–Apathy and contempt threaten Canadian democracy

I totally missed that my other (less inflammatory) submission to “The Real Agenda” on got picked up yesterday. It’s already moved to place on the ‘featured article’ list and has 45 comments (in comparison, my religion article got around 110).

Apathy and contempt threaten Canadian democracy

While we watch Arabs fight and die for the right to vote a world away, it becomes obvious that in Canada democracy does not work anymore.

The voter turnout has been in freefall for many years now, and it seems our political parties are content to let it continue. Undoubtedly, this disengagement benefits some parties more than others, which creates a stake in corrupting the political system.

Yet even the mainstream media is partly to blame, continuing the narrative of voter fatigue and apathy, neglecting issues that do not fit into convenient sound bites.

The problems run much deeper and are more systemic than simple laziness. Our current government has been found in contempt of parliament three times more than any other government in the Commonwealth, and the previous two also fell under their own corruption.

Our electoral system rewards sweeping majorities to parties that receive two in five votes and renders no voice to more than a million voters. Even worse, in a single riding many often vote “strategically” and end up voting for the lesser of the evils; this despite game theory telling us that this is still voting for evil.

Furthermore, due to the history of our country, some ridings represent fewer than 30,000 voters, while others have upwards of 170,000. This means that if you live in Labrador, your vote is worth five times as much as some people in Ontario and Alberta.

Meanwhile, politicians perpetually ignore younger Canadians, who in turn are even more disillusioned, with upwards of 65 per cent of those under 25 staying home in 2008.

There is no shortage of possible solutions.

Fair Vote Canada argues that proportional representation and a new method of electing our representatives would revitalize our system.

Others point to the poisonous rhetoric that infects our national dialogues. Despite the recent successful coalitions in Britain and Australia, people still speak of them with disdain in Canada. Attack ads have filled the airwaves for months now, getting so bad as to prompt the Green Party to release a satirical attack ad on attack ads.

There are also suggestions to reform our house of sober second thought. Yet the Triple-E Senate has fallen off the radar as Stephen Harper has stuffed the building full of patronage appointments.

The key here, though, is that if none of our leaders acknowledge the issues plaguing our democracy, even fewer are proposing solutions. So inspire me, supposed leaders of Canada: what will you do to fix our democracy?

Ian Bushfield is currently a masters student in physics at Simon Fraser University and lives in Vancouver. He is president of the B.C. Humanist Association and blogs at and

3 thoughts on “–Apathy and contempt threaten Canadian democracy”

  1. “Apathy and contempt threaten Canadian democracy” — hey, I represent that remark 😛 haha.

    Actually I agree with the remark. Good article btw.

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