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Canada’s Deepening Democracy Crisis
06-15-2010, 09:25 PM
Post: #1
Canada’s Deepening Democracy Crisis
Canada’s Deepening Democracy Crisis

By Murray Dobbin

Global Research, June 13, 2010
Murray Dobbin's Blog - 2010-05-03

Canada is in the midst of a crisis in democracy unique in its history. There is simply no other historical example that one can compare it to. It is multi-faceted and it affects every aspect of our national politics and political discourse. It is inexorably eroding the political fabric of the country and therefore our viability as a democratic nation.

First, we have a government so contemptuous of democracy that it is utterly unapologetic in trying to impose on the country an agenda opposed by probably 75 per cent of the population — treating its minority status not as a mandate to work with other parties but as an irritating impediment to re-engineering the country along the lines defined by the U.S. Christian right.

Second, we are amongst a tiny handful of countries still saddled with the absurdly anachronistic voting system that allows for government by executive dictatorship by any party that can get 40 per cent of the vote.

Third, Canada is witnessing a continuing catastrophic decrease in voter turn out with just 59 per cent voting in the October 2008 election — a result which put us 16th out of 17 peer nations. This aspect of the crisis is largely the result of the first two: a deliberate plan by the political right to downsize democracy through relentless partisanship and people’s frustration at seeing their votes count for nothing.

Fourth is the crisis within the Liberal Party and its virtual collapse as a vehicle for nation-building. The era of Trudeau and Turner has been replaced by that of Paul Martin and Ignatieff — cynical servants of the wealthy and spear-carriers for neo-liberal economic policies that are anathema to genuine democracy and nation-building. This internal crisis has led to a ceiling for their popular support of no more than 35 per cent. While one party’s problems may not fully qualify as a crisis in democracy, the absence of a strong centre-left mainstream party puts the fruits of democracy at risk.

Liberals without traction

No matter how out of synch with Canadians the Harper government becomes on a range of issues — the Jaffer/Guergis fiasco; the shameful exclusion of abortion from Ottawa’s maternal health program; the contempt for Parliament; the chronic lying — the Liberals cannot gain any traction. While it is just one poll, a recent Harris-Decima survey showed the Liberals at just 27 per cent and the Conservatives at 29 per cent. The most significant number was the NDP at 20 per cent, just seven points behind the once proud, and arrogant, ‘natural governing party.’

The Liberal Party is in the midst of its greatest crisis in decades. Paul Martin and the thugs who ran his leadership campaign destroyed the unity of the party. It will be a long time before it recovers. This is why the Liberals are floundering — the magic and good judgment (and smart people) that came from feeling entitled to govern the country is gone. Liberals are confused, lack confidence, and don’t like each other much. And instead of a leader with a history in the party who might actually understand the problem, they have Ignatieff, a political idiot savant incapable of repairing the party.

Now, more than ever, a coalition

The only way out of this impasse — for the Liberals and the country – is clear to everyone except the one person and party critical to making it happen. The solution to all of these elements of the democratic crisis is the implementation of proportional representation, preceded by a formal commitment by the opposition parties to form a coalition government after the next election.

A coalition of Liberals and the NDP, based on a signed accord committing both to a minimum but substantive legislative agenda, and supported informally by the Bloc is not just one possible strategy to rid the country of Stephen Harper and his wrecking crew. It is the only strategy.

Nothing else will work. Good luck to the NDP in their quest to replace the Liberals, but we just don’t have that much time. The Liberals, it should now be clear, are incapable of winning a majority (this is a good thing) with Ignatieff and quite likely with any other leader on the horizon.

For those on the left who don’t trust the Liberals, of course they are right. Their recent history in government is a betrayal of the best of their own legacy. But Canada is facing its greatest threat to democracy in its history and we don’t have the luxury of turning up our noses at even this quintessential pro-business party. And forcing the Liberals to recognize that their best bet for survival is through a progressive coalition might actually reinforce what remains of the left-wing of that party.

Doing nothing locks in right-wing rule

We can either take our chances with a coalition with the Liberals or sit on the sidelines and let it continue on its current path: competing with Harper for the centre-right vote and guaranteeing the continued deadlock. If the right-wing of the Liberal party prevails then it will, along with Harper, drag the country ever-further to the right and eliminate any hope of progressive policies down the road.

The Liberals are still, inexplicably in my view, blocking a coalition. Ignatieff’s rejection of the coalition in 2009 was the biggest mistake the party could have made. Partly out of hubris, partly toadying to the Bay Street bankers, Ignatieff killed the best chance for reviving his moribund party. Had Ignatieff gone along, the progressive policies that the NDP had secured from the Liberals would have put the party back on track. There is nothing like exercising power to give you back your confidence. It is the Liberals who would have received most of the credit and they could have been on the road to recovery.

A coalition is still possible, but it will take a concerted effort on the part of ordinary Canadians, social and labour movements, and Liberal Party members to force the party to start negotiations. It should not be that difficult: The Liberals should be in panic mode if they are not, and short of dumping Ignatieff and taking a risk with another leader, their prospects are grim.

Key to victory: promise pro-rep

What might a minimum basis for a coalition program look like? For starters, a national child care program which the Liberals, under pressure from the NDP, had almost implemented and to which Ignatieff has said he is still committed. Secondly, a halt to the insane tax cuts, and a reversal of the worst of them to recover some of the $100 billion a year we have lost. Ignatieff has mused about this and Layton would, too, if he had a coalition partner. Third, a commitment to the Kyoto Accord which Canada has already signed. Fourth, vigorous pursuit of the Afghan torture issue (which would finish Harper once and for all), a commitment to a decisive exit from that country, and the forging of a more independent foreign policy.

But most important for the future of the country would be a commitment to proportional representation (PR) or at a minimum, a national referendum on the issue. This will be the toughest to achieve, but the NDP, which officially supports PR, should make this the core of any agreement — and the core plank in its next election platform.

An Environics poll commissioned by the Council of Canadians and carried out in February revealed that fully 62 per cent of Canadians support a change in the voting system to one using PR. Young voters were the strongest supporters, with 71 per cent favouring such a change. Given that only 20 per cent of eligible first-time voters actually cast a ballot, PR might help address that crisis, too.

This column was published in the Tyee and rabble.ca May 3rd, 2010
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Centre for Research on Globalization. The contents of this article are of sole responsibility of the author(s). The Centre for Research on Globalization will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article.

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© Copyright Murray Dobbin , Murray Dobbin's Blog, 2010

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06-16-2010, 03:42 AM
Post: #2
RE: Canada’s Deepening Democracy Crisis
Harper will not get a majority and neither will the others for some time and 4 me and many other canadians thats just fine, we lived through the tyrancy of the liberals and b4 that the conservatives, minority governments r good they force the parties to work together gives the Minority" a chance to gang up to stop the agenda setters and they know it. trust me.

I was a reformer 100 % and admire many of there ideas and how they wanted to fix the canadian system, but bankers and the machine are too far in to let a great real leader and one who cares bout canada rule. Manning is who i speak of, he kicked harper out of the party for being an american ball licker and now low and behold he's back and with his Machine back taken over the reform and has power... but many of us on the right know of harper and know not to give him power i just abstain from voting, let the lefties who really care get off there asses if they care enough!!! but i'll not vote for them either. as most Canadians there is no current party I'd support, i worked with a party called the UPC back in the 90's early 2000's and they had great ideas, but no way to raise capital, the finance system for new parties keeps them from forming, reform was lucky to get 150,000 from a generous supporter very early in the game to get them off the ground.

the UPC platform of green energy, elimination of income tax, and the guaranteed income for seniors was very favorable and they had real plans for a whole range of issues, but the current parties have no real open plans that will benefit us, so there is only "none of the above" to Quote Brewster

canadian politics is almost moot now but once harper leaves or justin gets more involved... it should open upIcon_biggrin

Remember Knowledge is the only thing THEY can't take from you, and Knowledge is Know how, and Know how is Power!!!

Live long and Prosper!!!! Have a plan beyond words, and worry not of why the storm is coming as to how you're going to survive in it!!!!

Deathanyl @gmail!!!!!!
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06-16-2010, 05:15 AM
Post: #3
RE: Canada’s Deepening Democracy Crisis
As a Canadian following politics (albeit mostly MSM until a year ago) ever since I could read I feel compelled to hop on this one.

The main problem is the party system of representation and the whip control they exercise. Once elected a party member is basically controlled by the party under threat of dismissal (maybe worse). Canadians don't tend to vote in independents so inspired leadership is choked off unless they tow the party line.

The only real power an individual MP has to introduce their ideas is via a private members bill (PMB). Of the 300+ MPs a 'random' draw is employed to choose which members get to introduce a bill. Only 20 members are selected, the other 280 have no right to propose legislation formally. The lucky winners are then lined up in a queue. A PMB is usually used as a test balloon for more controversial bills by the member's party to give the party sufficient distance from the hot policy. It is rare that a private members bill passes into law. If a federal election is called then the bills die on the order table.

"A private member's bill follows the same legislative process as a government bill, but the time allocated for its consideration is restricted. Private Members' Bills may be considered only during one of the daily Private Members' Hours." ~wiki

Many MPs express frustration in being handcuffed from having a voice that is free of manipulation from the party whip. However there are rare occasions where a free vote is called. Sometimes a vote may be free for some parties but not for others.

Private Members' Public Bills Passed by Parliament
http://www2.parl.gc.ca/Parlinfo/Compilat...bills.aspx

I'm an advocate for abolishing the party system altogether. A representative should be responsible and accountable to the electorate that put him in the position to represent their interests without the interference and subjugation to party whipping.

Proportional representation is a good alternative to the winner to combat vote splitting and strategic voting commonly used by the electorate to psychologically influence the public to pick the lesser of 2 evils. Instead they should pick the representative that reflects their own moral values and code most closely. Impeachment and removal of a party member is crucial so that members can be held accountable for their election promised to help mitigate the compulsive pathological liars from being elected constantly without any public recourse or fear of dismissal from their position.

A new electoral system can more fairly reflect the will of the people. I had proposed a system of proportional representation that would allow the electorate to rank their representatives in a 5-4-3-2-1 basis to discourage a strategic vote. It works much like a 2nd and 3rd ballot but can be cast in only a single voting action. A large contingent of voters are subjected to less of a vote because they live in high density areas this gives people in rural areas a higher weighting when it comes to deciding their representatives.

"A 2010 report by an Ontario think tank, the Mowat Centre for Policy Innovation, concluded that House of Commons seat allocations may violate constitutional equal representation by population principles. Current seat allocations may overrepresent the weight of votes cast in rural/regional provinces, to the detriment of larger and more diverse populations voting in Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta. For example, the average population per electoral district in British Columbia is over three times as large as that of Prince Edward Island." ~wiki

In addition to being disproportionate and unconstitutional, when congress was first introduced we had parliament consisting of about the same amount of MPs but with a much smaller population. The public voice is now grossly underrepresented in Canada. as The US is far more concentrated at the federal level but they have stronger powers at the state level but those are in a dangerous trend of being eroded.

33,311,400 (2008 Census) / 308 MPs = 1MP per 108,154 people

A large federal representation is criticized as highly impractical by many of its opponents. I retort this with the fact that they would be far less corruptible if there were thousands of reps (a ten fold increase would be a good start), rather than hundreds, this would make them much harder to control and give them the time to fulfil a wider berth of their public consultation duties. In this age of connection via the internet and even teleconferencing an MP can reside in their riding for the term rather than be subjected to the indoctrination of the concentrated lobbies in Ottawa. Being a permanent local resident not only allows for closer relations with the electorate that they represent but allows the people to voice their dissent more directly. A mob outside an MPs house bearing torches and waving pitchforks has proven quite effective in the past.

More importantly federal powers must be limited. Especially in Canada because of its wide geographic berth and ethnic mosaic. Regional and local governance should be allocated far more powers to better serve the needs of the regional and local community rather than being forced into federal compliance for matters that are irrelevant or counteract regional interests.

The Canadian Action Party

Since we're on the topic of Canadian government I couldn't help but to plug a party.

There is virtually (and predictably) no press coverage on this party. The Canadian Action Party has a small but loyal following and was recently infiltrated (long story) and nearly destroyed as a result. What remains is a gutted but resilient group of intelligent activists. They were founded in the 70s and their policies include banking reform, corporate reform and taking back national sovereignty. Realistically it is more of a platform for discussion and raising awareness of core issues with a longer term goal of instilling policies that benefit the people as opposed to the status quo, centrist corporate rule.

Change from within the system is highly unlikely but I commend and support a party that encourages open discussion and introduces new ideas for national governance.

Parallel systems of government and hence law and banking via succession may be a more productive use of time and effort than trying to remould a system (that is designed to be hard to repeal) that is not only national but intertwined and under contract and treaty with global interests. But Canada should be prepared for or recruit allies in pro-sovereign nations in anticipation of a backlash from globalist interests (see Lech Kaczynski and Polish government assassination).

Canadian Action Party
http://canadianactionparty.ca/

If you are so inclined, see you on the forum.

There are no others, there is only us.
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06-16-2010, 07:15 PM
Post: #4
RE: Canada’s Deepening Democracy Crisis
you touched on a lot of the problems with our system of rep. I'd like to add it's the quality of who runs for office is also a problem, if were to increase mp's 10 fold then we need to eliminate the pay or drop it to a standard around 30,000 so people are entering politicts because they care and want to make a diff not for the cash and pansions and pensions only after 25 yrs served (not need to be consecutive) not just 3 terms which as we all know from minority govs and crentien can be from 1 yr to 3 yrs in lengthIcon_sad

defiantly mps should remain @ home all the time and the house of commons can be holographic ally represented, so votes r still done, and they assemble but no travel too much is wasted on mp housing. travel, and staffer expenses. i'd see the 2 senators per province elected or set to term by a premier of life. Melt the maritime though into one and create a southern maritime out of the 4 countries down there who have been begging to be canadian!

i know of the canadian action party but like the marijuana party or the rino they can never expect to win even one seat, and the focus should be to win seats the greens may break through if they could make a solid message, as a canadian i would never vote for single issue or retroric parties as the Action's appear to be, that was why i liked Reform it was a policy party. they laid it all out and offered the public to poke holes (as did UPC, though they encouraged platform theft as they just wanted the changes and didn't care who did them) the problem is the people have been so dumbed down and there is not enough debates if the electiuon cycle last 3 weeks then there should be 15 debates, covering all issues and on cbc so all can see!!! and by riding same thing the pm or party leaders spend most of the election pumping hands and saying nothing just photo opping or promising things behind closed doors none of us would want...

we live in a sound bite media era and with only one media, dangerous times thats why Lord Black was so important to canada, he was a voice not owned by Aspen and the jews. but like i said now I find myself with out a party to surport and of a mind set that it matters not anymore as were are well on the path to a north american union. from the new ultra super hwy from mexico to winnipeg, to one currency, ect. now it's just bout finding the best of provinces and hoping to survive. sadly i live in the worse one of all ontario, highest taxes, most unemployment (not percentage but by numbers) and highest utility and insurance costs!!! MOre block parties need to form and then form a colition gov, there was talki nt the 90's of an ontario block party and reform was basically a western block it is the only way to get representation.

and re the party whip, all votes should be free ones when the liberals were voting FOR child porn, several members could be seen voting with tears in there eyes so against such disgusting policy they were, but forced to vote as a unit.

were you suggesting your on the forum at Action Fast tad? i may check it out see how there roster for next election is looking. it would really piss off the local conservatives were i to take up that banner. Some r still volcal bout me leaving when harper became party head and about my out spokenness against him Icon_biggrin

(as a side note it is the man Harper i am not a fan of not the conservatives as a whole i mentioned why above)

Remember Knowledge is the only thing THEY can't take from you, and Knowledge is Know how, and Know how is Power!!!

Live long and Prosper!!!! Have a plan beyond words, and worry not of why the storm is coming as to how you're going to survive in it!!!!

Deathanyl @gmail!!!!!!
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06-16-2010, 08:58 PM
Post: #5
RE: Canada’s Deepening Democracy Crisis
I am more for a succession approach, there are too many roadblocks and international committments to proceed with the change from within course. Although I don't completely rule it out, there is a lot of work to be done if that path is taken. Interesting proposal with the Blok parties, pros and cons - I'll think on that. Either way change of any kind rests in the actions of individuals on what they say, buy, give time to, focus their talents, accept money for, spend money on, grow, build, teach and share.

I treat the CAP is a group of concerned citizens with a level of awareness high enough to see and propose solutions for the real issues. Using the current political system as a tool / platform to educate and encourage discussion is fair game. I'm on the modest CAP forum. I won't vote in a system that does not represent its own citizens, that would only validate the corrupt process.

Overall Reform was a good grassroots party with some good ideas like a EEE senate, remnants of it persist in the Conservative party.

There are no others, there is only us.
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06-16-2010, 10:11 PM
Post: #6
RE: Canada’s Deepening Democracy Crisis
too few remnants for my liking, check out the UPC I googled but got nothing.. utopia Party of Canada, lots of good policies, and short simple explanations. i'm sure i have a few on an old hd just don't know where...

i will check out action's site, curious r we only canadians on site... no other feed back or input .....

i agree that the change from with in is near impossible thats what makes a block for each region party very attractive. As them in power we could re-write the deal, and fix the broken system. Only other way is next time a governing party gets a super majority like when the liberals began last dynasty it should be fixed. No one party will do it that exist today and to bring a new party up to get a super majority is near impossible, but a unified Bloc party with common interests could fix it in a term and not let the old parties affect the out come and then dissolve to let the old parties work with in the new system, the parties r about shared ideals and currently a majority of canadians have no home for there vote since none of the above is there option and they stay home. unfortunately this means the MSM gets to keep picking our leaders.

Grass roots is the way to go, look how well the 21st century and grass roots took Obama Suspicious no seriously but for real with Sen Ron Paul republican. And he is building up supporters as he has real plans and addresses REAL issues where as the fluff is only good for one or two max primaries b4 they r forgotten, like i said the republicans ONLY chance that i see from MSM to beat OBAMA will be some one like him with a strong military man as his vp, say Colin PowellEatdrink007

the diff is in canada though instead of having to be so focused on a candidate you focus the adds and the ideas as party ones and only recruit others who believe the same things in each region. first thing is to get the ball rolling a few years or at least one b4 an election under the guise of a citizens awareness thing about how gov works and how it can be fixed, keep a face book page and a web site and that stuff, but All expenses into advertisement, and then find locals in regions who have simular ideas and face/ name recognition who are serious and pop the questions for them to run, get 150 seats, i'm sure you can count the 40 odd the bloc has now as participants as anything that gets the deal re written will role, let them and every region think that there going to get the upper hand, but in the end make a stable and fair end result, just to get the chance to do it!
i could tell you the 9 i'd select for the ottawa region, and a few i'd approach for toronto, and of the ones i know they r already independently wealthy if it were to actually pick up just 4 years to go in history and no pay..... i think vanity is part of the political appeal, and of course LegacyIcon_biggrin

If you ran 120 outside quebec and won 50, you would have more then the other parties enough to form a minority gov, and so force the other parties you could absorb some after the election folks who hate the whip and who 's margin of victory was slim enough that they know there constituantions were wanting change, and some just chose to favor them.

I placed the same idea at a conference about 10 years ago and thats how i met the UPC, and wasted a year learning all the back door-ness of politics. And what the rules r and how to get a party rolling and candidates registered and such.

Remember Knowledge is the only thing THEY can't take from you, and Knowledge is Know how, and Know how is Power!!!

Live long and Prosper!!!! Have a plan beyond words, and worry not of why the storm is coming as to how you're going to survive in it!!!!

Deathanyl @gmail!!!!!!
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