Serving the Public…?

technical ineptitude

Minister Moore's Twitter Picture

Reading the response Russell McOrmond received from MP James Moore I am appalled.   Canada’s current Heritage Minister, James Moore, has represented himself as a technologically astute legislator.   This is important because the Heritage Ministry holds sway over both the CRTC and matters of copyright and the Internet.   Unfortunately, no one has explained to him that the ability to “tweet” on Twitter is not the same thing as possessing technical expertise.

Dubbed “the Ipod Minister,” Moore was one of the ‘forces’ behind last year’s Copyright Consultation and this year’s Digital Economy Consultation.   Still, Minister Moore’s technical savvy seems limited to purchasing and promoting Apple products; this letter incident highlights Moore’s woeful lack of technical expertise, which ought to make him a poor choice to occupy a position of power over Canada’s digital economy or copyright reform.

Canadians deserve to have legislators who at least understand the issues.


But there is a wider concern.   Every time we have an election the main stream media takes the populace to task for lack of participation.   Only a fraction of eligible voters turn out for any given election at any level of government.   Yet no one ever seems to mention the many ways Canadians are disenfranchised before we even consider going to the polling station.

writing letters to our Government

Most of us put real effort into the letters we write to our MPs.   Many federal issues go beyond the scope of our individual MP, and depending on the issue it may be necessary to correspond with all the members on a committee, or the Minister in charge of the issue or even the Prime Minister.   Sometimes it might even be best to send a message to every Member of Parliament.

To facilitate this constituent—-representative contact Canada Post delivers mail from citizens for any or all of the above mentioned correspondence to our representatives in Ottawa free of charge.   Naturally Canada Post employees don’t perform this service out of the goodness of their hearts, this democratic service is paid for by the government.   Presumably because they want to hear from their constituents.   So they can serve us better.

I understand why we need to write letters to our representatives in government.   If we don’t tell them our views about about issues important to us, our concerns will not be considered, and laws may well be passed that are contrary to our interests.   Laws contrary to the public good.

So why don’t the responses we get back from our elected representatives actually answer any of our concerns or questions?

form letters

I’ve sent a few in the past year or so, and the responses take a very very long time in coming.   Do they think that if they take months to reply we will have forgotten what we wrote?   I guess they don’t realize most of us keep copies of the letters we send.   At a time when most of our letters are written on computers and copying is easy.

Yet the supposed “response” they give us doesn’t indicate anyone has actually read anything we’ve written beyond our name and address.   Invariably a form letter, the responses they send seem more like press releases.   Many people seem to accept this as the way our government conducts its business.

Perrin Beatty circa 1970's

But I don’t.

Before I was even old enough to vote I wrote a couple letters to my representative at the time, Conservative MP Perrin Beatty.   I got a written response to one letter and a personal phone call from the man himself for the other.   That is the way it is supposed to work.

This year, when I wrote a letter to my current (Conservative) MP to protest the government’s premature prorogation, the envelope I received was addressed to me but the letter inside was not.   It doesn’t get much clearer than that.

When we send our elected representatives to Ottawa they get access to administrative staff paid for out of the public coffers.   People to deal with scheduling, email, letters from constituents.   Every letter we send to anyone in out parliament should be read and answered properly.

Perhaps they think sending a response like this gives the appearance of responding.

It doesn’t.

who pays for this?

Maple Leaf that says "Oh! Canada"
As a citizen, it makes me angry that we taxpayers foot the bill for these unresponsive “responses”.

Every response that isn’t a real response is a waste of money.

But the much higher price we pay is in the certain knowledge that our elected representatives can’t be bothered to listen to us let alone reply.

This is a clear message to Canadians that our voices as citizens are not merely not being heard, they are being ignored.   It is certainly a disincentive to citizen participation in the democratic process.   And I think this is very possibly one of the most blatant causes of the legendary Canadian “voter apathy”.   Why bother: they don’t listen. The first step in disenfranchising citizens.

This is not acceptable in a democratic nation.

Canada’s ‘public servants” may be able to say the word “democracy” but some of them don’t seem to understand what it means.

7 thoughts on “Serving the Public…?

  1. After posting this I discovered today James Moore has blocked me from receiving his tweets on Twitter. Having never before been blocked I wasn’t aware there was no notification, so I can’t say for sure when it actually happened.

    This post may well have triggered it.

    The twitter group no_mpjamesmoore was established back in June as a public place for citizens to indicate they’ve been blocked by Mr. Moore.

    Interesting that he’s still blocking citizens. A little sad, really. Kind of like an ostrich burying it’s head in the sand believing it will be rendered invisible. Or a little boy plugging his ears with his with his fingers in hopes that which he doesn’t want to hear will go away.

  2. This does not bode well. A government who censors voice is not a government that Canada lauds itself for. We’re like North Korea or China here.

  3. I wrote via e-mail to my MP (Liberal) and have yet to even receive an answer. I wrote to a NDP MP to express my support in his member private Bill and he took the time (actually his staff) to reply with what I think was an understanding of my letter content. My liberal MP was CC’ed on it and I have yet to hear about it.

    Maybe next time I’ll just use Canada Post.

  4. @ Hub

    I understand our government takes postal mail more seriously than email. Hard to say if it’s because it’s more work for us, or if it’s because it costs money and therefore has value.

    Last year I emailed all the MPs working on a piece of legislation, and several of my emails were deleted without being read. StopUBB: Canadian Democracy In Action?

    If possible set up your email to ask for a “return receipt requested” so you know if your email is received/opened/deleted without being read.

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