Comment 32051

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted June 24, 2009 at 12:41:02

The fact that more than 40% of us are too apathetic to even cast a ballot once every few years is a national disgrace.

Is it apathy or resignation? Any vote not cast for the winning candidate in a given riding is thrown overboard. The just-under-a-million votes for Green in the last election, for example, were all pretty much wasted, since they translated into zero parliamentary seats.

(That's not the whole story, of course, given that under federal law each party receives public financing proportionate to how many votes it received in the last election. The coalition firestorm of last December was triggered, in part, because the Harper government wanted to eliminate this funding.)

Given both the steadily increasing hyper-partisanship of the House of Commons and the increasing centralization of power under the PMO, it is becoming steadily less relevant which individuals sit in the parliamentary seats (a group to which we refer dismissively as "backbenchers"). They mostly have no choice but to regurgitate the official party position in response to constituents and to vote along party lines in the Commons.

It may once have made sense to vote for a candidate based on that candidate's own qualifications and not based on their party affiliation (the essence of parliamentary democracy), but the capacity of an individual member to do anything worthwhile in a democratic capacity as the representative of a given constituency is eroding steadily.

In the face of that erosion, the value of each vote for an individual MP is also eroding; and that is reflected in turn through steadily falling voter participation rates.

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