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Electoral Reform Part One

Web posted on August 11, 2016

A Curmudgeon's View

By Les Enekes

Last year's federal election proved that there are some serious changes needed in who we elect as our Members of Parliament. I sincerely believe that it is far more important to change the process of who we elect rather than how we elect them. This is going to be very long and I am going to split it into several parts. Some of my ideas may seem somewhat radical. I will not be mentioning the utterly absurd notion of disproportional misrepresentation and other silly ideas. That will come later. There are serious issues that must addressed before we even give consideration to the thought of possibly thinking about changing the current first past the post system. The most important thing is to get more people to come out and vote. We really need to clean up the entire process.

Can you really see any self serving politician ever voting for my ideas? Yet if Young Trudeau wants to make changes, these must come first. These changes should also apply at the provincial level, but getting all the provinces to agree will be like trying heard cats. The municipal system is a whole different mess, and I will have some suggestions before the next election.

Changing party affiliation (crossing the floor) must be outlawed immediately. If someone is not happy with their chosen party, they can resign their seat or not run again. Either way, they can not be allowed to run for another party or as an independent in any election for five years. If they resign to run at a different level (for the same party) and lose, they cannot run for five years. If your current party does not want you, (this is like being kicked out of a trailer park for conduct unbecoming) suck it up and go away. Resignation for health or family reasons would be the only exception. I am tired of opportunistic, self serving, greedy, bottom feeding, professional politicians, and their ilk making a mockery of the system. They are the kind of scum who have managed to turn many people away from voting.

While on the subject of scum, it has been suggested to me that if a candidate resigns, or is forced out of the campaign for any indiscretions, high crimes, stupidity, or anything in between, during an election campaign, they could not be replaced by another candidate from that party. (just a wee bit of incentive here to pick the right candidate) I really like this idea. I would take it one step further and give that individual a lifetime ban from holding any elected or government appointed office. This past election proved beyond any shadow of doubt that all parties must vet their own candidates as if they were digging up dirt on the other party's candidates. Based on what I saw in the election, there should also be some sort of intelligence test for candidates. Looks like we need a Canadian version of "Are You Smarter Than a Sixth Grader?" for potential candidates. Albert Einstein once said "There are only two things that are infinite: the universe, and human stupidity, and I am not sure about the universe."

If something is posted on anti-social media, it never goes away. What may seem funny or innocent at the time will come back and bite (or should it be byte) you. Even if you didn't post anything, someone else just might post something embarrassing and you may never know until it's way too late. One candidate being disqualified, or having to resign is one too many. Candidates for federal and provincial office must have police and security background checks at their own expense before seeking the nomination. Candidates must be beyond squeaky clean.

We need the best and brightest running for office, even if they theoretically don't stand a chance of winning. Strange things happen, and sometimes people with no qualifications get elected, because a party needed a candidate running in each riding. This is happening more and more these days. Remember the Orange Wave in Quebec?

It should also be illegal for any former politician to act as a lobby agent, consultant, or hold any appointed position involving any form of government, at any level for a period of not less than five years. Of course, they would not be allowed to work for any company with government contracts. They get a really nice gold plated pension, and they should not be taking advantage of their inside knowledge. If they want to work, teaching political science at a university comes to mind, or maybe in the drive through window at their local golden arches. There are also many volunteer opportunities out there. They could also write their memoirs, or go on the lecture circuit.

With a fixed election date, there must be a fixed start date for the campaign. The people in power must not be allowed to pick the start date. We had a 78 day campaign costing 443 million dollars. That was an incredible waste of time and money. No campaign should ever be this long. Do we really want to be like our friends down south, where the campaign for President, begins the day after inauguration? I would suggest that no campaign last longer than 28 days. This would save money and would give less time for them to screw with our minds. Even if a minority government loses a vote of non confidence, the campaign would still be restricted to 28 days. In order to keep with the fixed election dates, if a government is defeated and an election is required, the length of term would be until the next scheduled election date and not a new four year term. A little incentive here to for all parties to make it work.

It would be really nice if we could get all elections synchronized. The ideal thing would be a four year cycle with federal elections taking place in year one, provincial elections in year two and municipal elections in year three. Then there would be one year free of elections, unless we got an elected Senate, and the cycle would start all over again. This would make a lot of sense but will probably never happen. Just a bit of wishful thinking.

Next week I will be taking a tilt at that sporting event in Rio. If all goes well, and things are quiet, I will be back with part two in a couple of weeks.


Les Enekes can be reached directly by owl. For those not owl equipped, he can be reached at news@thefountainpen.com

The views of columnists in The Fountain Pen do not necessarily represent the views of the principals of the publication.


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