Sunday, May 8, 2011

Absentee NDP MP should open the door to electoral reform

Ruth Ellen Brousseau's life time absence from the electoral riding she now represents could become common.  The NDP may have forged her nomination documents and Elections Canada officials may have helped her do it.

This is an opportune time to strengthen the nomination procedure.  If reforms that would require national parties to run candidates in all national riding's becomes law, they we could see the Honourable Brousseau's example repeated everywhere. 

Those reforms were first floated to deny regional parties like the separatist BQ seats in the Canadian House of Commons.  If they had to run candidates in every riding, it's reasoned that the BQ would find it extremely difficult to maintain its ability to participate in federal elections at all.

This, in conjunction with the removal of the per vote subsidy would effectively eliminate the Bloc from federal elections permanently.

The fact that Quebeckers  have chosen to remove the Bloc themselves doesn't mean they aren't broken or won't be back later.    This is a reform worth investigating, but it will also have other side effects.

The Green Party, the Libertarian Party,  the Marijuana Party and the Communist Party will feel the impact  in addition to the Bloc.  Most people won't miss any of those but consider that the Reform Party may not have been so successful in that environment.  A law like that may encourage stagnation and stifle the renewal and rebirth of new parties.

For new and weaker parties to be successful they will have to run phantom candidates the way the NDP ran Ruth Ellen Brousseau.  She has admitted to never visiting her riding even once and may not have even filled the requirement for nomination.  This could become standard practice.

Good electoral reforms measures include:
  • creating new riding's to account for population changes
  • remove per vote subsidy
  • Federal Parties must run candidates in every riding
  • MPs crossing the floor should trigger a bi-election
Some poor ideas are:
  • mandatory vote laws
  • paid to vote laws
  • online votes
The importance of voting should be obvious.  Unmotivated voters have chosen not to participate for their own reasons and will accept the consequences of their choice like all other voters.

The case of Ruth Ellen Brousseau begs for changes to be made.  The nomination process should be strengthened while other ideas are also considered.  There have been many calls for reform, some of them good and some of them not so good.  A committee should investigate all of these ideas and update our system.


Anonymous said...

I endorse most of your ideas however with one caveat the candidate must be a resident of their riding (for 6 months prior to the election writ being dropped)and a federal party must run candidates in at least 10% of each provinces allotted riding's (this would have eliminated the bloc).

maryT said...

Didn't iggy live in a riding he didn't represent, and same for Olivia Chow (unless she and Jack are not together)
I like the idea a candidate must live in a riding 6 months prior to a writ being dropped.
Just think of the money lizzie could have saved if she had not moved from NS to run in BC.

dmorris said...

Any candidate should have to live in the Riding for a minimum of six months before running for office there. This would also prevent the odious practice of parachuting in a "star" candidate to run instead of someone who actually gives a damn about the constituents.

Party Leaders should simply NOT be allowed to override the democratic process of the local Party administration. Chretien was a big fan of "star" candidates,and subsequent PM's have also done the same thing. It's simply un-democratic and has to be outlawed.

The idea that a Party must run a candidate in all 308 Ridings is also very anti-democratic and favors only the Old Guard Parties.

Under such a law,neither the CCF nor the Reform Parties would have had a chance,and we'd be stuck with an even more elitist cadre in Ottawa than we have now.

Democracy is supposed to be about the will of the people, not a select few at the top.

Don said...

I disagree with forcing all parties to run in all ridings. For the reasons dmorris has suggested as well as this: The MP is supposed to represent the members of the riding, not the party. If it behooves the people to drop parties and vote for independents, then this reform would stop that. Worse, it would create a system where party elites would control politics in Canada and there'd be no way out. At least with the current system, the public can drop a party and relegate them to obscurity (the PC party anyone?).

Anonymous said...

"creating new riding's to account for population changes"
"remove per vote subsidy"
"MPs crossing the floor should trigger a bi-election"

good, good... and good.

"Federal Parties must run candidates in every riding"

no good!

"The idea that a Party must run a candidate in all 308 Ridings is also very anti-democratic and favors only the Old Guard Parties."

Yes. AND further attempts at infiltration or possible back room "duopoly".

Alex said...

Sure. Good. The idea of having the Bloc run in every riding nationally to wipe them out was extreme. Doesn't seem like a good idea at all when the Bloc wipes itself out. Its so good that they are gone. They were a poison to our democracy for way too long.

I'm just not convinced they are through. The pundits seem to think so but they are just laying traps for Harper. The Bloc could return just as quick as it went and they would all blame Harper as they still blame Mulroney.

Frances said...

The NDP had a couple of pylons from Edmonton running in Calgary when no suitable local candidates could be found. I'd love to know how they got those nomination papers signed.

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