Thursday, March 31, 2011

Another Canadian Election

Well, Canadians are going to the polls again on May 2, 2011—the fourth time in seven years. Is this an indication that our democratic system is in decline? Does it reflect a lack of political will among our MPs to work together for the good of the nation? Or do our politicians have a deeper commitment to our democratic system by trying to engage Canadians more in politics through the process of elections? Or are there other factors at work as well?

The chief reason for an election this time round is the charge against the conservative government of contempt of parliament—which, until now, has no precedent in Canadian political history. The charge is a serious one, yet many Canadians who have been interviewed about the issue don’t seem too concerned. Rather, they complain about wasting taxpayer money on another election. Is such a complaint a clue that voter turnout is going to drop even lower than the last election? I hope not, but I think it is a possibility.

So far in the national media and on the web, one of the big stories is that of excluding Green Party leader Elizabeth May from the televised leaders’ debates. This is a broken record from the 2008 election. Eventually, thanks to plenty of citizens lobbying in protest, May was included. This time, the party has decided to go the route of a law suit after a decision of the media moguls to exclude May. Who are they to make such a decision? About one million Canadians voted for May in the last election, and now their voice is going to be silenced if the media moguls get their way. Equally as troubling is the lack of support among the present political party leaders to insist that May has as much a right to be present at the debates as they do. Why are the party leaders so silent and unsupportive of May being included in the debates? Does their silence and lack of support for May and willingness to go along with the decision of the media moguls not indict them? One would hope that common sense and the Canadian constitution would prevail on such matters to the extent that litigation would not be necessary and everyone involved in the exclusion of May would come to their senses.

On the home front locally, here in the Medicine Hat riding, our recently re-elected mayor, Norm Boucher has stirred up quite a bit of controversy by deciding to take a leave of absence without pay to run as a candidate for the Liberal Party. He has not been happy with the performance of our present Conservative MP, Lavar Payne. While the city councillors are by and large supportive of Boucher’s decision, many Hatters are not. His critics are wondering now about the ethics of such a decision—does the mayor not have a responsibility to commitment himself to the office of mayor rather than make a personal decision which takes precedent over his public office? Moreover, shall the mayor be able to garner the public’s respect and trust as mayor should he not be elected as the riding’s MP? The riding itself has been a Conservative stronghold for many years—in fact, I think one could likely register their pet dog or cat as a candidate and they’d be elected!

Whether the voters, politicians and leaders will be able to drop the focus on personal matters, and mud-slinging rhetoric and address the pressing, real live issues of our nation remains to be seen. A few musings on this late Thursday evening. Now I'd like to read your comments on the election, what do you think?

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