Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Here We Go Again

What I really resent about the Canadian electoral system, apart from the fact that it is first past the post, is that every time we call an election, we lose months worth of work on legislation that has been wending its way through the process, but isn’t finished yet. Now, if I think about this topic, I suspect that there would have been times when I’d be glad that a certain piece of legislation was killed by the dissolution of parliament. Hypothetically speaking, if I hated the current government, and the election succeeded in removing the current party from power, then I might be glad that legislation initiated by the previous government was simply vamoosed. On the other hand, when we end up with essentially the same composition of government after the election as before, it is just plain waste.

And even if there is a change of party in power, couldn’t they just whip through defeating the legislation that they didn’t approve of, and get to work on the legislation that is seriously addressing a topic of value?

I originally intended to write this blog entry a few days ago, immediately prior to the non-confidence vote. At that time I was mad. I didn’t want an election in January; like many people, I look at all three federal parties and am disgusted. I suspect I’m disgusted by the media also; it’s hard to tell, but it seems likely that the media is part of the reason that I’ve never gotten to see electoral campaigns that actually addressed the issues and policies facing our society.

My anger has fizzled out now, at least the part of my anger that didn’t want to have to wade through another election campaign. My sense of disgust, on the other hand, lingers. And to some degree, it is waking my sense of guilt.

I’ve always voted, since I became eligible, on the theory that it was my responsibility as a Canadian citizen and I wasn’t about to shirk it. However, I haven’t always invested much time in researching the policies of each party, and I’ve never spent any time in getting to know the candidates in my riding. Much of the time, I have felt it wasn’t worthwhile – living as I always have in liberal strongholds, I’ve basically felt it didn’t matter how I voted. I believe (hmm, scary that I can’t remember for sure) that I’ve variously voted NDP, Liberal and Green in the elections of the past decade. I still feel like my vote doesn’t matter, and I’d sure as hell like to see electoral reform as a major platform plank in whichever party wins the election (and well-reasoned electoral reform, not electoral reform designed to improve that party’s results and power, without thought to the dynamics of democracy).

But this time, I will be different. At the very least, I’m going to work my way through the party websites (yes, including the Conservative Party), and make sure that I know in detail the policies of the party I vote for.


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