I, like many other Canadians, believe that our electoral system needs an upgrade after 150 years as a country. Canada has changed dramatically in that amount of time. We have seen the continued shifting of population from east to west. We see a country that has increasing ethnic diversity and we see a country that is more engaged than ever before with other nations around the world.
Unfortunately, we also see a country where only about half of our citizens take the opportunity to vote on who they want to govern this vast and wonderful country. Something is wrong.
During the last federal election campaign, the Leader of the Liberal Party said it was time for Canadians to renew their democratic process and that the first-past- the-post electoral system was failing. He said "elect me" and this will be the last election under this old, under-performing system. Well we elected him with a strong majority government and expected that we Canadians would have a discussion about a different system that would get more of us engaged in our democratic rights and responsibilities.
That whole process came to a screaming halt last week because I'm afraid Mr. Trudeau and the Liberal Party are very comfy with where they are right now and are fully expecting to get another majority government. This is precisely why Canadians are cynical about their political leaders and their political parties. This is why fewer people will take the time to vote which seems to be just what the political elites in this country are happy with - a political system they can manipulate and control. This is a sad day for democracy and a sad day for our Prime Minister who did not know how to do the right things for the right reasons.
Speaking of our democracy, I have been up in Saskatoon knocking doors and putting up signs with our PC candidate Dave Prokopchuk. Winter by-elections are always challenging. Dave and I were slogging through foot deep snow on Saturday and had as many conversations with people shovelling or running their snow blowers as we did on the doorsteps. The condominiums and apartment buildings were a little easier going but then you are dying of the heat because you were dressed for full-blown winter outside. As I said, challenging!
The wonderful part about that whole exercise is getting to talk to a very diverse group of people from students to senior citizens and getting a sense of where they think their province is going. My first day of door knocking in Meewasin tells me that voters are feeling misled by the Sask Party government since the last election campaign.
They can't understand how the deficit went from $400 million to $1.2 billion. They can't understand how their government could pay a couple of its friends over 11 million extra dollars on a land deal. They don't appreciate the Premier's musings about laying off 4900 health care workers and selling Sask Tel. They don't understand how this Sask Party government could blow the greatest economic boom this province has ever seen.
I would suggest that this by-election will be good for our government because people are going to give the Sask Party and their candidate an earful. On the doorsteps all day, Dave and I pressed home the point that the boys and girls that make up the current Legislature both Sask Party and NDP need a shakeup. The people of Meewasin cannot change the government by themselves. But they can add a very effective opposition voice to try and make our government more responsive and accountable to the people of this province. I will be in Saskatoon many more days talking to voters and trying to make that happen.
These issues must be debated for “The Right Reasons”