Occupy democracy


Jeff Jedras questions the suggestion that Occupy protesters would simply be better off voting.

Yes, they should get involved, but we should also reform our political system because, the fact is, it is viewed as irrelevant and ineffective by many Canadians, and not just the young folk. If we want greater engagement by citizens of all ages, we need to start doing something differently.

Off the top of my head, I’d suggest loosening the oppressive yoke of party discipline, empowering individual MPs to have personalities and agendas and represent their constituents and causes, and making the policy development process in political parties actually connected to their election platform instead of an exercise in pointless tedium. For starters.


Occupy democracy

  1. My only problem with the “Party Discipline” discussions that seem to be frequently brought up is that it’s actually quite trivial to get around. MPs and the electorate alike just have to be willing to tolerate the consequences.

    If an MP is so dedicated to representing their riding when their riding’s wishes differ from the official party line then they should have the conviction to do so outside of the party as well. They must just be willing to suffer the potential consequences of getting kicked out of caucus.

    On the flip side of that, if the electorate is really clamouring for their MP to think and act more independently of the party, then they, at election time, should consider their own vote beyond those representing parties and be willing to elect (more than once-in-a-decade) a non-affiliated MP.

    Since the demands for entirely independent MPs are largely incompatible with the demands of party work, then it’s probably not unfair to demand that we (the electorate at large) not punish or ignore candidates who happen not to be affiliated with a party. That way, we’ll be somewhat more likely to get more granular representation.

    • That is an interesting pov. If many of the voters are so pissed at the system as many now argue why are they[ other the those who are voting in absentia by not voting] continuing to pony up to the party trough rather then sending a bunch of independents to Ottawa? I’d take a guess that of those who remain many are in fact perfectly happy with the party system. Herein lies our dilemma – the lower the turnout gets the stronger the stranglehold the parties and their partisans have on our politics and the less the other half of the potential electorate want to come out and play. I’m not sure there is any soution[ beside sending independents or a new party to Ottawa] other than non voters coming back in from the cold.Depressing tales of disinterest in turning out for riding association meetings are commonplace.  As far as reform goes this would be a good place to loosen the cold clammy fingers of the party from the throat our democracy. But what is the likelihood of that when the general public are often as not apathetic- their lives are already in many cases to full of stress or full of other entertaining distractions to bother. Can we entirely blame people? We have glorified choice over public duty – they seem to have made their choice.
      So what comes first – the reform or a change in public attitude? Maybe it is time for a manditory vote?

      • Everything is connected of course, but you do seem to have jumped rather quickly from party discipline to mandatory voting.  Confidence motions, money bills, and platform items are party requirements.  Unless, you specifically campaigned against one of the things in your party platform and then even that can be off the party line.  Otherwise, if your caucus can’t convince you of the rightness of their position without resorting to political favours/blackmail, maybe the position is suspect. 

        • Not sure if i follow you. Really what are the chances of getting a party nomination if you have views that seem to be antithetical to the party line? An example that comes to mind is of a tory candidate running in a riding in Northern BC that is clearly not interested in having Enbridge plow a pipeline through their riding/district. Believe it or not there was a time [ particularly in UK politics] when such a possibility would occur – a conservative candidate would head to Westminister convinced of the rightness of his constutuents position and yet remain in all other respects a conservative. Perhaps this never was the case in Canadian politcs, but i think not. I can still remember David Anderson running as a commited environmentalist for the liberals and actually becoming EM. Can you see a real greenie ever attaining any kind of meaningful position of influence in the present CPC? I would say the NDP and the libs are still fairly open in this regard, but the Tories seem to resemble something more like a monastic order then a big tent politcal party. I’m afraid if the liberals die that will become the new template for politics in this country. For that reason the LPC should be leading the political reform movement in this country. I saw precious little of that under Ignatieff[ Dion would have been brave enough to give it a go]. Perhaps Rae will go there – i hope so.

          As for manitory voting. If that’s what it takes to widen the gene pool in our polity i’m all for it. I’m afraid the parties will never willing let go of power.

          • That’s a great example of what I meant.  Apart from one (or maybe two)issue(s) the constituency sees probably more personally than a party as a whole, the candidate is a committed member of that party, and gets elected as such with the understanding that on that issue he does not toe party lines.  The constituency understands it, so too should the party when it comes time to whip the vote on party platform.  But if he didn’t speak up about his opposition to something the party is actively campaigning on, he can’t claim the right to disagree when it comes time to vote.

            And by God we little peons are trying, kcm2.  But we need help, you know?  You can follow along over at http://www.liberal.ca on both the “community” page and on the Convention 2012 page.  You can even urge us on on the Convention 2012 page, although I’m fairly sure you can’t comment on the community page.

  2. Emma Goldman ~ If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal 

    Government doesn’t want more involvement from people who actually pay the bills, bureaucracies just want our money. As government gets continually bigger while claiming to be able to solve all the world’s intractable dilemmas, Canadian public focus on more frivolous topics and that’s how authorities want it. 

    Canadians are raised and encouraged to wander around with thumbs in bums and minds in neutral. 

  3. I think Jeff is missing the point. If these radicals want to claim to represent 99% of the population, then winning an election should be quite easy for them. Blaming the party system for voter disengagement is completely bogus. If the “99%” were really wanting change, they’d be out voting en mass. But most Canadians are in fact quite satisfied with the status quo. Of course that’s not entertaining enough for the media to report on, but it’s the reality of the situation.

    • Wow, not only do you not get the Occupy movement AT ALL, you seem to have difficulty with reality on the ground as well.

      Guess what the 99% have in common?  ONLY that they are being marginalized by the laws and regulations and lack of laws and regulations on a global basis.  They aren’t a school of fish moving in the same direction at all times.

      And most Canadians did not vote for the status quo as you so entertainingly seem to think.

      • Not voting is a vote for the status quo.

        The 99% don’t exist.

        • No, that is the result of not voting.  People don’t vote for a variety of reasons, like apathy, disgust with the system, disgust with the choices, happy with the status quo, forgetfulness (I have a problem with that one myself), too busy (presumably to properly weigh the options), and probably many more reasons/excuses.  But your putting them all in one category probably only helps with the disgust as I’m sure you both know and planned that way since the end result does tend to be the status quo. 

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