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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Who'll Speak for "...the Rest of Canada"?

Welcome to 2007. A new year is upon us and with it comes new ideas, new issues and new choices. None of which, will be easy for that segment of the population straddling Canada’s eastern and western flanks. Looking back over the past year and forward to the new one, I can’t help wondering what tomorrow will bring for “…the rest of Canada”.

2006 saw us turf out a corrupt government then elect an untested now unwanted one. A new government that began its term by silencing the unwashed masses through funding cuts to much needed services. The saddest thing is that we’ll soon make the same limited choices for our future as we did in the last election. With that in mind, I can’t help pondering the realities of Canadian politics. I also have to ask myself, among other things, if I should vote the next time around. It’s a tough question for someone who’s voted in every election since turning 18, but when you reach a point where you aren't asking yourself who will do the best job but who will do the least damage, tough decisions need to be made.

Let’s face it folks, if a party is to have any hope of taking office they need Ontario and Quebec and maybe, just maybe, a few scattered seats in “…the rest of Canada”. It’s nothing new under the sun. If you want to win an election and stay in office, you need support in Ontario and Quebec. Unfortunately that means “…the rest of Canada” has to take whatever those two provinces decide to thrust upon us, good bad or otherwise. This time around will be no different. With issues like equalization on the agenda and a down turn in the manufacturing sector, primarily in central Canada, it’s pretty clear which provinces will be getting all the warm and fuzzy promises for financial assistance, program funding and government services, all in an effort to buy votes.

It’s been said before, by far smarter people than me, that Canada DOES NOT work for anyone except those in central Canada. Whether you want to admit it or not, there is no representation in the House of Commons for anyone other than the big two, the Senate is a joke and the Supreme Court is stacked in favor of Ontario and Quebec, this while some provinces haven’t been represented there even once.

Consider that of the 308 members of the House of Commons, 181 represent Ontario or Quebec. That leaves just 127, or 41%, to speak for the people of the other 8 provinces and 3 territories combined. I use the words “speak for” very loosely in this context since a member of Parliament has no option but to toe the party line and, as noted in the above numbers, the party line means what ever is best for Ontario and Quebec. Well you might say, “that’s just representation by population, the areas with the highest population have the most representation.” You’d be right of course, which brings us to the Senate.

As things now stand, the triple I senate (ineffective, inefficient and inconsequential), doesn’t represent Canada either. While the concept of an equal senate, where each province is represented equally, has been tossed around for years, it remains a pipe dream. Today the senate is made up of 105 politically appointed eunuchs who are capable of little more than slowing down legislation for a few weeks. Here as well, the representation is slanted with, 48 senators split equally between Ontario and Quebec while the remaining provinces have between 4 and 10 senators each and the territories only 1.

When you throw the Supreme Court into the mix the picture is complete. Here you’ll find 9 justices, supposedly from across the nation but can anyone guess where 6 of them hail from?

No matter how you slice it the Canadian federation is structured to benefit Ontario and Quebec alone. When you add to this sad situation the corruption, cronyism, corporate influence and political gamesmanship that flourish like cockroaches on Parliament Hill, the thought of electing another government is enough to make for more than a few sleepless nights on the east and west coasts of Canada.

A friend of mine has been tinkering for some time with the idea of making a statement at the ballot box and I’m starting to believe he may be on to something. The idea has to do with making a choice NOT to vote. Basically he would like to convince the already unrepresented masses to intentionally decline their right to vote or perhaps even spoil their ballot by writing the words, “Equality or Exit” across it. Maybe he’s on to something. Maybe our best approach is to simply give up on a system that’s already given up on the “…the rest of Canada”. Why not just let Ontario / Quebec have all the seats in the Commons if they want them. If we aren’t getting any representation there anyway, why lend validity to the system by keeping up the charade any longer? In essence, by spoiling our ballots, “…the rest of Canada” would finally be admitting that it is a series of colonial outposts, governed by a central body. Isn’t that what we are anyway? If nothing else it would be interesting to see how the political leadership views a situation where nobody is elected anywhere else in the federation except Ontario and Quebec.

Of course there are those who would see this approach as unpatriotic or even as treasonous. These are the same well meaning folks who believe that it’s our civic duty to take part in the electoral process. I used to think the same thing but I’m not so sure any more. The sentiment sounds good and politicians love to repeat this mantra whenever possible, but in reality what part do we really play when the ultimate choice of who governs is made by two provinces alone? There are also those who will say, “If you don’t vote then you have no right to complain.” Bull!!! It’s actually the people who vote that have no right to complain, not those who don’t. It’s the voters who allow the status quo to continue by showing their support for whatever band of hucksters are in charge of the asylum, not those who abstain. If I decide not to vote I suddenly become someone who can honestly look any voter right in the eye and say, “hey pal, don’t gripe to me about Ottawa, I didn’t have anything to do with electing that bunch.”

I heard someone say once that the act of repeating the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result, was the true definition of insanity. In Canada we call that an election.

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yes, spoil the ballots. That's a mature response to a problem. If you are 5 years old!!

Anonymous said...

Before you pick apart the Federal government, have a look at your Provincial one!! Is there a more corrupt, whiny, egocenntric group anywhere else in Canada?? Not even Ottawa can compare to Williams and his fiasco of a government!!

Anonymous said...

Patriot your newest blog is interesting, but I want to ask a question that might not have any relevance to it at all.

My question is why do the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador politicians still practice politics on religious lines? I think it is an archaic practice and it only serves to keep us down. It is very blatant and obvious and it is a practice we should banish immediately. There is no room in a democratic society for such discrimination.

Anonymous said...

Spoil the ballots is the correct thing to do. Maybe there will be questions asked on election night as to Why Newfoundlanders and Labradorians would do such a thing? Maybe at that point a representative like John Crosbie or Brian Tobin who might be on the panel on election night, can explain for us that we have no power with the way things are set up and proportioned in Canada in the present system, then they might understand. At least we will get that message across, and maybe then and only then will Canadians understand our plight.

WJM said...

Consider that of the 308 members of the House of Commons, 181 represent Ontario or Quebec.

And?

Is this a problem?

Is it also a problem that Newfoundland has 44 MHAs and Labrador only 4? Why or why not?

Anonymous said...

I expect we will see The conservatives spread a little post Christmas cheer in order to shore up any support they have in Quebec. don't be surprised to see PM Harper put another Quebec tory in the cabinet in the very near future now that Ms. Ambrose was given the nudge.

Additionally, I fully expect the Conservatives will deal with the fiscal imbalance in such a fashion that it pleases Quebec, the consequences of this will no doubt be undesireable for this province.

Our federal representives have been canvased by the Premier to support this province's position vis a vis equalization / fiscal imbalance. The premier has recieved letters of support from 5 of the 7 federal members for this province to date. Loyola Hearn and Todd Russell have not joined with the others to this point. Perhaps Mr. Hearn cherishes his cabinet post far too much to do anything that would possibly get him in hot water with the PMO, however Mr. Hearn could find himself in trouble during the next federal election if he does not stand with the others. I have a feeling Mr. Russell would not likely suffer any repercussions from his constituents by not lending his support to the provinces position, but I could be wrong.

The best chance this province has is for all the federal members to close ranks on important issues, such a stand is the best way to send a strong message to Ottawa.


Regards,

Artfull Dodger

Anonymous said...

Spoiling the ballots across Newfoundland will only make the rest of Canada say what losers we are.

It's immature and self-defeating.

Phillip K said...

I do not agree with spoiling the ballots but I do agree with abstaining from voting. It is a personal choice after all.

My first post here will be a means for me to vent a little. One thing that really bothers me is the fact that the political games being played by the opposition parties (federal and provincial) are so transparent that it is laughable. I like a strong opposition and one that will keep a Govt in check and pull the reigns once in awhile. I personally like the idea of a minority govt in Ottawa because it tempers the actual changes that thye Govt can make and usually only positives will slip through. But I hate the way opposition parties are negative about every topic/decision that comes along. Its like they are saying that "we could have done it so much better", but everyone knows that if they were in power the decision made would only be marginable different. On a provincial level, someone should say to Gerry Reid, lighten up a little! For the love of God. Your attempts at opposition for the sake of opposition are very transparent. The same can be said of federal liberal house leader Bill Grahm, now that the liberals are in opposition, they try and spin everything to seem like it could be so much better if they were making the decisions. Its hillarious and not just a little frustrating. I know that it is part of the process but it just seems like such a waste of time and energy and taxpayers dollars. I am not a big fan of the Williams govt here in NFLD but I do feel that they are the right choice right now to take NFLD's economy out of the toilet. A few more wins by opposition members next election might cut down on the desperation of the liberal party to find holes in the Williams govt to exploit and harp on. By getting away from trying to make Danny Williams and the conservatives look bad they may be able to make the liberal party look good and thus make them a better opposition party. Does anyone agree with this?

I find myself looking at the political landscape from the point of view of someone who does not support liberals or conservatives or NDP. I look at who is running and what that person stands for. What really frustrates me is the absolute blind support of liberals for liberals and conservatives for conservatives, etc etc. My father was a liberal and my grandfather was a liberal and therefore I'm a liberal! Why!
Sometimes someone can be more than the party they are running for.

I hope that didn't bore anyone too much.

Regards

Phillip K.

NL-ExPatriate said...

The thing is Phillip how do you change a systemically flawed democracy like ours with no equality for the different members of the federation?

I can't be done from within it has been tried and failed miserably both with Meech Lake and the Charlottetown accord.

The two provinces that have all of the power ON and Que want to keep the status Quo because it is working for them. So they will never allow the lesser provinces to have any form of equality even if it is just in the upper house and for morals, ethics, values, and standards in the Supreme court of canada. We've seen this in the past and even now Dalton Mc Gimme has weighed in saying he would rather see the senate abolished than give equality to the provinces in the form of a triple E senate.

It has to come from the people the grass roots.

If you just abstain from voting it could be construed as just voter apathy but if you consciously spoil your ballot along with the vast majority by writing Equality or exit there can be no misinterpretation people aren't happy with the way the system is and want change in the form of equality so the provinces issues get a fair and equal voice at least in the upper house. Someone will get elected and sent to OTT anyway but the message will be the spoiled ballots all with Equality or Exit pasted across them.

We have seen it time and time again our best and brightest going to Ottawa and having to capitulate to the masses and toe the party line which is drawn by Ontario.

Hope springs eternal in a democracy just by the fact that the mice people feel they have a choice of red cats or blue cats. They feel like they are involved and have a say by way of voting but our say in this systemically flawed democracy is less than 2% and getting smaller all of the time.

Unfortunately for us Hope spells eternal damnation with the status Quo and the root cause of all of our past present and future problems within this federation are because of our lack of equality everything else is just a symptom.

As for the NDP that is a definate no no because they have right in their party platform that they would abolish the senate if they became the government and a triple e senate is the only hope we have of ever getting a fair shake in this federation either that or get out.

NL-ExPatriate said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Not voting just looks like apathy. Spoiling your ballot with a common theme "Equality or Exit" means the people with elections Canada will see them and if enough have a common theme the word will get out to the powers in Ottawa.

I love the idea and you can count me in. Equality or Exit!!!!

Anonymous said...

Oh spare me the dramatics. Just exit already!

Anonymous said...

I wish it were that easy.

Anonymous said...

There are those who believe voting should be mandatory, with some sort of punative measure to be exacted upon those who do not vote. I would suggest to you that we would see a number of spoiled ballots should such a requirement be foisted upon the Canadian voters. Perhaps ballots should have a "none of the above" choice for those who cannot force themselves to hold their nose and vote.


Regards,
Artfull Dodger

kodak said...

Not sure how I would vote or not vote yet, but the idea of spoiling the ballot by writing a protest statement, seems like a fine political squeaky wheel tool to have as an option. Perhaps 100 or more such ballots might be media attention getting.

WJM said...

Basically he would like to convince the already unrepresented masses to intentionally decline their right to vote or perhaps even spoil their ballot by writing the words, “Equality or Exit” across it.

The only people who will ever "get" this "message" are your friends and neighbours who work at the polling booth that day.

Mr. Spog said...

Off topic:

I just looked at the NLDL website. In the membership section it first says that the NLDL is open to anyone with a "willingness and desire to work for the best interests of our wonderful home." But then it turns out that in order to be considered for membership you have to submit personal details which include your "views on Newfoundland and Labrador issues." Apparently you have to have certain, unspecified views in order to be a member. Perhaps you have to think exactly like the group's organizers? This sort of strategy seems unlikely to build a broad political movement. It also suggests that the organizers have little idea of what democracy is. If you want a group consisting of people who think exactly the same way, maybe you should be up front about it.

mt.pearligan said...

As a member of NLDL I can explain why this is. Simply put why would you join a group if they didn't share your views? We encourage all prospective members to read through our literature to gain an understanding of what we stand for. Their personal statement (which doesn't have to be comprehensive) lets us know that they're on the same page. If someone has the same goals as we do (a strong and healthy Newfoundland and Labrador) we're eager to hear their views and work with them to develop initiatives in that direction.

We didn't form the group to support those who think that the current situation and the corrupt political system that maintains it is A-OK. There's no point in "building a broad political movement" if it doesn't represent anything that you stand for. Political parties will do anything and say anything to get and maintain power - should we take on such a philosophy in trying to build a movement?

Anonymous said...

WJM I think if nobody shows up to cast his/her vote to expose the truth, then that would be a case where the fact that the masses are truly unrepresented will show up in spades. Once it is in the open, maybe then something can be done about it. Matters have to be exposed for what they are. I think we should go along with this wonderful idea. Questions would have to be posed if nobody showed up to vote in a province whose people are accustomed to exercising their right to vote. WJM you already hold the opinion, obviously, that the masses are unrepresented since you said so above, NOW let us do something about it.

NL-ExPatriate said...

OTTAwally so why does elections canada list the numbers and percentage of the electorate who spoil their ballots?
http://www.elections.ca/scripts/OVR2006/default.html

Quebec has the highest number of rejected ballots at 1.2% with NL close behind with 0.6% election 2006.

Elections canada even lists voter turn out 64.7% in 2006, but like I said earlier this is dismissed as voter apathy where as spoiled ballots can't be contsrued in that way because anyone who is willing to make the effort to go vote but spoils their ballot on purpose is making a statement that they aren't happy with the current political system. Kinda like picking none of the above.

You would also be saving tax payers dollars by spoiling your ballot. In that no party will get the funding that goes along with voting for either of the corrupt political parties in this sytemically flawed democracy.

Anonymous said...

If nobody voted that would be the biggest statement of all. I think even just 10 per cent of the electorate voting would send the message quite clearly. We can assume not everyone would give up their franchise because not everyone in society is unhappy with what is going on with government. Ten per cent would probably equate to the number of the electorate who do well from government sources.

Anonymous said...

I have a question on the 'spoiling of ballots'.

I'm going to play devils advocate here so please bear with me!

How will the powers that be deduce that voters in this province spolied their ballots simply to register a protest? The media upalong will likely spin it in such a manner, that a high percentage of spoiled ballots from this province was due to us not knowing how to properly fill out a ballot or some other foolish thing. There would have to be some lead up to a 'ballot spoiling campaign' with organized gatherings/protest etc. which would be covered by the media, in order to telegraph the punch as it were.

Anyway, thats just a thought.

Regards,
Artfull Dodger

WJM said...

why does elections canada list the numbers and percentage of the electorate who spoil their ballots?

Why not?

Elections officials record the spoiled ballot numbers, but they don't take down the tin-foil hat comments that people use to spoil their ballots with.

It's just a ballot in an envelope, and a number.

Quebec has the highest number of rejected ballots at 1.2% with NL close behind with 0.6% election 2006.

Me, and now you, makes two people who have actually bothered to note that statistic.

At one time, that figure used to be even higher in Montreal. I am the only person I know of who ever looked into it. No one I've asked seems to know why, or, honestly, care that much, either.

In that no party will get the funding that goes along with voting for either of the corrupt political parties

There are more than two parties.