Undemocratic proceedings… again

So anyone that may be as dull as me to follow the House of Commons debates on a daily basis may find it disturbing to observe something like this. I happened to be watching a debate go on regarding a time allocation motion on Bill S-8 “Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act.” Originating in the Senate, this bill is being debated before parlament attempting to obtain royal consent and the opposition is opposing the time allocation motion as there is not sufficient time to debate it, at least that’s what they argue.

What is so noteable about this? Well the absolute politeness-rudeness expressed by the Honourable Minister in this debate between him and Ms. Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party of Canada. It goes as follows:

Ms. Elizabeth May (Saanich—Gulf Islands, GP):
Mr. Speaker, rising as we are now to debate time allocation, I want to preempt the usual response from government members who say, “What a shame, the member has raised a process question rather than on the substance of the bill”.

This is a moment to debate process on a time allocation motion, and I am on topic.

At the time allocation motion on Bill C-60, I made the point that members of the House who are not members of large political parties in this place never get an opportunity to speak to a bill when time allocation is applied. I have never been given a speaking opportunity on any bill once time allocation is applied. Last time, on the Bill C-60 debate, the minister said, “Why don’t you just go to committee?”

I will make the point. I have never been allowed to speak at committee due to objections from other parties.

This is an anti-democratic process of constantly imposing time allocation. It is unfair to members in this place and I regard it as a violation of the basis of democracy.

Hon. Bernard Valcourt (Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, CPC):
I note the opinion of the member, Mr. Speaker.

May, Elizabeth. “Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act” Edited Hansard. Canada. Parliament. House of Commons. 41st Parl., 1st sess. Vol. 146 No. 249. 2013. Parliament of Canada. Web. 09 May. 2013.

What strong debate we have, when the honourable member raises a completely valid point, and is completely rebuffed. In fact, the camera didn’t even get to Mr. Valcourt to show him stand to say such a remark with audacity. I honestly believe that he was probably looking at his papers and didn’t even bother to look to the Speaker in this instance. What audacity.

All I can do is shake my head… A member of parliament is blocked from speaking, having an opinion, and joining committee; what kind of democratic process is that?

My political two cents

After watching the two official language leadership debates I have become a little more political than I normally have, and would like to share some thoughts. I share no political affiliation with any Canadian Political Party (or otherwise), and solicit no donations to political organizations on the basis of neutrality. I believe what I believe and I don’t need a label to identify myself. I’ve often considered myself socially leftist, and fiscally conservative. So here are the issues that concern me:

1) Proportional Representation and Voting Reform
Too long has my voice been silenced by the Westminister model and first past the post system. I currently live in a democracy, so why can’t my voice be heard? Why would the country be so against voting reform when everyone is screaming that nobody cares, and voting apathy takes over? The rest of the non-English speaking world has found effective methods of representing their constituents: why can’t Canada? Further to this, the young vote has never ever really been addressed, and it frankly feels like being a young person means that I don’t have any opportunity to do anything or make a difference. It’s sad that I don’t trust anyone to vote for them, and play with the idea of being a politician myself. At least then I could be honest to the people I talk to, though maybe not be elected.

2) Education and Professional Training Programmes
It’s no secret that I did a great deal of my education abroad. Although I’ve garnered three university degrees, and two professional certificates I still am unable to participate in the career path that I wanted to. I did the majority of my education abroad, specifically in France. Why you ask? Because it was the only place that I could afford it. University in France is public and affordable. They promote education and allow people to get to where they want to be. When I moved to Canada, my professional degrees and certificates were denied by the acting organisations in charge. I was told to go back to school in Canada to redo the degrees that I already spent five years obtaining. As if I had the money to do that: education in this country is not affordable. Why treat doctors from other countries so poorly and regale them to working in coffee shops and being street sweepers? They have professional credentials that need 1 to 2 year transitions to the host country system, at affordable rates. End of story.

3) Health and Long Term Care
It’s no secret that the health system covers all, but is often ineffective. With five million citizens not having a family doctor, how can anyone end up getting service without going to the emergency room at hospitals? People default to going to emerg because they can’t get health care otherwise. Lack of services, or long term waiting for critical issues isn’t acceptable. Why is it that the health associations that protect Canadians often fail them? It’s no surprise that people are getting less and less healthy, but why can’t we address the cause rather than fix the present? It’s ineffective usage of public money for services that are essential. Especially with the baby boom generation getting older, a huge strain will be put on the health care system where everyone isn’t protected. This also extends for privatised health insurance. I don’t have company benefits, and I can’t afford private health insurance, so if I were to fall ill tomorrow I could suffer great financial loss just to get better, and risk my income being lost due to poor health. That’s sad.

4) National Debt
With economic strains hitting the world, why do countries continue to have huge deficits and racking up national debt? Can we not readjust spending from say, fighter jets (jab jab), to paying down the majority of debt to ensure that the country doesn’t need bailouts like other countries? It’s a longshot I know, but debt in general makes me nervous beyond words.

5) Parliamentary Responsibilities and Transparent Governments
I’m sick of hearing of scandals by one ministry or other governmental organisations or parliamentarians. Why aren’t things transparent? Why are there needs for bureaucracy for request for information requests? Why do we even need things like that? Why has the people lost faith in governments? We are tax-payers, so the people that work should be accountable to us, not anyone else.

6) Taxes
Personal taxes? Corporate taxes? Sales taxes? I don’t mind a tax, if I’m getting something for it. Over the last five years the Government Sales Tax (GST) has dropped by 2%. Why was it necessary and why hasn’t it changed? Why do corporations who have huge incomes and executives get tax breaks while the everyday person gets hit with much more negative factors to their well being. I’m a low income youngster, hourly, no benefits, no job security, and I feel squeezed by everything. The whole situation just makes me want to leave.

So there you have it. As you can see my concerns are widespread and can’t really be identified for any particular affiliation. So this is why I’m so conflicted with the upcoming federal election on May 2, 2011. I feel like I don’t even want to participate, because no matter what I do or say, nothing will be done.

It also doesn’t help that I have 5 candidates in my riding that are raging idiots.

And for the record, yes I’m a legal voter, and retain my right to vote in two federal elections when they arise.

Ontario Elections

Lessons from the Ontario election
Norman Webster, The Gazette (Montréal), 14/10/2007

Wednesday’s vote in Ontario should send reverberations across the land. Like it or not, what happens politically in Canada’s largest province counts, big time. And there were some disagreeable aspects to the exercise that should give us all pause.

For starters, barely a majority of Ontario’s eligible voters – 52.8 per cent of them – bothered to make the trek to the polling booth. That is well down from 2003’s poor 56.9-per-cent turnout; it’s comparable to those dismal figures posted by U.S. voters which we so like to cite when vaunting our superior Canadian citizenship.

If the numbers continue to drop, both federally and provincially, Canada could become a country where a majority of voters cannot be bothered to get off their patooties and exercise their franchise in major elections. It poses real questions about the legitimacy of the system.

There was a second significant number Wednesday night – 22 per cent. That is the portion of the electorate (42 per cent of 52.8) that actually voted to re-elect Dalton McGuinty’s Liberal government.

“Sweeping victory,” said the headlines, and so it was – in seats, which are all that count in our system. McGuinty can now, if he wishes, slide into comfortable-dictator mode à la Jean Chrétien, based on the support of less than one-quarter of the voters. You don’t have to be a political scientist to discern further questions about legitimacy.

Ironically, at the same time they were sending McGuinty back to his big corner office at Queen’s Park, Ontario’s voters were turning down a proposal that would have mitigated such questionable triumphs in the future. An electoral reform known as mixed member proportional would have added seats to the parties according to the popular vote, bringing the result closer to the overall will of the voters.

The initiative was turned down flat, by 67 per cent of those voting. It is the third reform proposal to bite the dust in a referendum, following British Columbia and Prince Edward Island. B.C. came closest, with a 57.7-per-cent vote in favour, but the bar had been set beforehand at 60 per cent approval, so the reform didn’t carry.

The Ontario result is another heavy blow to the earnest reformers. What the voters are saying is that they prefer the evils of the system they know – the British-model of first-past-the-post – to the unknowns of proportional rep.

If any reform is to pass in future, including in Quebec, it must be simple (B.C.’s proposal made your head hurt), be firmly based on individual members representing individual ridings, not be redolent of European systems that produce a haughty political class, not be prey to the instability of small parties (example: Israel) and, most important, be fully understood by the voters before being put to them for adoption (emphatically not the case in Ontario; hardly anyone had a clue about what was going on).

This might take some time, which is far from all bad when significant change is involved. What isn’t acceptable is turnouts of 52.8 per cent and dropping. As the editorial writers like to say, Something Must Be Done.

Finally, a bit worryingly, the whole election turned on Conservative leader John Tory’s pledge to support faith-based separate schools with public funds. The promise turned out to be political suicide. McGuinty seized the issue and ran with it, summing things up in his victory speech Wednesday night: “We work and build and dream together … always, always, always, together.”

That’s a fine sentiment, but to some those are code words for not accommodating the immigrant Others and their differences in the new Canada. And so we have an Ontario election lost on unspoken fears of Islamic madrassas in Toronto the Good – not to mention a Quebec election hijacked by a soccer player wearing a head covering, or wacky proposals to ban hijabs and yarmulkes on public employees.

Canada’s largest, most important province has sent a message about integration and cultural differences; it wants more of the first and less of the second, at least when it means special treatment. Politics, religion, schooling, race are potentially volatile areas.

Which is not to accuse Ontarians of collective racism. Thirty years ago, when I covered Queen’s Park, streams of immigrants were changing the face of old streets and districts almost overnight. Some of the locals reacted badly, but the majority coped magnificently.

Since then, the pressure has only increased. Toronto now might be the most multicultural city in the world, an outstanding success story in how the world should work.

Every so often, though, the locals send a message. They sent one Wednesday.

And so after a long four year wait, the people of Ontario went to the polls (or didn’t) in order to choose thier new government, and here are my thoughts on the results. My first reaction is, how I feel sorry for the stupidity of the people that live in this province, but at the same time can understand it because having lived there, I can understand their ignorance. Living in subrbian Toronto, one would think that it’s a tolerant place, but in fact it’s quite the opposite. The streets are riddled with rascist sentiments, especially towards asians, russians, and muslim people. It’s by a vast majority the population over the age of thirty, but still, a rascist sentiment is a rascist sentiment; it’s not in the annunciation.

Dalton McGuinty and his Liberals from Ontario? I can live with that, it’s the lesser of two evils that only had a chance. Main issue number one, faith based schools. I disagree with this completely; and not with a rascist sentiment. I can understand if it’s a private sector, but to make it public will riddle the problems beyond words. The whole idea of immigration to a country consists of several things, living in the destined country, and following their norms and laws. Why should everything conform to every possible immigrant origin, just because they want it? If it’s the case, then what’s wrong with francophone Canadians to demand their independance; but that’s another story. The point is, don’t publically fund it, and make them conform. Through conformist actions, especially in education, you set a standard and a president; of tolerance and acceptance. That’s ultimately what we want right? A tolerant and accepting environment for our children; not seperatist, rascist and other attitudes that arise.

Low voter turnout? Not surprising, make it possible for people out of province to vote and I would have; Ontario sucks in that respect. The Conservatives won in my riding, with Frank Klees, and I’m not impressed. Another four years with a Conservative person who can do nothing except sit there and look pretty; and he doesn’t even achieve that. It’s like Julia Monroe all over again, but this time it’s even worse because it’s a man and the chances of a woman MMP were shattered; poor choice Newmarket-Aurora. Green came third and beat NDP by a lot; go team, although I never would have voted such a way.

Voting reform is the most important issue of this election, in my opinion. I am angered, enraged even by the ignorance of Ontario residence. They flatly rejected electoral reform that moves away from the useless voting system. Did anyone ever think of why voting turnouts are so low? It’s because people like me are discouraged to vote becasue it means nothing if for whom you vote, doesn’t win. The first-past-the-post system only takes into account, in all ways, the people who voted for the party, or representative who wins, otherwise it’s a waste, and my vote does feel like a waste. So why would they reject something to change that?

Sure they might not understand the other system, but do something like my dear old mother did; ask someone and do research on it. From what I understand she supports it, because it will giv
e smaller parties more right, example Green (rather than marxist for example), as well as increase women representatives in parliament. The point is that everyone who voted “yes” is so discouraged because they wanted change, but the ignorant people set old in their ways want to guard their power. So I say to them, if you don’t like what’s being done in government, shut the fuck up about it because you’re the one who prevented change.

We talk about this when we talk about the French Revolution. The pesants and bourgeois people were enranged and something had to be done, nothing in particular, just something. Something needs to be done, but right now I care less and less because I’m leaving.