What is Wrong With the Canadian Political System?

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The principal of the Canadian democracy is representation but do we have that representation? I happen to think not. It really doesn't matter who is running in your riding, when you go to the polls, you are voting for the leader of that party. You cannot, under our system, elect representation for your riding. It is rare that your "representative" is permitted to vote his conscience (or your wishes) as opposed to the party line. Mr.[Joe] Clarke was the first and (as far as I know) only leader of this country who was prepared to allow his representatives to vote freely - to truly represent their constituents.

Well, what does happen if they are permitted to represent their constituents? A bill then goes to the (unelected - non-representative - rarely in attendance - very well paid - phenomenally pensioned) senate. The senate detracts from the representative system because these [non-] representatives are chosen without any consultation of the people. They do, however, make decisions on our future. Their only qualification to sit in the senate is "knowing the right people".

What this country needs is (in spite of Quebec's and the senators' objections) an abolition of the senate and an entrenchment of the right and, indeed, obligation of our elected "representatives" to represent their electorate, not their leader.

If this country is to progress as a democracy, we must, as our American neighbours to the south, have the right to vote for the prime minister and our riding representative. Obviously, it is not so simple a matter to fix these things as to speak of them, however, this would represent a far more democratic governmental system.

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Posted April 14, 1998
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