October 18, 2015 Andrew Phillip Chernoff Just Saying….
“Paradigm Shift” Needed In Ottawa
On April 8, 1963, Canadians set a record unequaled or bettered since, with the highest percentage of voters in history when 80 per cent of all eligible voters in 1963 cast their ballots.
Elections Canada reported on Oct. 14th, 2015:
According to the preliminary figures, some 3.6 million electors voted at the advance polls in this general election. This is a 71% increase from the 2,100,855 electors who voted in advance in the 2011 general election.
So far, Canadians from coast-to coast-to coast are going to the polls in record numbers.
Indeed, Canadian democracy can scarcely be said to be in decline it seems, as has been reported recently.
Let’s make this “paradigm shift” happen in Ottawa, David Herle, principal partner at The Gandalf Group, a Toronto-based research and consulting company, urges because Canadians need to feel connected to Parliament and Parliament needs to be seen as relevant to their lives, he outlined in the article, Democracy and the decline of Parliament, published May 2, 2013.
“Only then can we begin to close the gap between voters and our political institutions with the goal of ultimately strengthening our democracy.” Herle continued.
Star columnist Bob Hepburn who interviewed Herle for the article, started out by introducing his readers to Herle this way:
Since his days as Paul Martin’s campaign chairman ended, David Herle has given a lot of thought to the state of our democracy and the increasing disconnect between Parliament and Canadians.
And the more Herle studies the issue, the more the former prime minister’s strategist worries.
“There’s a growing gap that could have serious long-term implications for the health of our democracy” from voter turnout to policy formation, Herle says over coffee one recent afternoon in downtown Toronto.
“Voters look at Ottawa these days and feel the issues being debated up there have no impact on their daily lives,” he says.
“There’s also a serious decline in what people expect from government. As well, they’ve stopped looking to government for help and for the most part they don’t think it matters who is in power.”
Hepburn stated in the article that a poll in Fall 2012, “suggested barely 27 per cent of Canadians believe Ottawa is dealing with issues we really care about.”
Most people are worried about daily issues, such as their children’s education, looking after aging parents and getting decent health care. But other than writing cheques to the provinces, Ottawa has opted out of health care, education, transportation and other issues that affect our normal lives.
There are no bold new ideas emerging from Ottawa today that will engage Canadians and make them feel that what happens in Parliament really does play a role in their lives.
No longer is there serious talk in Ottawa of programs that would affect most Canadians directly, such as a national child care strategy, a national plan for big cities or an agreement for natives along the lines of the Kelowna Accord signed by Martin.
Instead, there is a narrow set of issues that Prime Minister Stephen Harper is pursuing and for the most part the opposition parties are adhering to them.
Because voters have stopped looking to Parliament for help, Ottawa has stopped responding to their needs, Herle believes.
Well, Canadians are engaged in this federal election.
The early voting poll results indicated that in resounding fashion.
Whether it is to solidify the Harper’s Conservatives hold on Canada, or to make a statement that change is on the way with an exclamation point; Canadians are alive and well, and have risen to affect what kind of Parliament will play a role in their lives.
The implications for democracy are huge in this federal election when so many Canadians have believed already it was not a waste of time to try to make a difference or to attempt at creating meaningful change through their democratic right to vote.
According to Hepburn, Herle is not alone in voicing similar concerns:
Conservative MP Michael Chong (Wellington-Halton Hills), writing in Policy Options magazine in 2010, predicted that “if Parliament is becoming increasingly irrelevant to Canadians and is not central to public debate in Canada, then public policy will be determined in an increasingly non-democratic fashion.”
Chong suggested that reforming question period, the insult-laden daily shouting match that is the only reference most Canadians have with politics, is a necessary first step to restoring Parliament’s relevance. He called for improved decorum, more time both for questions and answers and a requirement that ministers actually respond to questions directed at them.
Chong is correct about the possible consequences for democracy and the role of Parliament. That’s because if voters have given up on Parliament, it means they have lost faith in politicians to look after their interests.
To not exercise your constitutional right to vote and support a democratic Canadian government, would as Herle suggests, “provide the ruling party with enormous leeway to abuse parliamentary traditions and procedures.”
Let’s introduce fresh air into our parliament and federal government and take back what is ours as Canadians: our right to decide; thereby beginning to, as Hepburn writes, “… close the gap between voters and our political institutions with the goal of ultimately strengthening our democracy.”
…..What’s that??….Who won???…..Who won, what??……Ohhhhhh……
The Liberal Party of Lester Pearson ran on a platform promising that, if elected, they would begin their term with “60 Days of Decision” on questions such as introducing a new Canadian flag, reforming health care, and a public pension plan, along with other legislative reforms.
Despite winning 41% of the vote, which is usually sufficient for ensuring the election of a majority government, the Liberals fell five seats short of their target. The Liberals formed a minority government that was dependent on the support of the social democratic New Democratic Party (NDP) in order to pass legislation.
The social-democratic NDP had been formed in 1961 by a socialist party, the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation, and by the Canadian Labour Congress. The 1963 election was the second vote contested by the NDP. The party won slightly fewer votes, and two fewer seats, than they had received in the 1962 election. They were again disappointed by the failure of their new partnership with the labour movement to produce an electoral breakthrough, particularly in the province of Ontario, which has the largest population and the largest number of seats in the House of Commons.
Social Credit was unable to increase its representation in western Canada, and lost four of its Quebec seats – this despite gaining a slightly better share of the vote compared to 1962. Indeed, 1963 represented the highest share Social Credit would ever get. The continuing lop-sided result led to a split in the party when Thompson refused to step aside so that Caouette could become party leader. Caouette and his followers left the Social Credit Party to sit as a separate social credit caucus, the Ralliement des créditistes.=>https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_federal_election,_1963
Anybody see what I see…..I mean….does history really repeat itself??? Of course not….the 1963 Conservatives had a minority government….but a minority government is possible, is it not????? Who will it be….Check back on Tuesday, October 20, 2015.