Monday, October 19, 2015

The Reason I'm Not Voting In Today's Election Is That Canada Does A Poor Job Of Protecting Voting Rights

OK Canada, you win.  Keep your outdated voting system.  Continue to outsource the nation's governance function to one person and his inner circle.  Carry on with this democratic farce called the general election.  I'll have none of it.

I used to believe that it is worth the effort to engage in politics in Canada, but no longer.  I know that in the desire to transfer the sovereignty of the nation's citizens to the winner of an electoral contest, the political party that wins the most of 338 simultaneously held elections across the land, my Charter Right to vote gets flushed down the toilet.
 
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The reason?  My vote will not count.  It is completely ineffective because if I vote according to my heart, to my values, in other words, for the Green Party of Canada, I know in advance that voting for the Green Party candidate is a total waste of time in this joke of an electoral system that dates from the medieval ages.

According to the Supreme Court, Section 3 of the Charter guarantees the right to vote, meaning the right to participate meaningfully in the electoral process.  Well then, how meaningfully is it to participate in an electoral process in which your vote does not count?

There is no way around it.  The practice of ensuring that millions of votes cast across Canada are totally ineffective does not jive with the values that inform the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the values of a free and DEMOCRATIC society.  First-Past-The-Post is profoundly undemocratic.

And it would be so simple to rectify the problem.  Simply put into place a proportional voting system.  This was the recommendation of the Law Commission of Canada, the former federally funded organization that examined the societal ramifications of Canada's legal system until it had its funding cut by the present government.

At this point, you might think that this is a matter for the Courts to decide.  Been there, done that.  We took this question to the Supreme Court of Canada, which simply refused to hear the case, leaving me totally flabbergasted since the entire case was based on the jurisprudence coming from the Supreme Court.  I find it completely unsettling and shattered my confidence in the justice system when the highest court in the land that takes the time and effort to define what is meant by the right to vote in a previous case dealing with the right of candidates to have their political party affiliation on the ballot (an impairment that affected less than one tenth of one percent of all votes cast) and then not to apply the same said principles in the much more important institutional practice that translates votes into seats in Parliament (a process that affects all the votes cast).

WTF?  Where am I living?  The Dominion of Canada?

In my present situation, the electoral system adds insult to injury.  Not only will my vote be wasted, I have to cast it in an electoral riding that has had it boundaries redrawn to maintain the constitutional requirement determined by the Supreme Court that all of the ridings need to have a relatively equal number of electors.  In my case, I happen to live in a section of the former city of Hull in Quebec that has been transferred to the rural riding of the Pontiac during the 2012 electoral redistribution. 

Sorry, as a resident of an urban centre, my concerns are very much different from the concerns of the farming communities in Western Quebec.  So, why am I being lumped in with them?  Because it's a constitutional requirement?  You mean the same constitution that doesn't guarantee that my vote will be an effective one?  Get out of town.

In other words, to save some semblance of legitimacy for this out-dated electoral system, those who have been entrusted in drawing up the electoral boundaries have to engage in a process of gerrymandering the electoral map in order to comply with Section 3 of the Charter as defined by the Supreme Court of Canada, the same Court that could easily declared First-Past-The-Post null and void and avoided this entire mess but instead refused to even hear the case.

I find it extremely odd that I live in a country where, due to the intervention of the Supreme Court,  I could marry another man if I were so inclined, legally procure marijuana from a federal government approved provider if I have the necessary medical condition, and even end my days with the assistance of a doctor if I so chose, but I can't get my preferred voting intention to count.

Go figure.

In the end, I won't cast my vote today to protest the injustice of the electoral system, but I will watch the results as they come in.  Who knows, the New Democratic Party has promised to introduce a proportional voting system if they form the government.

No wonder they are trailing in the polls.  Canadians prefer to live in the Dominion of Canada than in a modern nation-state.   

3 comments:

  1. Yup .. throw your hands up in frustration and walk away .. way to go slugger ! #FAIL

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  2. You wrote: "the New Democratic Party has promised to introduce a proportional voting system if they form the government."

    As you must know, the NDP and the LPC and the GPC have all pledged that they will work to establish a non-partisan (by which they mean an all-party) committee or working group to implement a change in the voting system, so that this election is the last one conducted using the FPTP system.

    So,.. unless the Conservatives are a shoe-in for your riding, you have a reason for voting! No?

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  3. There is a long, long way between making promises during an electoral campaign and adopting legislation that changes the voting system. In Quebec, legislation was tabled but was never adopted. In BC, a referendum was held with the requirement of a super majority of 60% required to change the voting system. Although 58% of the electors voted for change, no change occurred. In my opinion, politicians elected by first-past-the-post are very comfortable with the status quo and the citizenry is far too complacent to effectively demand for democratic reform.

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