbitant powers of the PMO but, through the years and several administrations no attempts to curtail the PMO have been introduced. For years all parties, Liberals, Conservatives, NDP and Greens, have with all vehement denunciation promised change but, in all those years no change has come.

When Parliamentarians won’t initiate the changes needed, then the voters must. Canada needs change.

Canada needs MYMPA

Games – Political Games

Politics

Politics – it is not a game

and the winner is ……?
Fair Elections is the main discussion in politics this year. The election in 2015, although most likely over a year away at the time of writing this piece, underlies almost every conversation, legislation and procedure in Parliament with all political parties trying to gain one-upmanship upon the other. The newly introduced Fair Elections Act does near nothing to promote “Fairer Elections”. Many might argue that the bill sets democracy back.

and the loser is: the People of Canada? Once Again!

Regardless of the spin politicians spew out over the media, that is all it is, political spin, meant to be impressive but, in service to the public, – nothing – nada – zip.

A MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT IS ACCOUNTABLE TO HIS OR HER CONSTITUENTS NOT TO PARTY LEADERSHIP
Brent Rathgeber, December 19, 2013

The seat does not belong to the Party and the Member of Parliament is not the equivalent of a delegate to the US Electoral College (though the parties would like to make them so).

Members of Parliament, Voters, and Democracy in the Canadian House of Commons Dr. Bill Cross (pdf)

If general elections do not provide an opportunity for voters to pass judgment on the views and performance of their MP (and her opponents), then there is little guarantee that members will use any increased power they may garner in the House of Commons to reflect the views of their constituents. Similarly, a party’s leadership is unlikely to cede authority to back bench members who lack a policy mandate from their constituents. The real dilemma then is not the role of the MP in the House of Commons, though this is certainly part of it, but rather the lack of opportunity for voters to first empower and then pass judgment on the job done by their MP. One way to rectify this problem is through reform of our electoral and parliamentary systems to allow voters to cast different votes for their preferred representative and preferred government.

When candidates are chosen by the party leadership and not local voters, it is impossible to argue that they have any mandate from their local voters separate from the party leadership. Similarly, when the governing party ensures the easy renomination of its incumbents, it provides little incentive for them to vigorously defend their constituents’ interests in their House of Commons’ work. Their renomination is automatic and their general election chances lie almost completely with voters’ views of their party’s performance and not with an evaluation of the job of the individual MP.

Constituency Parliaments: Connecting MPs to the constituency Samara

Latest suggestion for Redesigning Parliament to make it more relevant to Canadians: create a citizen-engaging deliberative body to advise and direct individual MPs. Vaughan Lyon, Professor Emeritus at Trent University outlines his idea for Constituency Parliaments to formalize the connection between MP and constituents, allow the MP to be truly representative and reduce the power of the party.

We can do just that, a Contract between Members of Parliament and their constituency

Who Do You Serve?

Democracy Above All Else.

We can not let it be diminished

It shall not be diminished

The one defining essential of democracy is the collective will of the nation. For that one needs discernment. Without the ability to evaluate and be considerate of the common interest, how can one represent. Government exists for the interests of the governed, not for those who govern. Sovereignty, the power to rule, is invested in the people, that is democracy. Those who have been duly elected to rule are the servants to the people by whom they were elected.

The fundamental duty of those elected is to improve and maintain the equality, rights and freedoms of those they serve. To be of service is to practice helpful activity, to make fit for use, to supply with assistance, to provide the means for necessities or services. For that one needs to be humble. He/she without humility cannot effectively serve.

To be of service is to be a humanitarian. One must be committed to finding common ground, to building peace, to advocating for the rights of all and advancing human freedom. To be a member of government is to lead, support, and collaborate within a broad network of efforts, ideas, and organizations that seek a common vision for a nation and further more, a world free of conflict and injustice.

Chrystia Freeland, member for Toronto Centre states:

“…. there really is a cultural, social, political and even moral choice we need to make together about what kind of public arena we want to have.”

Not wanting to be cynical but, most politicians are not in politics for the right reasons and are strictly in government on the back of their political party. To be fair, most are good and meaningful individuals who have now found themselves in collusion with a dysfunctional political system. The question voters must ask each candidate for political office, “Who are you in politics to serve?

Bad Apple Syndrome

Political Party – the neighborhood gang!

Politics

Politics – it is not a game

Most all politicians in both Parliament or provincial Legislatures are well-meaning, honest, hardworking and conscientious individuals. Many have interrupted a far more profitable career to become involved in politics with the expectations of making a difference for the better. Why then, the mistrust, disbelief, doubt, suspicion, disenchantment, nonconfidence and skepticism by so many Canadians.

The Bad Apple Syndrome: “It is well-known that negative interactions have a bigger impact than positive ones, and that people tend to remember a person’s bad qualities more vividly than their good ones.” These observations were included in a recent Wall Street Journal Story entitled, “How a Few Bad Apples Ruin Everything.”

Is overall distrust the result of the “one bad apple”? Or collective bad apples? The public’s main access to politics is through the media. Whenever an issue in parliament or Legislature takes place the media at first covers the story with controversy. It is controversy that grabs the headlines. It is conflict that sells the news. It is the lie that becomes the story. The bad apple violates norms of equity, positive affect, and proper social functioning. The public very seldom have opportunity to see the work that is done away from the camera or reporter. Very few subscribe to politicians’ news letters.

Why have politicians allowed the adversarial aspect of politics win the day? Why do caring and considerate men and women band together to heckle and belittle a “rivals” message? Why do honest and reliable men and women cheer and pound their desks in response to a co-members pre-written party line? Which all to often is misleading and deceitful. Why is lying in Parliament allowed with little consequence. Why has bullying become the norm for the party in power?

It is very akin to the crowds children get mixed in with. Throw any group of kids together and they will always be reduced to the lowest common denominator, the bad apple factor or syndrome. Obviously there is no difference with adults, even the more learned ones.

What brings on the “Bad Apple” factor? The political party. That must maintain one voice, one message that stifles individual creativity and cooperative brainstorming resulting in serious implications for productivity. The same factor which limits the prospects of reaching the most honest, fair and appropriate legislation. All the while thousands are being turned off politics, turned off voting.

The “Bad Apples” gain the publicity wars therefore high levels of public skepticism may be here to stay. Democracy continues to suffer more and more. Only parliamentarians themselves can change the perception, but, they need the nudge. That is the reason for MYMPA. Become a member.

If parliamentarians won’t – the public must!