With all the fuss about prorogation, like everyone else I’ve been thinking about Canada’s electoral system. Like most Canadians, I’ve known that there are problems with how our government works for a good long while. But, again, like most people, I’ve been busy. So I have not been paying as close attention as I should have been to what’s been happening on the political front.
I’m not a political scientist or a law professor. I’m just a citizen. A mom. Since a long time favorite* at my house is Dr. Seuss’ If I ran the Zoo I thought I’d look at Canadian politics and think about what >I< would do differently
If I ran the Zoo er Country…
Since I believe Canada is in serious need of electoral reform, this is just part one of this series. This would be my personal contribution to the CAPP Days of Action initiative.
We have different levels of government in Canada. The highest level is the Federal Government, which plays a part in the lives of all Canadians. This level of government is the highest.
You are a Canadian if you are born here, or if you immigrate and become a citizen. Canadians don’t have to live in Canada to be citizens. That’s why there were No-prorogation protests held in other parts of the world on January 23rd.
The next level down in the hierarchy: Provincial/Territorial Government: it all boils down to where you live. Canadians moving to a different part of the country, or a different country lose their voice in this level of government.
The lowest level of government was traditionally the municipalities. Unfortunately, in many places we’ve had an extra level of government inflicted on us by the Province, so we have the addition of a regional level of government. They always “sell” this extra layer of government as a way to save money through being able to provide a wider range of services at a lower cost. In reality I don’t thing the addition of any regional government has ever saved Canadian taxpayers a nickel.
No Party Rule
At the Federal and Provincial levels of government we have political parties. Everywhere except in the
Northwest Territories and Nunavut
Unlike provincial governments and the Yukon, the government of the Northwest Territories does not have political parties (except during the dark days between 1898 and 1905). The Northwest Territories governs through a consensus government called the Legislative Assembly. This group is composed of one member elected from each of the constituencies, and after election, the new parliament elects a premier and speaker by secret ballot.
The members of the Legislative Assembly of Nunavut are also elected individually; there are no parties and the legislature is consensus-based. The head of Nunavut’s government is a premier, who is elected by and from the the elected members of the legislative assembly.
What an amazing idea! Why don’t we adopt this system for the country?
Imagine: the people we elect to represent us would actually be representing us. Just think: we’d never have the situation where the leader of the party fails to get elected so they are run again in a “safe” riding. And you know, not having parties would at the very least curb patronage. If we didn’t have parties, our representatives couldn’t be ordered by their party leader to vote for something against our interests. They would have to work together or nothing would get done.
That’s what I would do if I ran the zoo country.
* “If I Ran the Zoo”, by Dr. Seuss was the first recorded instance of the word “nerd.”
Write to your Member of Parliament and tell them what you think about premature prorogation. You can find your MP with this lovely link – it will also help you find out who your MP is if you don’t know. It’s time that Canadians started letting them know what we think about how they represent us.
Find your Member of Parliament
Write to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and tell him too!
Prime Minister/Premier Ministre Stephen Harper <firstname.lastname@example.org>
You can also send him postal mail without a stamp!! Canada Post delivers mail to and from the Canadian government representatives gratis:
The Right Hon. Stephen Joseph Harper, P.C., B.A., M.A.
1600 90th Avenue Southwest, suite A-203
The government gives more credence to postal mail than email. Maybe because it’s more expensive.
Canada badly needs electoral reform. Take a peek at the Non-Partisan Fair Vote Canada site to get information some ideas of electoral reform. All Canadians need to join in these non-partisan discussions.
P.S. You can also sign the online petition “Declaration of Voters Rights“