Yup you read that right. Now I know we are Canadians, and as such like to keep our politics, like our religion, on the down low. But as we move towards the 2015 Federal Election I do want to encourage an informed vote, for which ever local candidate one decides to support.
Some key points to remember under the Constitution Act 1982:
1) We do not vote directly for the Prime Minister, if fact this is not even a constitutional role, basically it is perfunctionary in that the party that wins the most seats’ leader becomes the first minister.
2) Know the local candidate more than the brand, because it is the local candidate elected to represent your local communities and be your voice. Ask yourself if they would adhere to an old Reform Party principle, current Green party practice, that the constituents will overrides the parties ideology of votes in the House of Commons. That is that the MP’s are not whippable (when all MP’s are informed by the party how they are to vote).
3) The only vote that can truly be an automatic no confidence vote in the House and send us back to an election is on the budget, unless the vote is called to be a non-confidence vote.
4) Currently we have a law on the books for a fixed election date every four years, but under the Constitution the Majority party can call for an election with consent of the Governor General within 5 years of being elected, unless having lost the confidence of the House.
5) The Loyal Opposition is not there to oppose outright, they are there as sober second thought within the House of Commons before the bill goes to the Senate, to improve the laws for the people. As are all Opposition parties.
6) Our government is not a label of the majority party it is not “Conservative” or “Liberal” or “Green”; it is The Government of Canada, speaking for all Canadians, and our constitution guarantees that it is to be one of “Peace, Order and Good Governance under God”
7) Do not let Religious or Ideology Fundamentalists state that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is anti these things, for it was written in consultation with all aspects of Canadian Society.
If we as a nation are supposed to expect our politicians to move beyond ideologies and work together for the greater good, we must hold them to a higher standard. We must be anti-attack ad, anti-cult of personality, we must challenge for a higher discourse, one of ideas, one of wisdom, one of true leadership at the community level. These are the discourses that built our nation under the Greatest Generation.
And where did these discourses happen? In family homes, community centres, church basements. Whether they were gathered around televisions, radios, books, or simply cups of tea/coffee. These are conversations that changed our world, crossing ideological boundaries.
This is the informed community we need to rebuild, and what I want to encourage Canadians to do in their own homes. Whether it is documentary night, or a book and brunch, or just coffee clatches. But the idea is to let go of our ideological groundings and to open up a simple discussion:
What is Canada to us?
Which candidate best represents that?
Some great reads to inform these discussions I would like to suggest (and please in the comments leave other ones and some documentaries or websites) are:
Think Big by Preston Manning (2003, McLelland & Stewart)
Who We Are by Elizabeth May (2014, Greystone Books)
The Longer I am Prime Minister by Paul Wells (2014, Random House)
How We Lead by Joe Clark (2014, Random House)
Hell or High Water by Paul Martin (2009, McLelland and Stewart)
The Right Balance by Hugh Segal (2011, D&M Publishers)
Speaking Out Louder by Jack Layton (2011, McLelland & Stewart)
I would also encourage reading any works by the abover writers as well as Pierre Trudeau, Lloyd Axworthy, Peter C. Newman, J.S. Woodsworth, Tommy Douglas, Lawrence Martin, Andrew Cohen, Chantal Hubert, Romeo Dallaire, and Donald Savoie.