Monday, October 19, 2015

Did I vote today? Heck no!

No, I did not vote today. Instead, I voted days ago at an advance poll. I am so desperate for  change that I could not wait. In Celtic Lightning, I identify Democracy as one of Canada's five foundational values, and show how it took hold in this country thanks to such figures as Robert Burns, Daniel O'Connell, John A. Macdonald, and Thomas D'Arcy McGee. The Democracy section of the book begins as follows . . .

In October 2014, Canadians were outraged by the cowardly, cold-blooded murder of a soldier standing on ceremonial duty in Ottawa. We were angry that the gunman had then been able to race into the House of Parliament and wound several guards before dying in a hail of bullets. We were glad that this hateful fanatic was cut down before he could do any more damage. And the next day, we felt proud when our elected representatives returned to Parliament Hill and, after a brief but emotional display of solidarity, went back to work. Canadian democracy was alive and well.
Less than one month later, an Ontario judge sent a former Conservative Party staffer to jail for violating the Canada Elections Act. Michael Sona got nine months for “an affront to the electoral process.” He was convicted in the “robocalls” scandal for preventing or trying to prevent electors from voting. Twenty-two years old at the time, Sona sent out 6,700 automated phone calls with misleading information about how to vote.
The judge described this as “a deliberate and considered course of criminal conduct designed to subvert the inherent fairness of the electoral process.” The federal election was not “some Grade 8 election campaign for student council,” he said, but was held “to elect representatives who form the governing body of our nation.” The bottom line message? To Canadians, the democratic process could not be more dear.
Canada’s parliamentary variation, in which the prime minister is responsible to the legislature, derives from the Westminster model of Great Britain. The same is true of the way we conduct elections: first-past-the-post, winner-take-all. This voting system frequently creates governments that a majority of Canadians do not want, which is why we should probably introduce a measure of proportional representation. But to abandon the egalitarian principle of democracy, one citizen one vote -- for Canadians, that is unthinkable. Democracy is so deeply rooted in Canada as to be inseparable from this country’s existence. . . .

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