-10.6 C
Friday, January 17, 2020
Connecting Our Communities

Change coming in Ontario, but none of the mainstream offerings worthy


News Briefs

Woolwich nixes traffic islands Displeased with the troublesome pedestrian islands installed during the Region of Waterloo’s reconstruction of Church Street...

Woolwich proposes 5% tax hike for 2020

Budget talks underway this week, Woolwich council is looking at five per cent hike in property taxes, a...

20-year-old agreement causes a stir

An Elmira environmentalist’s “smoking gun” appears to be shooting blanks. Al Marshall, a long-time critic of cleanup efforts at...

Chicken barn destroyed by fire Thursday morning

Fire completely levelled a two-storey chicken barn on the Third Line of Mapleton Township Thursday morning....


light rain
-10.6 ° C
-8.3 °
-13 °
66 %
75 %
-8 °
-4 °
4 °
-6 °
-7 °

The three traditional parties leaving much to be desired – the Liberals must be banished, and the NDP and Tories each have traits that make them unworthy of our trust – Ontarians can’t be blamed for being both uninspired by the election and unsure about where to cast their votes.

Getting rid of Kathleen Wynne and her party appears to be the overwhelming theme.

The current government has far exceeded the three-strike rule when it comes to incompetence, waste and corruption. We’ll vote the bums out, and the new ones will likely bum us out.

The solution? Something akin to the historical revolutionary uprisings that sprinkle our defence of democracy looks good, but we’re perhaps not ready for that just yet. There are rumblings, however, in favour of that option we’d all like to see on the ballot: none of the above.

Don’t like the candidates on offer? Vote NOTA and send them a message. Ontario, in fact, has a None Of The Above party, which is fielding candidates in 42 of the province’s 124 ridings (the closest being Kitchener Centre). It’s primary mandate is what it calls the  three Rs of direct democracy – Referendum, Recall and Real electoral and legislative Reforms that give voters control of politicians and parties. Candidates are accountable to their constituents and there are no central party policies or controls of elected MPPs beyond the binding direct democracy principles.

In that regard, NOTA is part of a worldwide movement of new and independent parties and candidates campaigning for direct democracy and voter empowerment policies. If elected, it pledges to end the partisan system of politics in the province, inviting the best MPPs from other parties to form a cabinet – a more representative form of democracy.

Beyond the NOTA party, None Of The Above as a ballot option would be a way to express dissatisfaction with the status quo.

It’s not a radical concept. In fact, variations of it exist in a dozen countries, including France, Sweden, Finland, Belgium, Ukraine and India. Even one U.S. state, Nevada, has the option, in place since 1976. The option has weathered legal challenges, and although NOTA can’t “win” an election – in the event of a plurality, the victor would be the candidate with the next-highest vote count – it can make a statement. An Associated Press report notes that “in 1998, Democratic U.S. Sen. Harry Reid defeated then Republican Rep. John Ensign by 428 votes, but more than 8,000 voters rejected both men and opted for ‘none.’”

Such measures don’t yet exist in this country, but in Ontario you can decline your ballot. Those slips are supposed to be counted separately, becoming a de facto NOTA vote.

Given that we at times have only the choice between various bad options when we go to the polls, we increasingly stay away. Apathy, they call it. Really, many of us have become detached simply because “they’re all the same” – and we don’t mean that in a good way. None-of-the-above would give us a reason to show up, sending a clear message.

Ideally, a large number of NOTA votes, perhaps even a plurality, would be reason for another election, perhaps in the vein suggested by the upstart political party: candidates who had their chance and were found wanting would be sent on their way.

Conventional wisdom holds that mainstream political parties won’t push for electoral reform because the current system serves them just fine. At the federal level, the Liberals, and occasionally the Conservatives, have formed majority governments while capturing less than 50 per cent of the popular vote – at times much less. Justin Trudeau campaigned on electoral reform, then quickly found a way not to deliver.

This state of affairs is precisely why we need electoral reform, from tweaking the Elections Act to sweeping changes to the way we vote.

Advocates of change call on all the parties to combat voter apathy brought on by unfair election practices, chronic lying by politicians and the current electoral system.

A loss of faith in politics and politicians can be tied to the way business is done in Ottawa and, of course, in the provincial legislatures.

We all know most politicians are in for themselves, to get all they can take – all the talk about serving the people is some much smoke up our collective backsides. Maybe they should just admit that reality: Call the system bloated, self-serving and ill-suited to the needs of most citizens. Tell us you’re in it for yourself. Tell us that money greases the re-election skids, that once in office the only priority is staying there. We know it. You know it. Then put in place a process to minimize the most blatant abuses – yes that would mean handcuffing yourself and putting the cookie jar out in plain view.

Perhaps we should give up the illusion. Maybe this is the crux of recent talk about democratic reforms: devolve the central powers, give voters more options (referenda, proportional voting) so that there’s less focus on the top. We don’t have any real leaders, so we don’t need the infrastructure.

Left to their own devices, today’s crop of politicians will not make changes to benefit the public – oh, they’ll pay lip service to that, but that’s all. Clearly, reform is needed. Politicians and bureaucrats won’t move away from their culture of entitlement, but perhaps if the public lets them know we want none of it …

Ontarians are unlikely ready for such a step. Instead, the focus is on removing a Liberal government that long ago revealed its contempt for the citizens of this province, though it’s taken many of us a long time to recognize that fact. Some strategic voting and another strategic blunder by the Progressive Conservatives may net results we’ve not seen in the better part of three decades.

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to The Observer's online community. Pseudonyms are not permitted. By submitting a comment, you accept that The Observer has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner The Observer chooses. Please note that The Observer does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our submission guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.


The new face of health promotion

There’s a new face around the Woolwich Community Health Centre. Gebre Berlihun has taken on the role of public health promoter after the retirement of 25-year employee Joy Finney in October.

In Print. Online. In Pictures. In Depth.

You obviously love community journalism. Thanks for visiting today. If you have a great local story, let us know.

Applejacks extend winning streak to three

The new year continues to be good to the Wellesley Applejacks, who picked up a pair of wins over the weekend to make...

Kings win two more to keep streak alive

The Elmira Sugar Kings extended their 2020 winning streak and their hold on the conference standings with a pair of wins over the weekend.

EDCL donates $1,000 as thank-you to Floradale firefighters

Thanking the Woolwich Fire Department, Elmira District Community Living this week donated $1,000 to the Floradale station. Firefighters from Floradale...

EDSS student wins U.S. baseball scholarship

It’s January and nowhere near Florida, but St. Jacobs’ Blake Jacklin is in a baseball frame of mind. That’s not a passing fancy,...

New app a one-stop shop for region’s waste program

Not sure when your garbage will be picked up? What’s currently allowed in the recycling bin? There’s an app for that.
- Advertisement -