Friday, February 4, 2011

The Courts Must Intercede to Release the Institutional Lock that Our Political Parties Have Upon Political Power

Looking at the situation in Quebec and at the federal level, it is evident that the political class has usurped the political power of the population at large.

In Quebec, the Parti Quebecois is unable to tell us whether it would hold a referendum on independence during its first mandate for fears that such a declaration would hurt its electoral chances.

Give me a break. It's article number one of your political platform. If you don't have the balls to come out and say it directly, it's because there isn't the necessary support of the majority of the electors for such a proposal.

And this represents the alternative government option to the present government, the scandal-plagued, thoroughly incompetent, Charest-led, Quebec Liberals.

These are the choices?

Things aren't any better on the federal front. The system offers us a variant of the Quebec voting dilemma. Do we continue to support the Harper-led Conservatives, who we return to power by default because of a medieval electoral system, or do we turf them in favor of the Liberals, who are surrounded still by the stench of corruption?

Again, these are the choices?

Yes, they are!

Alternative voices are systemically under-represented or eliminated altogether. In fact, the electoral campaign is no longer about trying to attract more votes. Instead, it's about slagging your opponent to turn as many electors off as possible so they won't go out to vote and doing a better job than your opponents in getting out the vote from your core supporters.

Democracy, Shamocracy. This is rule by the professional politician.

And what are the chances that any of the political parties that offer a legitimate government option will make qualitative changes to the political system to render it more democratic?

Slim and none!

In the words of Peter H. Russell, eminent Canadian constitutional expert, "those who would can't, and those who could won't."

In other words, there are sufficient institutional incentives that keep the system in place and make it impervious to systemic change. In political science, this state of affairs is referred to as "institutional lock."

Given the traditional media's role in supporting the status quo, the only recourse to bringing about a change to the system is through the courts. The leverage point is, of course, the electoral system, and the point of attack is the discriminatory voting method that systemically distorts the popular will in favor of the will of professional politicians.

Fortunately, there now exists the opportunity for the judges at the Quebec Court of Appeal in hearing the appeal of the plaintiffs in Gibb v. the Attorney General of Quebec to make history and create a rupture with our colonial past and our continued existence as an English Settler State.

Essentially, the Court must decide if we have any pretension to live in a democracy or are we a Shamocracy, a nation that has popular elections in which the objective is to prevent the population from truly engaging in self government.

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