We are once again in the midst of an election campaign and still there is no sign of anything really different being talked about. While taxation and health care are obviously important, we have heard it all said before. Perhaps that is why I feel so unenthusiastic. What I would like to see the candidates talk about are changes to the fabric of our government.
Take for example the Charter of Rights. There have been so many injustices done it its name that something has to be done. We need to make some fundamental changes. I would like to see the Charter of Rights amended to protect only Canadians. I hardly feel that some criminal should be able to step off of a plane and immediately have all of the rights and protections that Canadians have worked so hard to ensure that they themselves enjoy, and I know that I am not alone. Perhaps we should amend the Charter to curtail rights of those convicted of criminal offences and presently enjoying a free stay in one of our fine institutions. The inmates, after all, should not be running the institution. While many think that the Charter is somehow holy, I disagree. It was written by men, and as such, is imperfect. To believe that we cannot add to or amend this document to make it better is simply shortsighted.
There is the senate that remains powerful yet unelected. Many have been pushing for an elected senate for decades, with no political party in power willing to give up some of its influence for the betterment of our country. I don’t believe that it should be abolished, but I do think that changes are well overdue.
Party politics. Some have mentioned to me that they would like to see voters focus more on regional and local candidates and what they stand for. In this way, we could perhaps reshape Ottawa by electing men and women of character. This is a great theory, but I don’t believe it would work, and I’ll tell you why. At the present, we have a party system, where each party decides on its agenda, and the leader of the party is thereby responsible for implementing that agenda once given a mandate by the voters. I believe that this system is part of the fundamental crisis that Canada is now experiencing.
When the leader of a political party can force his MP’s to vote his will in the House, then that leader effectively becomes a dictator. South of us, in the United States, it is quite extraordinary to watch the exact opposite, with many Republicans voting against their President’s initiatives, and many Democrats supporting them. That is what happens when elected officials vote their conscience, and not what the party whip demands of them. In Canada, MP’s are told how to vote on most issues, and if they break ranks, they sometimes are punished by being removed from cabinet. This is hardly a democratic form of governance.
Our judges are appointed, leaving ordinary Canadians no avenue to replace those that consistently hand down meager sentences, much to the disdain of the rest of us. There are more examples than I care to illustrate, but I am sure that one could come to mind if you thought about it. Just last week, a man was acquitted of sexual assault when the judge ruled he was sex-walking. Perhaps our judges should be elected to fixed terms, or at the least, subject to removal by the electorate at large.
We definitely need regional representation in our elections. At the current time, Ontario, for all intents and purposes, decides the prime minister of Canada. While all votes are counted, it is considered by those who live in the West to be all said and done by the time the vote counting gets to the Manitoba border. Our western neighbours increasingly feel that it is time to contemplate separation from our confederation, and the main reason is that they have no political clout, and no input in Ottawa. The will of Quebec and Ontario is thrust on them. To make matters worse, when they lament this fact, they are chided by the elitists in Central Canada. This is leading us into another unity crisis, with the next one coming from Alberta.
There are issues just important that I have overlooked, but that does not make them less important. I know that we need someone who will stand up and actually fix health care and the over-taxation of Canadians, but there are other pressing issues and we need to start bringing them up. We need to find leaders who have a plan for these issues as well as the ones that we hear of day in and day out. You and I must start asking different questions. Only in that way will these issues surface to be dealt with.