Democracy is in Trouble

Get out and vote.
 One Election after another the number of Canadians who exercise their right to vote drops further and further. Not that you can blame them but, people it seems are becoming more and more disengaged from the process, fed up with the feeling that their vote doesn’t count.

Interestingly what seems to be missing from the discussion about why people don’t vote is input from the politicians. During the Leadership debate, Jack Layton was the only participant to even mention proportional representation; even then it was just for one fleeting moment. For the other three, it was as if Jack never even said the words.

During an election campaign you might think the leaders of the political parties would be crying from the roof tops “Vote. Vote. Vote”

Or, at the very least you would think, considering Canada’s dismal participation rate, Elections Canada should be engaged in a significant campaign to get people out to the polls.

The silence is deafening.

I don’t think Stephen Harper actually wants new voters added to the mix. He is hoping his tired old demographic gets off their couches and votes but, the hell with everyone else. Every party is trying to poach a few votes here and a few votes there. Harper wants the “ethnic vote”, The Liberals want the NDP vote. The NDP want the Liberals, and the Greens want a bit from everyone.

A majority of Canadians don’t want the Harper Conservatives but we might get stuck with him again. That government, despite Harper tells you, never represented a majority of Canadians and never will. Let’s be honest here. Neither will the Liberals.

When voters believe their votes won’t make any difference, or don't even count, they have little reason to bother. In my riding the Conservative candidate did get a majority in the last election, just over 50%. So what about the rest of us, the 48% that didn't want Tom Lukiwski? Take it from me, we have no representation in Ottawa. Our MP is invisible to us.That scenario is repeated all across the country. It doesn't make sense.

There is some hope however.

Stephen Harper tells us, again and again, that Canadians didn’t want this election. I think he is wrong. A record number of Canadians turned on their television sets to catch the leaders’ debate. In fact, 10,6000,000 Canadians tuned in to watch, perhaps not for the whole debate but at least for some of it. That is not bad for a debate that started before most people could make it home from work if they lived further from Ottawa than Western Ontario. Thousands of others watched in on line.

The media tells us that people are disengaged but, every single person I talk to is following the campaigns. The blogosphere, Face book, Twitter and YouTube have almost been taken over by the election. I am over whelmed by the amount of material being shared on line – opinions, rants, songs, photos, videos and news links.

I feel a shift. I no longer think a Harper majority is possible. He may hang on to a minority by the skin of his teeth, but that won’t last all that long. The opposition have to decide. Either sell out their principles and support Harper or for some sort of power sharing new government. For me, that would be an easy decision to make.

If nothing else I think the last few years of witnessing a broken parliamentary democracy have started to arouse the sleeping giant. Canadians are fed up. I believe that no matter if politicians like it or not, we will see some form of, much needed, electoral reform in this country.

So stand up, speak out and fight for change. Oh yeah, don't forget to vote

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