November 10, 2000 Halifax Herald

Unnecessary election product of an archaic process

In view of the fact that the Liberal government's "mandate" still had over a year and a half remaining, the current general election is an arrogant, irresponsible waste of money. Th reason I disparage the word “mandate,” as it applies to the majority the Liberals held at dissolution, is that their "mandate" was held at the pleasure of only 38 percent of the electorate. A political party ruling after the vast majority, 62 percent, have rejected it is a clear mockery of democracy. Many dictatorships probably have more democratic election practices than Canada.

This unacceptable situation leads to a question that the citizens of this country, if they hope to achieve a real democracy, need to answer: What Party is to be trusted with devising and implementing enlightened democratic principles that will insure governments govern at the pleasure of the majority, with built-in protection for minority rights?

These are my suggestions to achieve this:

*Elections: Proportional representation is not an option, because it leads to gridlock - for example Israel. Therefore, my preference for constituencies where no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote is run-off elections between the two top candidates. Back this up with a four-year set term for Parliament, a voter-recall option, free votes in the house, an elected, independent Senate with equal representation for each province (four each would be enough), one senate seat in each province reserved for First Nations, the use of referendums to decide major issues, and a total ban on using taxpayer monies to try to buy elections.

*Administration: End the "King of the Commons" status now held by the Prime Minister. All Supreme Court and other major appointments would require the approval of the reformed, elected Senate.

*Minority rights protection: Remove the notwithstanding clause from the Charter of Rights. The Supreme Court of Canada, the United Nations and world public opinion will take care of the rest.

Implementing these initiatives would kick start the long overdue reform of our archaic political process. Now, back to the question of which party has the will and wherewithal to implement change.

Right off the bat, we have to eliminate the three old federal parties (Liberal, Tory and NDP). This is mandated by the fact that they have, by their silence on the issue, indicated strongly that they prefer the status quo. The Bloc Quebecois eliminates itself because of its separatist leanings.

This leaves the Canadian Alliance Party as the only option. Now comes the question that someone such as me, a Registered Indian, has to answer: Can they be trusted not to implement draconian policies that will degrade First Nations further and threaten their existence? Perhaps the best way to answer this is that we've survived the draconian polices that the old parties implemented in the past to eliminate our cultures.

Factually, the only institution in this country that has aided First Nations in bids to continue to exist as distinct societies is the Supreme Court of Canada. Government inaction is witnessed by the lack of effective responsible self-government in our communities. In the final analysis, the Alliance Party's policy towards First Nations does not differ that much from the past policies of the Liberals and Tories.

In any event, in addition to the Supreme Court as a bastion to prevent future draconian genocidal, cultural assaults from occurring, there is the majority of fair-minded Canadians who would no longer tolerate such assaults upon First Nations. These domestic preventives are backed up on the world stage by the UN, the World Court, etc. With these assurances in place, I have no fear of the many red-necks affiliated with Canada's political parties.

But as a proponent of freedom, I do fear the continuation of the Nation's drift towards autocratic rule. Having more government has not made things better. Things are getting worse - the poor are getting poorer and the rich are getting richer. Each and every year, more and more poor people are reduced to eating animal food and verging on freezing to death. I'll restate my past comments about this unacceptable state of affairs: By permitting so many people to be reduced to the depths of degrading poverty, this rich country has an indefensible blight on its soul. This disgraceful situation is not the legacy of the Alliance, but of the leftist policies of the old political parties.

In fact, the right, as represented by the Alliance, is pledging something constructive that will put hundreds of millions of dollars back into the pockets of the poor - increasing personal income-tax exemptions to $10,000. On the other side of the coin, the old parties seem more interested in manufacturing more useless paternalistic, socialist schemes to try to buy an election than in finding a way to give the unemployable poor a living wage. By not making commitments to tackle constructively the poverty issue, with the goal of ending it, they confirm the accusation.

If Canada's citizens are ever to enjoy the same level of political empowerment that citizens of other democracies enjoy, the country's political system must be reformed. The only party offering such is the Alliance. Do we have any option other than to give them the opportunity to try? The archaic "King of the Commons" dictator system could last forever if we don't!

Daniel N. Paul


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