Renewing Canadian Democracy

WHEREAS the practices of the current federal government have resulted in Canadians becoming concerned about erosion of Canadian parliamentary democracy; and

WHEREAS the Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada has recognised this concern and has suggested that one focus of the next Liberal election platform should be an emphasis on renewing Canadian democracy; and

BE IT RESOLVED that the Liberal Party of Canada support the Leader’s proposal to include renewing Canadian democracy as a focus of the next election campaign; therefore

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Liberal Party of Canada encourage our Leader to state clearly, prior to the next election campaign, the changes a Liberal government would make; and

BE IF FURTHER RESOLVED that the National Policy and Election Platform Committee prepare a document, listing options for inclusion by the leader in this statement.  Elements might include: governance principles; transparency; the role and responsibilities of MPs as representatives of their constituencies; and the restoration of the role of the Senate as an independent and non-partisan component of the Canadian Parliament.

Senior Liberals’ Commission

12 Responses to “Renewing Canadian Democracy”

  1. Francis Fuller 01. Feb, 2014 at 2:25 pm #

    With respect to transparency there have been multiple press reports on the CPC contracting with US Republican political strategists and undertaking the wholesale adoption of practices recommended by those strategists. A more recent statement by Nathan Cullen of the NDP indicates that the NDP have contracted with US Democratic political strategists and will base their 2015 campaign on the advice obtained.

    As a Canadian I find it insulting that I reside in a country in which major political parties find themselves unable to develop their own political practices and strategies.

    I suspect that much of the current political climate has been the result of these foreign political strategists recommendations (the CPC manual on how to disrupt Parliament, the CPC manner in running committees, the CPC manner of handling questions in the house, the CPC attack on public service scientists and scientific undertakings, the CPC destruction of valuable scientific publications and library materials so that historical records are not available to future researchers – the full listing is longer than this but you get the idea)

    There should be a check on the use of public funds to import into Canada strategies which are inimical to the traditions of Canadian politics.

    I am appalled at the press reports that foreign funds were used by the Conservative Party of Canada to ensure the defeat of Mr Joe Clark and effect Mulroney’s rise to the leadership.

    There must be some mechanism by which this activity is curtailed. Or if it cannot be curtailed (due to freedom of association and civil liberties) there should be some mechanism by which the pubic is able to ascertain the use of imported strategies and foreign consultants.

    Any payments out of the public purse should be itemized and reported in some way. This should include political parties using funds obtained through Canadian donations from Canadian citizens. These funds result in a tax benefit to the donor and I believe it important that all taxpayers be aware of this use of funds and each taxpayer is in effect providing a subsidy to those persons who can obtain personal benefit from a significant donation.

  2. Francis Fuller 01. Feb, 2014 at 2:40 pm #

    With respect to Democratic Renewal

    I am burdened by the fact that I was rear ended in a motor vehicle accident and have suffered a serious injury. I do not enjoy my prior occupation or my prior income.

    When it comes time to make a political donation I can obtain no benefit from any tax rebate. When I joined the LPC I had to pull the funds from my food budget.

    There are likely to be several hundred thousand Canadians (given the skew in incomes I suspect the true number is in the millions) who are in the same position. Making any from of political donation represents a significant challenge.

    This is not the case for someone who is employed and who enjoys significant disposable income. They can afford to spend to the limit in support of their political beliefs and will do so knowing that they will obtain a tax credit for a significant portion of their donation.

    This is not the case for those who enjoy much less in the way of disposable income. This group of Canadians is hard pressed to meet their day to day commitments. They have little or no means to utilize any tax credits.

    Essentially what this means is that the political process skews heavily in favour of the small percentage of the population with the highest levels of income.

    Given that corporations have much greater ability to influence government (and that government prefers dealing with large corporations – you may wish to dispute this but I can provide many examples from my own experience. When in the corporate world I had access to cabinet ministers. Something happen that we did not like? We could go direct to Ottawa and have events restructured to our benefit within 48 hours.

    In view of the above I suggest that a mechanism be created by which Canadians of lesser means be permitted to engage in the political process and provide financing to the party of their choice,

    That such a mechanism include a provision by which a citizen with an income below a certain threshold be provided with a cash reimbursement of their donated funds.

    This would have the effect of causing those with higher incomes to be providing a subsidy to those with lower incomes. This outcome would be the complete opposite of the current environment in which those with lesser incomes provide a subsidy to those with high incomes.

  3. Hilda Earl 07. Feb, 2014 at 3:37 pm #

    I believe very strongly that democratic reform is fundamental to help us return to the kind of country we want to be and the kind of people we really are. Our democratic processes and institutions have been systematically eroded for the last 30 years by the increasing power of the PMO, and the ill-informed apathy of Canadians. Although the current Conservative government has taken it to a new and frightening extreme, I am sad to say that I hold some recent Liberal governments responsible for some of what we have lost.

    Much needs to be fixed, but to start, we first need an electoral system that produces a result that reflects the true wishes of the majority of voters. The current system almost guarantees that most people will be frustrated with the result. Is it any wonder that they stay home in droves? An end to first-past-the-post would help to ensure that we are never again subjected to an elected dictator in the style of Stephen Harper, who can do as he pleases no matter what the opposition.

    Second, lying to Parliament should be a criminal offence, with penalties meaningful enough to make it worthwhile for our elected representatives to tell us the truth. The way Stephen Harper and his MPs stand up in the House of Commons every day and lie with impunity is, I think, one major contributor to the perception I hear over and over again that “they are all a bunch of liars”. All politicians would gain in respect and credibility if we had a way of identifying and punishing those who do not tell us the truth.

    I do not advocate an American-style of governance, but they did get one thing right: it was not so long ago that a President came very close to being fired for lying to Congress. When our Prime Minister – or any elected representative – lies to us, we should be able to do something about it other than wait for the next election and hope we get a better result next time.

    Third, in discussions with family and friends, it is clear to me that most people do not understand how our democracy is supposed to work – that is one reason the current lot can get away with some of the things they do. The belief among many that the Senate has no purpose is one example of the way many people are swayed by ill-informed media, or individuals with something to gain by distorting the truth. Ongoing public education should be part of our democratic system. The knowledge of how it is supposed to work would empower people to take more interest in the goings-on in Ottawa.

  4. Volker Masemann 11. Feb, 2014 at 8:26 pm #

    I think the best way to enhance democracy is by plumping for some form of rep by pop instead of the antiquated British first past the post system.

  5. rent@xplornet.ca_1 11. Feb, 2014 at 9:02 pm #

    Twenty years ago Police Officers in this Province had one focus and that was to protect the general public. In a short period of time the Police Departments have lost the trust of the general public and in many cases are feared by the public. I believe that law enforcement in this country is on the brink of becoming a Police State.
    Just my opinion, I have no data gathering, just what I hear from talking to people.

  6. John Dunn 11. Feb, 2014 at 10:01 pm #

    Please reverse the governments relentless attack on science. Research is key to our growth.

  7. Lois McGrattan 11. Feb, 2014 at 10:14 pm #

    Yes – more transparency would make a lot of people happy.

    Stating our policy before elections is of course needed to encourage people to vote for our candidates.

    And, yes the Senate should be more independent….when did all this Party stuff start?
    We need the Senate and we need to be able to depend on them to keep the Parliament on track, and honest.

  8. Dan Desson 12. Feb, 2014 at 8:33 am #

    Unless Justin’s modifies his winner-take-all electoral reform of preferential ballot to include an element of proportional representation as advocated by Stephane Dion, Joyce Murray, Bob Rey and others, I will be voting NDP.

    This will likely be the last chance in my life to have a chance to bring in a truly representative democracy for Canada, and I’m afraid Justin is going to throw it away if he sticks with his electoral reform policy, of only preferential ballot.

    VOTE RESOLUTION 31

    AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT immediately after the next election, an all-Party process be instituted, involving expert assistance and citizen participation, to report to Parliament within 12 months with recommendations for electoral reforms including, without limitation, a preferential ballot and/or a form of proportional representation, to represent Canadians more fairly and serve Canada better.
    Liberal Caucus

    http://www.liberal.ca/31-priority-resolution-restoring-trust-canadas-democracy/

    also see Fair Vote Canada website http://www.fairvote.ca

    Dan

  9. John Patton 12. Feb, 2014 at 10:23 am #

    Revising the senate appointment process is a great idea but it means the PM must relinquish some power. This sacrifice will provide a clear differentiation between Liberals and the others. Consider handing the “recommendation process” to the provinces that the senators will represent. The actual appointment will still be done by the Govern General as recommended by the PM, thus avoiding a constitutional amendment.

    Also to consider is reinstating the PBO and elections Canada as reporting to parliament.

  10. Wilfred Cosby 12. Feb, 2014 at 12:11 pm #

    Senate reform should be a priority , Justine did the right thing, The body of people should be 5 chosen by the political parties from 5 Universities prof. of political science.

  11. Christene Daub 12. Feb, 2014 at 12:28 pm #

    This will definitely inspire support from Canadians who have seen the democratic process in Canada eroded. It is a shameful time when elected officials hide the truth and manipulate our governmental rules and regulations for their own benefit. No wonder there is such apathy among voters when our trust in elected officials is betrayed.

  12. Chris Heap 13. Feb, 2014 at 9:46 am #

    I believe electoral reform is the single most important issue in Canadian politics – by far.
    Until we get away from the antiquated first-past-the-post system we’ll never have a truly representative government.

    I will vote for whoever promises a fair voting system and has a fair chance of implementing it.
    Let’s stop this nonsense of the Liberals and the NDP cancelling each other out and Harper slipping through the crack.

    We need a firm, unequivocal statement from the Liberals supporting electoral reform.

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