Regardless of any particular election result, federal, provincial or municipal, certain truths remain self-evident. In the case of our two senior levels of government, excessive party discipline is slowly killing our democracy. In the May 14th BC provincial election barely 52 per cent of registered voters bothered to cast a ballot, down three per cent from 2009. If it wasn’t for the 50 plus voters, who are motivated mostly by habit (and self-interest?), the turn-out would be well below half the eligible electorate.
With so few countries in this world fortunate to be truly democratic, and considering the sacrifices that so many have made over so many years to preserve and protect our right to self-governace, why is it that participation in Canadian elections, at all levels of government, is increasingly pathetic? I suggest that one powerful reason is political party dominance of our electoral processes. The recently-released documentary film, Whipped, by former BC-based investigative journalist, Sean Holman, brilliantly exposes this troubling phenomenon. It is a “must see” for all who care about the future of our democracy and the fragile freedoms it underpins. Please see the accompanying link to the film, and a letter to the editor of the NS News that I recently wrote on the subject.
People are rational. They will not spend time, attention and energy on something that is unlikely to produce a reasonable return on their investment. That’s as true with political participation as with anything else. The case for serious democratic reform in BC, and across Canada, has never been stronger or more urgent. In the months ahead some concerned citizens, including myself, will be meeting to discuss this matter and to consider possible suggestions for improvement to our present unsettling situation. I hope you will become engaged in the conversation and, ultimately, offer support for our initiative.