The colour I am using for this post represents my general feelings on this election.
I feel that this election was not necessary and will accomplish little. I do not feel I can trust much of what any of the federal party leaders are telling me. And have probably not followed this election as much as I should have.
That said, one of my mantras are "if you are not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem".
Now I am specifically talking about the democracy we have in Canada.
We have three branches of Government, namely:
Executive - the Cabinet and the Bureaucracy that execute business and laws in Canada,
Legislative - who discuss, debate and make laws,
Judicial - who are responsible for deciding whether laws have been broken and if so, what the punishment will be...
We basically have three levels of democratic government.
MUNICIPAL - responsible for things directly affecting communities (policing, fire fighting, snow removal, garbage collecting and recycling, etc)
FEDERAL - composed of three arms:
Governor General more titular in nature and representative of the British Monarchy (who we, as a constitutional monarchy, recognize as our Head of State),
The House of Commons - Members of Parliament that represent ridings (based on population) and may or may not be affiliated with one of the major parties, who sit and debate federal legislation. The party with the most seats forms the government, and all the rest of the parties/independent candidates form the opposition. Three main functions are: debate and vote on legislation, give opposition a chance to question what government is doing with the legislation, and act as a platform for individual members to promote issues or events.
The Senate - originally formed to create a level of sober second thought and to prevent the tyranny or the masses. Suffice to say there is much debate as to its efficacy. Originally conceived by United Empire Loyalists to limit their "mob rule" impression of American democracy, the original concept was to have men of power and wealth who would act as a safety valve against reaction-ism.
Many Canadians feel that appointments to the senate are now made politically and that this arm does not work effectively or efficiently. There are varying arguments for the abolishment of the Senate to the creation of a American style elected senate and several options in between.
Federally, Bills are debated and proposed in the House of Commons, and then sent to the Senate for clause by clause review (though officially having VETO power - it is rarely used), and if not approved, could be sent back to the House of Commons for review, or stall passage (effective near the end of a federal term). When Senate approval is attained, the Governor General give the Bill Royal Assent and it becomes law.
PROVINCIAL - set-up similarly to the federal government without the senate.
FYI, in Canada our federal government has traditionally had more power than the federal government in the US, and conversely our provincial governments have less power than state governments in the US.
I know that I believe in Democracy philosophically, the major issues I have with the Democracy I am experiencing is with the application of it, and I feel, at the present time, overcome by a general malaise... I do believe are version, perhaps with some modification to the senate, can be effective, much more so than the proportional representation some countries use. It is my opinion that in that form of democracy, the party with the incremental vote giving a majority wields disproportionate power.
I think the root of my concerns over our system come down to the following issues.
We have a system where our one choice results in two decisions. We choose a member of parliament to represent us with our issues, but also cumulatively the party that will form the government. So, often, we have to make compromises by not voting for the party we would like to have form the government so that we elect the person who would most represent the riding, or by voting for the candidate that represents the party we would like to form the government, rather than for the candidate that would best represent us.
In order for a democracy to be truly effective, it assumes and requires and informed public, and decisions based on the collective analysis of the information attained. In theory it seems very effective. In reality, few people actually know the issues and how it relates to them, relying on general superficial impressions of either the candidates, the parties they represent, or the leader of the parties they represent, or relying on newsbites and commentary in the media. I also wonder with the changes in analysis, polling and the instantaneous dessemination of information, if this information that is bombarding us is negatively affecting our ability to make good (for us) decisions...
I also feel that there is a real lack of accountability at a personal and at a party level. Candidates make promises, I feel, that they have little intention of keeping and/or are impossible to keep at the outset, and they know it. Perhaps this is contributing to the lower percentages of voting public in recent history. Ultimately, this is OUR fault. The best answer we can give is to hold our candidates and parties accountable, gather information, make a decision and then vote.
I have long since stopped wanting to influence people to think my way... as I have grown older and experience more life, what I really want is for people to take a good look at what are the issues that concern them, look at how the parties feel about your concerns, look at how the local candidates feel about your concerns, make a decision based on which combination of candidate/party, you feel will best serve you, and then vote.
I have decided to take some time and find out for myself. I will visit the candidates and parties websites (trying to avoid any bias in the media) and try and weigh what is more important to me (and the main issue, for me, is that no party is even close to a perfect choice), the party that forms our government, or the candidate that represents my riding and find the best compromise decision that I feel will serve my family and tomorrow I will vote.