Canadian Politics

protester holding a sign in the 13 Heros protestGenerally speaking, I don’t like political parties.

What I don’t like is the idea of political parties in this land that is supposed to be a representative democracy.  The way a representative democracy is supposed to work, is that we vote for and elect the candidate we think will best represent us. We elect the candidate we believe will vote for or against proposed laws as we would.  So that our best interests will be represented within the halls of our democratic government.

The problem is, once elected, “our” elected representative is more likely to do the bidding of their party than they are to do what we want.  Which rather makes a mockery of our “representatation.”

The inequity of our “winner take all” political system means any party holding a majority of seats in parliament has absolute power to enact any legislation it wants.  For the entire term.

looking up at protesters and signs

Our political system is older than Canada.  Perhaps our flavour of representative democracy was good enough back in 1867, when communication and transportation were far from instantaneous, and governing a land mass the size of Canada was geographically challenging.  But with today’s connectivity and access to information, our political system is sorely outdated and hugely inequitable.  Worse, our “democracy” has few if any checks and balances to prevent abuse.  When we are cursed with a majority government, what we effectively have is a time limited dictatorship.

(The Senate is supposed to provide “sober second thought,” but partisan Senate padding has resulted in the upper chamber being transformed into a rubber stamp for the party that stacks it the most.)

Because our electoral system is so terribly broken,  when any such a majority government seeks to pass laws  we don’t approve — the only recourse open to Canadians is to apply the pressure of public opinion.  Citizens have to protest in any way we can.  All we can do is hope that our government will take heed of our concerns and correct or drop legislation that is not in the public good.

KW Voted 4 U

Last summer a great many Canadians were upset by the Conservative “Black Mark Budget”  Omnibus bill.   Under our woefully antiquated “democracy,” any majority government has the power to pass any law, no matter how unpopular.  And when many pieces of unrelated legislation are bundled together and called an “omnibus,” it means these laws are very nearly being passed in secret, because they receive only the most cursory public scrutiny and debate.  In a democratic state, at minimum legislation deserves examination and dissent must be heard, even if the system allows for bad law to be passed anyway in the end.  We deserve to know when bad law is made.

Because of the current Federal Conservative Majority, the only way to stop the Bill C-38 ominbudget from passing would have been for 13 Conservative MPs to vote against it.  An awful lot of ordinary Canadians took to the streets in protest.  People who had never lifted before lifted a picket sign in their lives waved them with gusto.   Grandparemts, parents, children.   A great deal of public pressure was in fact brought to bear.  In Waterloo Region, Peter Braid pretended not to have seen the protest outside his office, while Stephen Woodworth magnanimously offered his protesters coffee.  Still, in spite of the many protests made at Conservative MP constituency offices across Canada, not a single Conservative MP voted against Party dictates.

Not long afterward, I heard Stephen Woodworth defending his decision to vote against his constituents at the Kitchener Multicultural Festival.   In the few minutes I was there,  the Member of Parliament explained to two different constituents that he had been unable to vote against Bill C-38 as they wanted,  because it would have meant opposing the directives of his political party.  The orders issued by his party prevented him from representing the voters who elected him.

Omnibudget Protest 2012

Money Makes the World Go Around

twenty dollar bills
Things are pretty bad when a supposedly democratic government ignores the voters.  Our system wasn’t entirely fair back in 1867, but it has been gamed and fiddled with by succeeding governments in attempts to give the ruling party an unfair advantage ever since.  Is it any wonder that almost half of our eligible voters don’t even bother anymore? Canadians know all too well that all votes don’t count, nor are all votes equal.  The system is so badly broken that strategic voting is considered a legitimate option.  Something’s got to give.

The Canada that my child will inherit is much worse than the Canada I inherited. We no longer have the option of leaving politics to the politicians.  Canadians need to start talking and thinking about politics. We have to stand up for change now or things will keep getting worse.

Today’s political parties seem to spend more time fund raising than campaigning. Why do they need so much cash? Seems they all need oodles of money to pay the costs of television advertising, which gets more expensive all the time. Of course, print advertising and robocalls don’t come cheap either…

With the phasing out of the per vote subsidy, money becomes a much bigger issue, particularly for the smaller political parties.

It is always easier for the rich to bankroll their political party (and get the laws that benefit them passed) but the rest of us need some political representation too.  If you feel any political party has stood up for you, or the issues you feel are important maybe you ought to send them a donation.

Perhaps the Pirate Party stood up for privacy and Internet Freedom… or the Green Party fought for the environment… or the Liberal Party is changing the way a political party works… or the NDP is standing up for First Nations… or the Conservative Party put the abortion debate back to sleep.

If you happen to have any cash left on hand after the holidays and want to encourage the party of your choice to keep up the good work, now is the time to make a donation.  A $10.00 donation actually only costs you $2.50 after you get $7.50 back in tax credit.

This is how it works:

Canadian Political Donation Facts

Maximum political contribution limit: $1,200
Donations between 0 and $400 ~ a 75% tax credit
Donations between $400 and $750 ~ $300 tax credit plus 50% of any amount over $400;
Donations over $750 ~ $475 + 33.3% of amount over $750 (max $650 per year tax credit)
Any contributions must be made by Monday, December 31st to be eligible for 2012 tax credits.

Another thing to do is get involved. Find out when and where the local political parties meet, and go sit in. Look for your local Fair Vote chapter or Co-Operate for Canada. Read the news. Follow #CDNpoli on Twitter. Listen. Learn.

Canadians need to start talking about politics, and get involved to effect change in one way or another. We can’t afford not to anymore.

If we’re stuck with a party system, maybe it’s time to join the party.
Get involved.a horizontal border of red graphic maple leaves

Advertisements

Human Rights Day: Canada

Canada FlagDecember 10, 2012 is Human Rights Day, celebrating The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The main bit of Canadian legislation which protects the human rights of Canadians under Canadian law is Part I of the Constitution Act, 1982, which is commonly known as the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, or “the Charter”.

 

CANADIAN CHARTER OF RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS

Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law:

Guarantee of Rights and Freedoms

1. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.

Fundamental Freedoms

2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:

(a) freedom of conscience and religion;

(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;

(c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and

(d) freedom of association.

Democratic Rights

3. Every citizen of Canada has the right to vote in an election of members of the House of Commons or of a legislative assembly and to be qualified for membership therein.

Maximum duration of legislative bodies

4. (1) No House of Commons and no legislative assembly shall continue for longer than five years from the date fixed for the return of the writs at a general election of its members. (81)

Continuation in special circumstances

(2) In time of real or apprehended war, invasion or insurrection, a House of Commons may be continued by Parliament and a legislative assembly may be continued by the legislature beyond five years if such continuation is not opposed by the votes of more than one-third of the members of the House of Commons or the legislative assembly, as the case may be. (82)

Annual sitting of legislative bodies

5. There shall be a sitting of Parliament and of each legislature at least once every twelve months. (83)

Mobility Rights
Mobility of citizens

6. (1) Every citizen of Canada has the right to enter, remain in and leave Canada.

Rights to move and gain livelihood

(2) Every citizen of Canada and every person who has the status of a permanent resident of Canada has the right

(a) to move to and take up residence in any province; and

(b) to pursue the gaining of a livelihood in any province.

Limitation

(3) The rights specified in subsection (2) are subject to

(a) any laws or practices of general application in force in a province other than those that discriminate among persons primarily on the basis of province of present or previous residence; and

(b) any laws providing for reasonable residency requirements as a qualification for the receipt of publicly provided social services.

Affirmative action programs

(4) Subsections (2) and (3) do not preclude any law, program or activity that has as its object the amelioration in a province of conditions of individuals in that province who are socially or economically disadvantaged if the rate of employment in that province is below the rate of employment in Canada.

Legal Rights
Life, liberty and security of person

7. Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.

Search or seizure

8. Everyone has the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure.

Detention or imprisonment

9. Everyone has the right not to be arbitrarily detained or imprisoned.

Arrest or detention

10. Everyone has the right on arrest or detention

(a) to be informed promptly of the reasons therefor;

(b) to retain and instruct counsel without delay and to be informed of that right; and

(c) to have the validity of the detention determined by way of habeas corpus and to be released if the detention is not lawful.

Proceedings in criminal and penal matters

11. Any person charged with an offence has the right

(a) to be informed without unreasonable delay of the specific offence;

(b) to be tried within a reasonable time;

(c) not to be compelled to be a witness in proceedings against that person in respect of the offence;

(d) to be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law in a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal;

(e) not to be denied reasonable bail without just cause;

(f) except in the case of an offence under military law tried before a military tribunal, to the benefit of trial by jury where the maximum punishment for the offence is imprisonment for five years or a more severe punishment;

(g) not to be found guilty on account of any act or omission unless, at the time of the act or omission, it constituted an offence under Canadian or international law or was criminal according to the general principles of law recognized by the community of nations;

(h) if finally acquitted of the offence, not to be tried for it again and, if finally found guilty and punished for the offence, not to be tried or punished for it again; and

(i) if found guilty of the offence and if the punishment for the offence has been varied between the time of commission and the time of sentencing, to the benefit of the lesser punishment.

Treatment or punishment

12. Everyone has the right not to be subjected to any cruel and unusual treatment or punishment.

Self-crimination

13. A witness who testifies in any proceedings has the right not to have any incriminating evidence so given used to incriminate that witness in any other proceedings, except in a prosecution for perjury or for the giving of contradictory evidence.

Interpreter

14. A party or witness in any proceedings who does not understand or speak the language in which the proceedings are conducted or who is deaf has the right to the assistance of an interpreter.

Equality Rights
Equality before and under law and equal protection and benefit of law

15. (1) Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or

physical disability.
Affirmative action programs

(2) Subsection (1) does not preclude any law, program or activity that has as its object the amelioration of conditions of disadvantaged individuals or groups including those that are disadvantaged because of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability. (84)

Official Languages of Canada
Official languages of Canada

16. (1) English and French are the official languages of Canada and have equality of status and equal rights and privileges as to their use in all institutions of the Parliament and government of Canada.

Official languages of New Brunswick

(2) English and French are the official languages of New Brunswick and have equality of status and equal rights and privileges as to their use in all institutions of the legislature and government of New Brunswick.

Advancement of status and use

(3) Nothing in this Charter limits the authority of Parliament or a legislature to advance the equality of status or use of English and French.

English and French linguistic communities in New Brunswick

16.1 (1) The English linguistic community and the French linguistic community in New Brunswick have equality of status and equal rights and privileges, including the right to distinct educational institutions and such distinct cultural institutions as are necessary for the preservation and promotion of those communities.

Role of the legislature and government of New Brunswick

(2) The role of the legislature and government of New Brunswick to preserve and promote the status, rights and privileges referred to in subsection (1) is affirmed. (85)

Proceedings of Parliament

17. (1) Everyone has the right to use English or French in any debates and other proceedings of Parliament. (86)

Proceedings of New Brunswick legislature

(2) Everyone has the right to use English or French in any debates and other proceedings of the legislature of New Brunswick. (87)

Parliamentary statutes and records

18. (1) The statutes, records and journals of Parliament shall be printed and published in English and French and both language versions are equally authoritative. (88)

New Brunswick statutes and records

(2) The statutes, records and journals of the legislature of New Brunswick shall be printed and published in English and French and both language versions are equally authoritative. (89)

Proceedings in courts established by Parliament

19. (1) Either English or French may be used by any person in, or in any pleading in or process issuing from, any court established by Parliament. (90)

Proceedings in New Brunswick courts

(2) Either English or French may be used by any person in, or in any pleading in or process issuing from, any court of New Brunswick. (91)

Communications by public with federal institutions

20. (1) Any member of the public in Canada has the right to communicate with, and to receive available services from, any head or central office of an institution of the Parliament or government of Canada in English or French, and has the same right with respect to any other office of any such institution where

(a) there is a significant demand for communications with and services from that office in such language; or

(b) due to the nature of the office, it is reasonable that communications with and services from that office be available in both English and French.

Communications by public with New Brunswick institutions

(2) Any member of the public in New Brunswick has the right to communicate with, and to receive available services from, any office of an institution of the legislature or government of New Brunswick in English or French.

Continuation of existing constitutional provisions

21. Nothing in sections 16 to 20 abrogates or derogates from any right, privilege or obligation with respect to the English and French languages, or either of them, that exists or is continued by virtue of any other provision of the Constitution of Canada. (92)

Rights and privileges preserved

22. Nothing in sections 16 to 20 abrogates or derogates from any legal or customary right or privilege acquired or enjoyed either before or after the coming into force of this Charter with respect to any language that is not English or French.

Minority Language Educational Rights
Language of instruction

23. (1) Citizens of Canada

(a) whose first language learned and still understood is that of the English or French linguistic minority population of the province in which they reside, or

(b) who have received their primary school instruction in Canada in English or French and reside in a province where the language in which they received that instruction is the language of the English or French linguistic minority population of the province,

have the right to have their children receive primary and secondary school instruction in that language in that province. (93)

Continuity of language instruction

(2) Citizens of Canada of whom any child has received or is receiving primary or secondary school instruction in English or French in Canada, have the right to have all their children receive primary and secondary school instruction in the same language.

Application where numbers warrant

(3) The right of citizens of Canada under subsections (1) and (2) to have their children receive primary and secondary school instruction in the language of the English or French linguistic minority population of a province

(a) applies wherever in the province the number of children of citizens who have such a right is sufficient to warrant the provision to them out of public funds of minority language instruction; and

(b) includes, where the number of those children so warrants, the right to have them receive that instruction in minority language educational facilities provided out of public funds.

Enforcement
Enforcement of guaranteed rights and freedoms

24. (1) Anyone whose rights or freedoms, as guaranteed by this Charter, have been infringed or denied may apply to a court of competent jurisdiction to obtain such remedy as the court considers appropriate and just in the circumstances.

Exclusion of evidence bringing administration of justice into disrepute

(2) Where, in proceedings under subsection (1), a court concludes that evidence was obtained in a manner that infringed or denied any rights or freedoms guaranteed by this Charter, the evidence shall be excluded if it is established that, having regard to all the circumstances, the admission of it in the proceedings would bring the administration of justice into disrepute.

General
Aboriginal rights and freedoms not affected by Charter

25. The guarantee in this Charter of certain rights and freedoms shall not be construed so as to abrogate or derogate from any aboriginal, treaty or other rights or freedoms that pertain to the aboriginal peoples of Canada including

(a) any rights or freedoms that have been recognized by the Royal Proclamation of October 7, 1763; and

(b) any rights or freedoms that now exist by way of land claims agreements or may be so acquired. (94)

Other rights and freedoms not affected by Charter

26. The guarantee in this Charter of certain rights and freedoms shall not be construed as denying the existence of any other rights or freedoms that exist in Canada.

Multicultural heritage

27. This Charter shall be interpreted in a manner consistent with the preservation and enhancement of the multicultural heritage of Canadians.

Rights guaranteed equally to both sexes

28. Notwithstanding anything in this Charter, the rights and freedoms referred to in it are guaranteed equally to male and female persons.

Rights respecting certain schools preserved

29. Nothing in this Charter abrogates or derogates from any rights or privileges guaranteed by or under the Constitution of Canada in respect of denominational, separate or dissentient schools. (95)

Application to territories and territorial authorities

30. A reference in this Charter to a province or to the legislative assembly or legislature of a province shall be deemed to include a reference to the Yukon Territory and the Northwest Territories, or to the appropriate legislative authority thereof, as the case may be.

Legislative powers not extended

31. Nothing in this Charter extends the legislative powers of any body or authority.

Application of Charter

32. (1) This Charter applies

(a) to the Parliament and government of Canada in respect of all matters within the authority of Parliament including all matters relating to the Yukon Territory and Northwest Territories; and

(b) to the legislature and government of each province in respect of all matters within the authority of the legislature of each province.

Exception

(2) Notwithstanding subsection (1), section 15 shall not have effect until three years after this section comes into force.

Exception where express declaration

33. (1) Parliament or the legislature of a province may expressly declare in an Act of Parliament or of the legislature, as the case may be, that the Act or a provision thereof shall operate notwithstanding a provision included in section 2 or sections 7 to 15 of this Charter.

Operation of exception

(2) An Act or a provision of an Act in respect of which a declaration made under this section is in effect shall have such operation as it would have but for the provision of this Charter referred to in the declaration.

Five year limitation

(3) A declaration made under subsection (1) shall cease to have effect five years after it comes into force or on such earlier date as may be specified in the declaration.

Re-enactment

(4) Parliament or the legislature of a province may re-enact a declaration made under subsection (1).

Five year limitation

(5) Subsection (3) applies in respect of a re-enactment made under subsection (4).

Citation

34. This Part may be cited as the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

a horizontal border of red graphic maple leaves

Preserve Canada’s Past

Last weekend I attended the Tiger Boys Fly-In at the Guelph airport. Named for the famed “Tiger Moth” biplane, the Tiger Boys are a flying club;  pilots and warplane enthusiasts who maintain, repair and fly warplanes which are relics of Canadian history.  They hold an annual “Fly Day,” where ordinary people can come out and see these machines and even pay to go up for a ride in them. What an amazing way to bring our history to life.

Historical societies across Canada toil to preserve our heritage because it is important to Canadians. Yet while ordinary people like these care enough to preserve our history, I was stunned to learn that our government can’t seem to manage to spend less than ten million dollars to preserve our documentary heritage.

Ten million dollars is more than we can easily manage at the local level, so it may sound like a lot. Until you look at other budget entries. How much does the Federal government spend on, say, advertising?  Or maybe a submarine. Or a helicopters.  How much does every day our troops are at war cost us?   How much did they spend on the Toronto G20?

How much did they spend ~ of our tax money ~ to quietly bail out the banks and the bankers? Hmmm.

And when all is said and done, who will have the money to be able to afford these priceless Canadian historical artifacts. Artifacts that rightly belong to all Canadians?

Photographs and heirlooms, some bought by Canadian governments with our tax dollars, and some donated, like the world famous Yousuf Karsh photographic legacy.

This is our heritage.

This is not only incredibly short sighted, but much worse, this is a crime against our children. And our children’s children. Canada’s shared history is our national photo album.

The story of where we’ve come from, and why we are where we are.  I am really lucky that my family has some of our own heritage photographs, but not every family does.   I’ve begun creating my own little heritage project, The Russwurm Family website.

I’ve put some of my family’s priceless, irreplacable family heirlooms online at http://russwurm.org

The contents of Library and Archives Canada belong to all Canadians, past and future.

I don’t believe that any government should have the right to sell it off.   Yet this is the kind of tragedy that can happen with an antiquated electoral system like ours.   Still, there isn’t time to change that in time, this must be stopped,

Now.

Because these artifacts that our government plans to sell off to private collectors — our heritage — are unique.

These artifacts are irreplacable.

There is a petition:

Make it Better – Help save Canada’s National Archival Development Program.

Or you can write a letter on the Save Library and Archives Canada website, where you can use their system to write a letter to the man who has been entrusted with preserving Canada’s heritage, Heritage Minister James Moore.

Of course, you can write your own letter:

The Hon. James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6 James Moore:
email:  james.moore@parl.gc.ca

You can ~ and should ~ also write a letter to your own MP [Find your MP.]   Under our “winner-take-all” electoral system, our MP is supposed to represent our interests in Ottawa. Whether she/he is a back bencher or Minister. Whether or not we voted for him/her.

And of course, you can send a copy to the Prime Minister, Stephen Harper  ~ email: stephen.harper@parl.gc.ca

Watch the video appeal from the Documentary Organization of Canada.

Please share this with every Canadian you know.

And thank you for your help.
a horizontal border of red graphic maple leaves

Democracy Week ~ Fair Vote Canada

As Canadian democracy becomes more mythological every day, I find myself cheering for Fair Vote Canada even more. Our electoral system is antiquated and grossly unfair, because, of course, it was established in the 18th Century. Before automobiles, telephones or television.

Things have changed. A lot. There have been occasional changes to our electoral system, but it seeme to me that they have all been made in the spirit of bolstering the ruling political party that has made them. The elements that were supposed to provide oversight (such as Governor General, Lieutenant Governor, Senate) have all been disempowered to the point where Canadian voters mostly have even less say in our government than we did back in 1867.

So I very much support Fair Vote Canada. This is the second year for Fair Vote’s Democracy Week.  It began this year on September 15th,  the International Day of Democracy.  Fair Vote held a Democracy Fair on King Street in Waterloo, yesterday as part of Open Streets.

Tonight Waterloo Region’s Fair Vote Chapter presents:

Electoral Reform 101

7 PM at the Lyle S. Hallman School of Social Work
120 Duke Street West, Kitchener, Ontario, Canada

“Wondering what the talk of electoral reform is all about? Why do we need it? What does proportional representation mean? Come learn the basics with this presentation and bring your questions!”

Hope to see you there!

Co-operate for Canada

The Cooperate for Canada panel discussion was quite interesting. I’ll blog more about it when I’m a little more awake 🙂

From left to right:

David Merner, prospective Liberal Party of Canada cooperation leadership candidate, former President of the B.C. Liberal Part

Cathy Maclellan, Energy Critic for the Green Party of Canada, past Green Party federal candidate for Kitchener-Waterloo

James Gordon, past provincial Guelph NDP candidate, well known singer-songwriter, entrepreneur and community activist

The fourth member of the panel, Stuart Parker,  attended via Skype from Vancouver


Check the Poliblog for further information on the Democracy Week events in Waterloo Region.

Happy International Day of Democracy

September 15th was designated International Day of Democracy by the United Nations in 2007. In 2011 Fair Vote Canada adopted Democracy Day, as well as expanding activities to fill its companion “Democracy Week,” which starts today.

“…democracy

is a universal value based on the freely-expressed will of people to determine their own political, economic, social and cultural systems, and their full participation in all aspects of life.
Universal Declaration on Democracy

picket sign at a demonstration

Although Canada is considered a democratic nation, we’ve had very little actual democracy of late thanks to our antiquated “winner-take-all” electoral system. Our federal government is currently ruled by a Conservative Party majority, which essentially means that they can do anything they want, regardless of what citizens want.

This is why the “Black Mark” budget, which threw out Canada’s environmental protections and replaced it with business friendly legislation.

This is why Bill C-11, the “Copyright Modernization Act” was passed to appease the Americans, after more than a decade of opposition from Canadians all across the board.

11. Democracy is founded on the right of everyone to take part in the management of public affairs; it therefore requires the existence of representative institutions at all levels and, in particular, a Parliament in which all components of society are represented and which has the requisite powers and means to express the will of the people by legislating and overseeing government action.

Universal Declaration on Democracy

Casseroles protest sign

The province of Quebec just turfed the Liberal Government, led by Jean Charest, a man singularly unresponsive to citizens on education.  Now that province will enjoy a little democracy with their newly minted minority government.

Ontario narrowly missed another Liberal Government majority in the 2011 election, and we just survived a byelection which might have restored the majority the Liberal Party had enjoyed since 2001. Ontario is fortunate that the NDP’s Catherine Fife was elected to fill the Kitchener-Waterloo seat vacated by Elizabeth Witmer, because we are lucky to retain minority rule.

Under our 18th century electoral system, the only time Canadians get to enjoy democracy is when we have a minority.

Provincially, we can thank an earlier minority government for our universal health care.

I recommend reading the entire Universal Declaration on Democracy if you want an idea of just how undemocratic Canada actually is.

But today is Democracy Day.

Although I have grave reservations about the Co-operate For Canada movement, I am planning on attending their information night.

7:00pm Sat, September 15, 7pm – 9pm

Adult Recreation Centre
175 King St. South, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Exploring Why and How the Liberal, NDP and Green Parties Should Work Together to Replace the Harper Conservatives with a Majority Government that Reflects the Shared Vision of the Majority of Canadians, with an Immediate Commitment to Electoral Reform

Speakers to be followed by Q+A and Town Hall Style Discussion.
Featuring:

Liberal David Merner, prospective Liberal Party of Canada cooperation leadership candidate, former President of the B.C. Liberal Party

NDP James Gordon, past provincial Guelph NDP candidate, well known singer-songwriter, entrepreneur and community activist

Green Cathy Maclellan, Energy Critic for the Green Party of Canada, past Green Party federal candidate for Kitchener-Waterloo

I certainly don’t have all the answers, but we all need to come together to find them.

That’s democracy.

Politics and Media

While Ontario was poised to discover whether or not our provincial minority government would be converted to a majority in today’s By-Election, we looked at TV news to see what was happening. It’s been years since I’ve had television; normally I get me news online, but I was away from home so we tried it out.

CTV has a 24 hour news channel. Unfortunately it wasn’t running anything about the election.

Granted, By-elections usually don’t change the status quo, but this was different. One seat could make a huge difference to all Ontarians, by transforming a Liberal minority government into a majority.

With our winner-take-all electoral system, minority government is the closest we get to democracy.

The results of this By-Election will impact on the whole province. So there is a lot of interest in this one. So why wasn’t CTV’s news channel covering it? Maybe they think Canadians aren’t interested in politics?

Okay, there was one little factoid squib floating across the ticker along the bottom periodically, but the news they were covering? Well, they kept cutting back to Jo Biden droning on and on live from the American Democratic Convention. This wasn’t news, this was filler. Although the outcome of the American Democratic convention will likely have impact on the rest of the world, this wasn’t it.

Catherine Fife at Fair Vote WRC Politics in the Patio

And it certainly wasn’t more important than the actual breaking news of an important Ontario election in Ontario.

CBC has a news channel too. Although they had a piece on the Quebec provincial election, they weren’t actually covering the breaking news of the Ontario election results ~ they were cutting back to the American convention as well.

Maybe they think we aren’t interested in Canadian politics?

Poppycock.  Maybe the “news media” isn’t doing the job we think it is.

Breaking out my computer I popped into Twitter and lo and behold, breaking news.

Turns out that the Liberal Candidate Steven Del Duca won in Vaughan as expected.

But the Kitchener-Waterloo riding was a different story: NDP Candidate, Catherine Fife won big.  Here are the unofficial results

The television part of the mainstream media has certainly failed us; it is, at best, entertainment, not news. Real news lives online.

Just as our antiquated 18th Century electoral system fails us every time.

Although I am quite pleased with Catherine Fife’s win in Kitchener-Waterloo, the disturbing reality is that, although she won the vote handily, 59% of Kitchener-Waterloo voters did not vote for her.

In spite of all that, I’m sure she’ll do an excellent job, so I’d like to congratulate Catherine Fife, Kitchener-Waterloo’s new NDP MPP.