11 December 2016

Reforming Democracy

I visited mydemocracy.ca to see what they were up to, I have issues with much of it starting with this: "MyDemocracy.ca is an initiative developed by a team of social and statistical scientists from Vox Pop Labs in collaboration with the Government of Canada and an academic advisory panel comprised of experts in both electoral politics and research methodology."

Oh goody. Academics were consulted. Because there is no stupid like academic stupid.

I went through the quiz. I couldn't honestly answer much of it. The questions seemed to be bother leading and loaded. It seems to me that the question are aimed at generating an opinion more than discovering one. The questions on the whole assume that Canada is ruled by parties, not elected representatives. For example:

Question 3: "There should be parties in Parliament that represent the views of all Canadians, even if some are radical or extreme."

Question 4: "A party that wins the most seats in an election should still have to compromise with other parties, even if it means reconsidering some of its policies."

Question11: "It is better for several parties to have to govern together than for one party to make all the decisions in government, even if it takes longer for government to get things done."

Question12: "Governments should have to negotiate their policy decisions with other parties in Parliament, even if it is less clear who is accountable for the resulting policy."

Question 16 at least admits that parties are made up of members: "Members of Parliament should always support the position of their party, even if it means going against the wishes of their constituents."

Question 18 is the inverse of 16: "Members of Parliament should always act in the interests of their constituents, even if it means going against their own party."

All of these questions assume that the government is run by parties. This may be true, but that is not how the system is set up. The people are supposed to be voting for their representative, not a party. The various ridings across the country pick the person whom they believe would be the best one to advise the Crown on the governance of Canada. That is how the system was designed to work.

However, over time, and increasingly in recent years, power is getting centralized in the parties and particularly in the party leaders. More and more, rather than asking Canadians to elect their representatives, the parties, as embodied in their leaders, are asking for Canadians to vote for their representatives. In other words, the candidates are not there to represent us in Ottawa, but to represent their leaders/parties to us. They are no longer our proxies, but the proxies of the party. Voters do not debate the virtues of their candidates, for whom they may vote, but of the party leaders, for whom only a few may vote.  The situation reached a point that some years ago elections Canada began including the names of the arty along with the names of the candidates on the ballots, because people apparently neither knew nor cared who their candidates were.

As far as I am concerned, this is a disaster that needs to be fixed. But this questionnaire does not aim to fix this problem. Instead, it carves this aberration in stone.

The last few questions are head scratchers: What could they possibly propose to ensure these?

Question 19: "There should be greater diversity of opinion in Parliament."

Question 20: "Ensuring that more individuals are elected from groups that are currently underrepresented in Parliament should be a top priority."

And how will they enforce democratically elected diversity? At this point, the questionnaire seems mostly concerned with getting Canadians to tick boxes, one way or another.

Then propositions started coming up. I could only look at proposition one, and, since I couldn't answer it, they wouldn't let me see the others: "Which would you prefer: A government where one party governs and can make decisions on its own OR a government where several parties have to collectively agree before a decision is made?"

That question describes a majority government and a minority government, respectively. They are the two options of every election. The questions should read "which *do* you prefer" rather than insinuate that this is some sort of new thing. Furthermore, we are back to parties, and the question seems loaded to the second option more than the first.

I found the questionnaire to be deceptive and misleading, flawed in its assumptions, and damnable in its attempts to influence opinion over seeking to discern it.

Besides, there was no question that allowed me to answer according to variations of their opinions, never my true opinion, which runs like this: The best reform would be returning to the roots and using the system as it was meant to be used. If there were ever to come a time when we returned to electing our representatives, rather than a party's representatives, then maybe I'd consider looking into electoral reform. But this just solidifies the hold of the parties and the mess they have made of our system.

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