Statistics are showing (or so we are being told) that fewer and fewer Canadians vote. Commentators are lamenting this, some are suggesting that people who do not vote should be fined and all kinds of other nonsense.
The reasons why the percentage of Canadians actually voting isdecreasing are really very simple: our votes do not matter.
Oh, I understand – we get to vote in one band of politicians or another – and our votes matter in deciding which bunch gets in when. And, some politicians are worse than others.
But that is quickly becoming minutia, a cosmetic change rather than a substantive.
Because our very system is broken. And it is broken on multiple levels, which is why fixing it is not an easy proposition.
One level on which it is broken is the most easily visible one: our elected representatives are supposed to be answerable to us, the citizens….but, increasingly, they are only answerable to their own party leadership!
In other words, the party system we have in Parliament and in Provincial Legislatures has tipped the balances too far toward ‘party influence’ and away from ‘voter influence’. After all, if their nomination papers are not signed by the party leadership, a candidate must run as an independent: and just how many of those manage to get elected?!?!?
This gives the party leaders great power of control over their elected MPs! Too great an amount of power: to the point that the good/will of the party is the only thing our elected officials consider when ‘representing us’.
In a very real sense, we are no longer voting for our local representatives – when we cast our votes, we are voting for one or another party. Sure, it is still a choice to make – but it is not the choice our Parliamentary system was designed for. It is not the one for which the ‘checks and balances’ we have built into the system were designed. And it makes for very unresponsive government…because the policies of each party have to cover so many issues, we can only pick ‘bundle A’ vs ‘bundle B’ of good and bad things.
That is not the type of choice most people want: picking a lot of bad things, because among them are few good things you want. It means that no matter which party you are choosing, you are necessarily choosing some things you do not want, things you consider to be bad things. And, by voting, you are making those bad things happen.
People don’t like that. So, more and more don’t vote.
Because, when being forced to pick from several bad choices, most people prefer not to choose at all.
But that ‘level’ is only the most visible way in which our system is broken.
If the ‘party in power’ is the ‘what’ of the government policy, the civil service is the ‘how’.
I have personally seen and heard some high ranking civil servants explain exactly ‘how’ the elected politicians must be ‘handled’. Real life – not Sir Humphry Appelby. How what I thought to have been a uniquely ‘sound’ government policy which does not reflect the goals of the public service is contorted and the way it is implementation is sabotaged to the point where it not only fails, but fails in such a manner that it is obvious such an ill-conceived policy could never have worked and it failed because the politicians were too arrogant to listen to the experienced civil service experts!!!
Yes – to a degree much higher than most of us are aware of, we are being governed by a bunch of unknown, unseen, unaccountable high-level civil servants with a vision of their own: power through regulation.
Do you ever ask why is it that representatives of various government regulatory agencies have much, much greater powers than police do? Power to enter your property without a court order – and also without your knowledge, much less content. Power to take your stuff away from you ‘pending their investigation’? Do you even know the full extent of their powers?
It is a stealth-totalitarianism-through-red-tape!
In a state like that, the elected politicians are increasingly little more than window dressing. Why bother voting for them?
If I knew how to fix this, I would say so. I don’t. But, considering that most of these career bureaucrats have been in the public service for several decades before they have gained sufficient ‘influence’ and arrogance to sabotage policies they disagree with, I suspect we will need to bring in laws limiting the amount of time a person may serve in the public sector. Regulate the regulators, so to speak…
Sure, front line police officers and similar things – a different story. I don’t claim this is a well developed solution – to the contrary. It is more of a niggling suspicion that has been growing for a while .
These are just two of many failures in our governance structures – pretending there is no problem is only driving voters to apathy…
What do you think?