Posts Tagged ‘Tony Clement’
Canadians are often admonished by the media for “voter apathy.”
In every election, the media complains about the high percentage of Canadians who don’t vote.
So why don’t Canadians vote?
Independent Canadian Journalist/Blogger Jason Koblovsky pointed to this excellent Parliament of Canada article:
Youth Voter Turnout in Canada – 2. Reasons for the Decline and Efforts to Increase Participation which provides both background and basic understanding of the “voter apathy” problem.
Voter apathy is not confined to the young.
This problem has spread through all of Canada. One powerful reason many Canadians, both young and old, feel disenfranchised by the system, is that:
“…many voters doubt that voting every four years
can truly influence the decision-making process …”
Why don’t Canadians think we can make a difference?
It begins with our First-Past-the-Post electoral system. We have electoral ridings where a mere 29% of the vote garners a plurality win. So although 29% has never been a passing grade at school, it is apparently enough to promote candidates into lawmakers. Inequities in the system leave too far many citizens without any voice at all in government. To learn more about electoral reform, visit the Fairvote Canada site and give their Fairvote Calculator a spin.
Because left to themselves, neither Liberal or Conservative parties are likely to enact electoral reform.
Why would they wish to alter the system that has, until now, allowed them to take turns ruling Canada?
Our Members of Parliament are supposed to represent us – and look out for our best interests – in Parliament.
Currently, there are enough citizens in each riding that if the elected Member of Parliament did nothing but meet constituents 40 hours a week for 50 weeks a year, they would only be able to give each a few minutes of their time.
But they don’t. Our elected Members of Parliament are in Ottawa for some of the year, making the laws that govern our lives. And most people never seek out their MP unless they have a problem. Which is a good thing, because there really is not enough time in a year for an MP to talk to every voter.
That’s why it is so important for constituents to have an opportunity to see the candidates who seek to represent them.
41st Election Campaign
Now that we are in the midst of an election, candidates are canvassing door-to-door. It’s one of those folksy things designed to make politicians appear more accessible.
I know they’re canvassing because many of them are “tweeting” about canvassing on Twitter. In fact, former Conservative Minster of Industry, Tony Clement, recently tweeted that he was engaged in friendly rivalry with the NDP candidate who was canvassing the very same street.
Which got me thinking. I mean, seriously, if there isn’t enough time to speak to everyone they represent in the course of a year, how can they possibly manage it during the few weeks of an election? If most Canadians never get a candidate at their door during a campaign, why would a Conservative and NDP candidate end up canvassing the same street at the same time in the same election?
Clearly, candidates have to decide where to canvass. Are they are targeting the same areas? And where are politicians going door to door? In nice neighborhoods, of course.
In my entire life, I’ve actually only had candidates at my door twice, once for a municipal election and once federal.
Can it be that they only canvass the “better” neighborhoods? A friend of mine was surprised to learn there is any door-to-door canvassing at all. He lives in the densely populated urban setting of my riding, in what is a residential mix ranging from single family dwellings to townhouses, low rises and high rises, with some subsidized housing on the side. You couldn’t ask for a better cross section of society. Talk about the electorate in microcosm.
But he assumed that they didn’t do that anymore since he has never had a politician at his door.
Can it really be that door-to-door canvassing only happens in rich neighborhoods? If that is true, is it any wonder that citizens who do not live in expensive neighborhoods feel disenfranchised?
How the 41st Election is being run: close to home
More than 115,00 citizens reside in the geographically huge Kitchener-Conestoga riding which combines three far flung rural townships with the densely populated southwestern part of the city of Kitchener. What that means is this riding includes many of the very poorest citizens of Waterloo Region, including the unemployed, immigrants, students and the disabled, alongside young families starting out as inexpensively as possible. At the same time the riding includes some of the region’s very richest citizens who reside in multi-million dollar homes situated in the surrounding townships.
This calendar provides information about 41st election events in Waterloo region. The first Kitchener-Conestoga all-candidates meeting took place in the tiny town of St. Agatha, a geographic location not served by public transit. And of course, this event happened at the start of the campaign so the newly minted Green Party candidate, Albert Ashley, wasn’t able to attend. In other words it wasn’t really an “all candidates” meeting.
A second all-candidates meeting was scheduled for in Elmira, another venue not served by public transit.
Well, if you wanted to arrive well before the meeting began, you could have attended, but Grand River Transit daily service concluded before the meeting actually began at 7pm, so you wouldn’t have been able to get home.
So. The ONLY “all candidates” meetings in this riding were held in out of the way venues inaccessible to public transit.
Only citizens with cars are included in the electoral process. #FAIL
If Canadians were to vote for the candidates we want to elect instead of the candidates that strategic voting advocates convince us we have to vote for (and who are, in fact, the candidates the advocates support) we would see real change.
Canadians have long been told that majority government is a good thing. Yet, in practice majority government has the power to ignore citizens, so in reality majority government is only good for the winner (and their friends).
We are told elections are expensive, yet even if we held elections annually it would be far cheaper than the patronage that always happens with a majority government.
We are told that votes for the Green Party of Canada or the New Democratic Party are wasted, ineffectual because they can’t form a national government. Yet these two parties are fielding candidates across the entire country. This means Canada has four parties able to send enough candidates to Ottawa to form a majority government for #elxn41.
We are told that votes for small new parties or independent candidates are also wasted votes. Any party incapable of forming a national government is supposed to be a waste. Tell that to the Bloc Québécois. Ostensibly formed to lead Quebec separation from Canada, the BQ party has championed the rights of Quebec’s citizens at the federal level.
When we elect any candidates they are capable of giving citizens a voice in Ottawa (and even more so should there be a coalition government.) The Universal Health Care that Canadians value so much would never have come about but for just such a “fringe” party.
It is implied that only the Liberal Party of Canada and the Conservative Party of Canada are capable of governing because of their experience, taking turns. They have taken turns governing this country all along. Yet if we look closely, we can see that they are not the same. John Diefenbaker’s Conservative Party (the party that pulled the plug on the AVRO Arrow, and incidentally Canada’s aerospace industry) was very different from Brian Mulroney’s Progressive Conservative Party (the party that gave us the GST, with the bulk of tax funds collected going into bureaucracy needed to administer it) and is in turn very different from Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party (itself a coalition made up from the merger of the Reform Party with the remnants of the PC Party).
Supporting the alternating Liberal and Conservative parties has put Canada in the position we occupy today. We’ve gone from a nation of early adopters of digital innovation to a nation barely treading water in a digital world. Past Liberal and Conservative governments are equally culpable in allowing the erosion of Canada’s digital economy through favoring corporate special interests at the expense of Canadians. Governments the world over have shown a woeful inability to understand crucial digital issues, and ours is no different. That’s why the Pirate Party of Canada came into existence – to fight to safeguard Canada’s digital future.
Polls are treated as though their results are factual, and they tell us who will be elected before a single vote is cast. If polls were 100% accurate why do we need to hold an election? A small sampling, polls are far from a foregone conclusion. At worst, a poll can be slanted to misrepresent the situation, but even at best a poll is akin to an educated guess. A poll is not fact, but a survey.
All of these misconceptions are promoted vigorously by the mainstream media. It is very important to realize that mainstream media is anything but unbiased. The mainstream media has its own agenda, which does not reflect the best interests of citizens, but rather the needs of the corporations. (TV tax, Fox News North, Canadian DMCA, UBB… )
The mainstream media berating Canadians for low voter turnout has contributed directly to it through its propagation of misinformation.
While we worry about two tier health care we suffer from two tier democracy. Certainly the two problems are connected.
And a great many Canadians do not usually vote.
Instead of reaching out to voters who don’t ordinarily vote, it appears that today’s political parties only bother with the usual suspects.
Instead of reaching out to the disenfranchised, they attempt to change minds that are already made up for the most part.
As far as the Conservative and Liberal parties are concerned, they have only each other to beat. That’s why they like our seriously broken political system, and will certainly never enact electoral reform. After all, as Charlie Sheen says, they are #winning.
But are they really? I don’t think so.
Canadians are increasingly disgruntled.
We are generally becoming more politically aware than we have been for a long time because of the failures of our government. Participation in Politics looks at the way technology is giving citizens the means to have our voices heard. Canadian politics are in such disarray that the disenfranchised aren’t waiting anymore to be invited to participate in democracy.
The amount of anger on display in the streets at last year’s at last year’s no-prorogation rallies was palpable. And a great many of these citizens had never even marked an x on a ballot. But social media and the Internet have given us ways to communicate and mobilize as never before.
The fact that the “all candidates” meetings are drawing bigger crowds than expected is telling.
In an effort to attract students to voting, Elections Canada have been allowing campus polling stations to make it easier for students to vote. The Conservative Party attempted to have the votes cast at the University of Guelph polling station discounted but failed.
Anything is possible.
The results of the last election is old news… history. What happened in the last election has no bearing on this one, unless we choose to learn from it.
No one has been elected for the 41st Parliament.
Every job position sits vacant, and it’s up to Canadians to decide who will fill them.
Canadian voices *can* be heard. Go Canada!
Original photographs by laurelrusswurm released under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0) License
I am happy that the writ was dropped before Bill C-32 was passed.
Is that a bad thing?
Of course it mans we have another federal election.
Copyright Reform Apathy
Not so long ago, Jesse Brown did a Search Engine podcast called So Bored of Copyright. He wasn’t alone in thinking that Bill C-32 was likely to be pushed through no matter how atrocious simply because everyone is tired of arguing about copyright. The thinking, shared by many other Canadian activists was that our elected representatives just want it to be over. I understand how difficult it is to fight the same fight over and over again. But still, there was a disturbing willingness to settle for bad law just because everyone is tired of it.
Copyright law will impact on every Canadian. Our existing copyright law may not be perfect, but it isn’t as though we are a lawless nation of pirates, no mater what the USTR says to get a trade advantage. So I’m happy Bill C-32 is off the table, even if it does mean we’re having another Federal election. And I’m sure it will be back, but the longer it takes, there is less chance that we’ll end up with a copyright law benefitting special interest groups to the detriment of Canadian Culture.
Some people are tired of elections.
We’re having them too frequently, apparently.
Yet there are places in the world where there are no elections. Or where the election results are preordained.
Other people are unhappy because elections are expensive.
If we have a minority government, it stands to reason that we will have more elections. It is much harder to run a minority government because the government can’t operate in a vacuum. They have to build a consensus. And sometimes even listen to what the citizens want. And if they want to do something that the people think ill advised, we have some possibility of preventing it.
Then some people think majority government is a good thing. Talk about an expensive proposition.
Say what you want, our run of minority governments has meant very little in the way of patronage spending. While majority governments are always awash in patronage. That’s got to be worse.
Even with a minority our federal government managed to find a billion dollars for the G20.
Can you imagine? How many fighter jets would we have bought if there was a majority government? Wait a minute… fighter jets? Excuse me? If we want fighter jets, why don’t we build our own, shall we? You know, like the AVRO Arrow?
Citizens can’t afford NOT to have elections. We need as many as it takes.
I’ve heard some people are saying they will vote for the Conservative Party of Canada just to give them a majority, just to be done with this election business.
You know what?
If you want to vote for a political party you don’t support, that is your democratic right.
You can use your vote to improve this great nation of ours, or you can waste your vote. You get to decide.
You can vote for the candidate you believe will do the best job for you, or you can vote the way someone else tells you to vote. It is entirely up to you.
You can vote strategically and vote for someone you don’t want to elect. It seems to me that strategic voting is always about voting for someone else;s candidate, never your own. That seems to me just as big a waste. But still, it is your right to choose.
You can spoil your ballot, which won’t count. Or not cast a vote at all.
A great many of us are frustrated because we’ve been ignored for so long. Many of us have given up because the people we vote for are never elected. In the Conservative stronghold where I live, Liberal candidate Andrew Telegdi lost his seat in the last Federal election by 17 votes. And one of the most powerful members of the incumbent government “tweeted”:
The thing to remember is that when we abstain from voting, our voice, however small, is completely unheard. Abstaining from voting doesn’t “teach them a lesson,” it gives them our power. It makes it easier for fewer people to determine our government. All voter apathy does is to make electoral inequity worse.
You have the right not vote. But every vote not cast means that fewer votes hold greater sway. I am well aware Canadian votes count for more or less depending on geographical location. That’s bad enough. If you, like me, live in a place where your vote only counts for a fraction, blowing it off makes it worse. What government does affects all of us.
Debate and Democracy
This election will impact on us all too. Although we are desperately in need of electoral reform, we have to do the best we can with what we’ve got. So although it is your right to vote or not, I hope you decide to vote, and more, to vote the way you believe is best.
I’ve been trying to get the final proof of my novel done, so I’m spread a bit thin. Still, there’s been a flap about the proposed televised Federal Leadership Debate. The decision (by who?) has been made to exclude Green Party Leader Elizabeth May.
The story they are trying to sell is that her exclusion stems from the fact no Green party member has yet been elected. Naturally this speaks to the issue of Electoral reform, since nearly a million Canadian citizens cast Green votes in the last election without electing one.
The thing is, we might have bought that argument had Elizabeth May not participated in just such a debate in a previous election. Excluding her now is not only grossly unfair, but a sign of just how well she did last time.
Unlike our American Neighbors, Canada is a multi-party country. So long as our nation subscribes to party politics, I’m inclined to think that any leadership debate ought to include the leaders of every registered political party. The point of an election is that the slate is wiped clean. No one has been elected yet for the 41st Parliament. So all the candidates – and leaders – ought to be treated as equals. I’m sure that former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney would be happy to tell you what a difference an election can make.
It is in our own best interests to stand up for our democracy. The leader of Canada’s fledgling Pirate Party hit the nail on the head when he tweeted:
I don’t know about you, but as inefficient as our system is, and as badly as we need electoral reform, I’m rather partial to democracy.
And elections are a really good time to get out there and find out what the candidates think.
Or at least what they say.
Andrew Telegdi photo by Chris Slothouber
Tony Clement, Twitter account image (fair dealing)
Elizabeth May photo by Grant Neufeld, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.5 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.5) License
All political logos reproduced as fair dealing.
All other images created by laurelrusswurm and released CC by-sa
On Friday the Globe and Mail Newspaper broke a story about an independent network of rural Canadians citizens who have formed The Peace River Internet Society, essentially setting themselves up as their own ISP, providing themselves and their community local high speed service since none of the corporate ISPs are willing to. The profits are plowed back into the operation to pay for the really hard to reach customers.
It has applied to use a higher-quality piece of wireless spectrum, one that will allow it to offer faster connections that won’t be affected by interference from run-of-the-mill wireless devices like garage door openers, as its current service does.
The all Canadian group of all Canadian residents was turned down after jumping through a variety of Ministry of Industry hoops for not being Canadian.
I have two questions.
#1. Who makes up the rules?
How could these criteria possibly exist in the first place?
#2. How could a decision like this possibly be made?
Why couldn’t the people who dealt with this application see the absurdity of this decision?
Once the Globe broke the story, and people began “Tweeting” about it on Twitter, Tony Clement, the Minister of Industry himself Tweeted:
On one hand, that’s great. Citizen accessibility. The Minister of Industry has ordered a review. That’s dandy… except now there are another couple of questions.
#3. Is Tony Clement talking about a review of this particular case?
If so, the same bad system will still be in place the next time it happens. In that case, will the Globe run a similar story the next time it happens?
Or is he looking planning to review the whole shooting match?
#4. Why do Canadians have to get their plight featured in a major newspaper story and then disseminated on the internet before the government listens?
Shouldn’t there be some accessible review process?
The Globe story makes an additional point of pointing a finger at WindMobile, the Egyptian financed cell phone service provider for not being Canadian enough.
Yet the Canadian Government Minister of Industry, the man with the power to define an ISP as Canadian is “tweeting” his intentions on the proprietary American Twitter service. Shouldn’t the Canadian Minister of Industry be supporting the Canadian Digital Economy?
Sadly, Tony Clement doesn’t even HAVE an account on the equivalent (but open source) Canadian Identi.ca