To the Editor,
Re: Proportional voting system better reflects people’s will, Letters, June 23.
In putting the onus for change on the peoples of Canada – “Over to you, fellow citizens” – Jordan Ellis well reminded me of former Nanaimo MP Bob Ringma, who, upon hearing it suggested that constitutional change was within the grasp of his, as it was then, Reform Party, dismissed the idea (and the one voicing it) by stating that change was up to the people.
In both instances, we’ve been given public testimony to a rather shallow grasp on the subject of political/constitutional reform – for nothing in the constitution of Canada provides its citizenry with the means to participate in such dialogues save and except for when the dominant block of politicians infesting Canada’s legislatures deign allow them.
Even in British Columbia, nothing within the legislature’s bestowed grace of ‘initiative’ can bind the Legislature if it is unwilling … and for those so inclined, within the decadence of this ‘Faux News’ era, Daniel O’Connell’s notion of “a moral electricity in the continuous expression of public opinion concentrated on a single point” is beyond quaint.
British North America Act; Balfour Declaration of 1926; Statute of Westminster; Canada Act … anyone?
Two striking things can be seen in the above collection: 1) that the Constitution makes no stipulation as to how Members of Parliament are to be elected, only that they be elected, and 2) that control over such triflings – as it does with the more weighty issues of constitutional reform – remains the sole prerogative of those who’ve been elected.
For the sake of underscore: the function of elections – in that which we lovingly call ‘representative government’ (or, with equal approbation, ‘liberal democracy’) – is to exclude voices from the legislatures; to under-represent the diversity of the electorate; to minimize the number of viewpoints involved in legislative proceedings; principally, that of dissent.
On that note, when Ellis raises the subject of electoral reform, we should hope that he’s being more forthright now than during that tumultuous period in B.C. politics when he and his Green Party associates steadfastly refused to discuss the obvious shortcomings of that bastardized transferable ballot system, BC-STV, to which he and the Green Party had affixed their brand.
Yes, there are better – as in fairer (more representative, even) – ways to apportion seats in our legislatures, but the onus of acquisition rests on the shoulders of those who most benefit from Canada’s continued employ of single-member plurality.
Which is to say, how might the citizenry – which, not being a person recognized by Parliament or the Constitution, has no political power – redeem that thing which does not wish to be redeemed?
Not at all unlike the conundrum John Locke spoke of when the executive power is allowed to be made a part of the legislative power.
David S. Dunaway