By Lorne Warwick
Published March 28, 2011
Much has been written about the badly damaged state of our Canadian democracy. Not only has the Harper Government, for the past five years, shown its contempt for Parliament, but also for the people of Canada, who have the right to expect responsible, representative and transparent government from all of our elected representatives.
The level of citizen engagement in our democratic society has dropped to dangerously low levels. The federal election of October 2008 saw a turnout of 58.8% of eligible voters, the lowest participation rate since Confederation, resulting in the second Harper minority government.
The distribution of those votes means that we are allowing a minority of people to determine the direction our country takes, the policies that are enacted, the treaties that are signed, and so on.
Given that a good portion of those who vote are 'true believers' of one political stripe or another, that means we are essentially allowing special interests to determine our collective fates.
Does this sound fair? Does this sound reasonable?
Even more disturbing is the demographic breakdown of the 2008 turnout: youth turnout (ages 18-24) was only 37.4% of those eligible to cast ballots; for those aged 25-34, it was 48%; for those 35-44, it was 53.9%; in the 45-54 category, it was 59.7.
It was only in the dinosaur category (i.e., yours truly), that voter turnout rates began to look even remotely healthy - perhaps something of an irony since we decline in so many other areas. ;)
I believe there is a way to begin to remind those who govern that they are accountable to us, and not to those monied interests who can employ expensive lobbyists agitating for more and more targeted tax breaks and other policies that may work counter to our national interests.
That way is to have a much larger proportion of average citizens exercising their franchise.
That is the reason I have created a Facebook page entitled Help Get Out The Vote - Election 2011. While I may have a political philosophy that runs counter to someone else's, I invite people of all political stripes to participate in order to help increase political awareness and to discuss ways to significantly increase voter turnout in the upcoming federal election.
My only stipulation is that discussion be kept on a civil level. Commentary based on invective, rudeness, insults, etc. will be deleted.
I hope that people who like this page will extend invitations to their family and friends to do visit and contribute to it. The more ideas, discussion and plans that people can offer, the better will be our results.
So let's use the power of social media to achieve something important. Let's work toward building a better, more democratic Canada!