Bring back participatory democracy

Resident calls for changes to how federal governments are elected

A couple of recent letters to the editor have taken MP Colin Mayes to task for various statements he has made in his community reports.

The letters have made me think about what kind of Canada I want to live in, and I have concluded that it is not the vision of Mr. Mayes or the Conservative Party of Canada.

In November 2013, Mr. Mayes obtained a ticket for me, as one of his constituents, to attend Question Period in the House of Commons.

The custom is to place visitors directly opposite the party of their MP, and I was able to stare at the Conservative majority for the entire time.

It was not pleasant. The backbenchers were mostly bored.

Who could blame them? They had no voice.

Almost all questions were answered by one person, MP Paul Calandra, who responded to several reasonable questions from Tom Mulcair, leader of the opposition, by reading the same answer over and over from a script he held in his hand.

Calandra’s answers were intended to make fun of the democratic process.

I saw the same thing in a recent Question Period when Mr. Mulcair again asked reasonable questions about the role of Canadians in military conflict and the sole responding Conservative MP read from a meaningless script.

This has led me to conclude that we may have the right to vote, but we do not have participatory democracy where all voices are heard and acknowledged, even after the election.

In a participatory democracy, the ruling majority would not push through huge amounts of legislation that hide their desires to control the general public, as the Conservatives have done in their omnibus bills.

The prime minister would be available to the general public to answer for policies, not just play to the base.

For example, crime has gone down so the Conservatives enact much more severe penalties.

Poverty has increased so the Conservatives make it more impossible than ever to determine the true numbers of the poor.

I was as shocked as all other Canadians by the events of Oct. 22 in the House of Commons, but does this mean we should all be subject to further surveillance and loss of our rights and freedoms?

Fifteen years ago, the thought of the Alliance/Reform Party ruling Canada seemed comical (remember Stockwell Day’s wetsuit?).

Yet the party of Mr. Day, Mr. Duffy and Ms. Wallin seems to be in power.

At least in the forthcoming election we have alternatives.

Some people may choose to vote for Pierre Trudeau’s son who may or may not have the qualities (or lack of them) of his father.

Or, we could all try saying, “Prime Minister Mulcair.”

It’s possible.

In the words of Jack Layton, as quoted by Jacqui Gingras, “Don’t let them tell you it can’t be done.”

M.L. de Zwar

Vernon