March 20, 2010

Canada - A Representative, Electoral Democracy

It's true; Canada is a representative democracy where representatives, federal Members of Parliament (MPs) and Members of Provincial Parliament (MPPs) are chosen by the people. Seriously flawed as this process is (in that the public is largely not represented since a true majority is not required, rather, it is only the largest proportion of votes to a given contender for a riding/seat that goes to the provincial or federal capital) it is the system with which we are burdened ... and I don't believe a better one has, yet, been presented. So what's my beef?

In the context of this commentary it is not that Canadians have been denied true representation by ignoring the need to deliver some form of proportionality. Neither is it that an appointed body (the senate) stands in the way of a just decision making process ... one that should be governed by those elected to lead rather than those appointed as favour by clearly partisan forces. It is not even that one province, Quebec, is given special favour in the form of disproportionate representation based on something so absurd as the language their parents spoke. It is that the wrong people are represented.

Based on my own experience; I have never met a politician who, when in disagreement with me as a constituent did not say I did not understand. There is, it seems, so little I have been able to understand it makes me wonder how I made it through kindergarten. I have yet to meet a politician who doesn't staunchly defend the specious stance that (s)he is an independent thinker who represents their constituents ... who speaks their own mind.

In fact, it is rare that a politician, a representative of a specific community, is not told how to vote on any particular issue. It is rare that a politician is given, by the party leader, "free rein" to vote their concience - to truly represent their constituents. Doesn't this mean that these representatives, chosen and paid, by virtue of taxation, by their constituents; represent the wrong people?

It seems to me that elected representatives represent their party leaders in their constituencies rather than representing their constituents in their respective capitals. The fact that representatives can be removed by a leader for speaking their minds (while they have little, if any, accountability to their constituents for the veracity of their pre-electoral "promises"), that representatives expend their energies explaining the governments decisions to the public rather than fighting AND voting for their constituents' views in spite of party leadership, and that they are expected to toe the party line regardless of the nature of their constituencies belies the claim to representation of the people who elect them.

Well, even Prime Minister Stephen Harper agrees with me:

So there you have it - the prefect example! Jean-Pierre Blackburn, duly elected and paid by the people of Jonquière-Alma, is Harper's employee - not that of the people who chose him to represent them ... and pay his salary.

The contention that Canadians have representation in the nation's capital (Ottawa) or in their respective provincial capitals is a bald-faced lie!

Addendum: Sun Media's Parliamentary Bureau Chief, Kathleen Harris, reported that Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff also agrees with me that MPs work for their party leader - not for their constituents. It was reported that "... he will force his caucus members to toe the party line or face discipline on a private member's bill to scrap the controversial [long gun] registry." Duly elected Liberal MPs, Scott Andrews (Avalon) Larry Bagnell (Yukon), Jean-Claude D'Amours (Madawaska-Restigouche), Wayne Easter (Malpeque), Keith Martin (Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca), Anthony Rota (Nipissing-Timiskaming), Todd Russell (Labrador) and Scott Simms (Bonavista-Grand Falls-Gander-Windsor), will be forced to vote against their concience and the will of their constituents in favour of their party leader.
On that same date, CBC News reported that Bagnell said "... he does not want to support the long-gun registry but he might be forced to do so by his own boss, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff." It is clear that even those elected and paid by the Canadian people recognize they do not work for those that "hire" them. While chosen and paid by their constituents they, in fact, work for (and represent) their masters - the party elite."
April 21, 2010

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