The honourable know best


How much does an election vote really count for? I have often wondered that, as I’m sure many others have as well. It is wise to remember that there is strength in numbers. A vote in an election is not intended to help the voter “get their way”. Rather, the act of voting – when participated in by as many eligible voters as possible – is supposed to be a way for us to see the bigger picture of what the country, or province, or municipality wants as a whole. 

Something that has always concerned me is the lack of accountability, transparency, and consultation with the public during the lengthy terms that our politicians serve. Four year terms for politicians mean that in an average Canadian lifespan (82 years), and factoring in the first 18 years of life during which voting is not allowed, the average Canadian has just 16 chances to vote for each level of government throughout their whole life. 

Considering the numerous hugely impactful policies that are debated and passed (or not passed) by all levels of government week after week, it can start to feel like 16 votes is not enough. Allow me to provide an example. In September of 2021, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was re-elected with a minority government. Liberals got 32.62% of the popular vote. Conservatives – 33.74%, and NDP – 17.82%. The Liberals won more seats, and were thus elected despite not having the highest number of votes. I have no problem with this system, because otherwise, some areas of Canada would have more voting power than others. It is still valuable to remember, however, that fewer than a third of Canadians supported Justin Trudeau 2.5 years ago.

Due to a coalition with the NDP (which Canadian voters were never allowed to have a say in, by the way), Justin Trudeau’s government has been able to pass many pieces of legislation easily. One of the most well talked about, is the carbon tax. It’s hard to find someone in our local area who isn’t enraged by the recent carbon tax hike, likely because rural Canadians rely heavily on fuel for transportation, as do farmers when feeding the rest of the country. Throughout Canada, approximately 70% of Canadians oppose the carbon tax. Whether a Liberal or Conservative supporter (or otherwise), it is easy to see how in this economy, a carbon tax is not popular. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I will point out that houses, rent, food, utilities, clothes, and countless other things have skyrocketed in price at unprecedented levels, much of this as the result of the carbon tax being passed along from businesses to consumers. 

When multiple polls clearly show that 70% of the country opposes something, as do several provincial Premiers (some of them Liberal), and now even NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, keeping the carbon tax in place makes democracy seem like a distant fairytale. What is the point of holding elections once every 4 years, if those we elect to represent us do whatever they want in the face of clear and direct outrage and polls suggesting that a vast majority of their constituents disagree with them? In Canada, the Prime Minister and Premier as well as federal politicians are given the title “Honourable”. It’s starting to feel like rather than being represented, we are supposed to simply accept that the honourables know best, and can decide what is best for us. 

I don’t play partisan politics. I vote for the person, not the party. I vote for whoever I feel will be prepared to take constituents’ concerns into consideration when voting in the House of Commons, regardless of party affiliations. I remember being disappointed when interviewing SD&G MPP Nolan Quinn before he was elected, when he used the phrase “get it done”. This phrase has long been used by Progressive-Conservative Premier Doug Ford as a slogan to suggest that his party is working hard for Ontarians. “Get what done?” is the question. I felt that now-MPP Quinn seemed to have trouble answering in my interview with him. When asked about the closure of rural schools, he told me his party valued rural schools very much, perhaps forgetting that they had already been in power for 4 years previously, and were therefore responsible for the closures!

I felt abandoned when Doug Ford’s government took a hard stance against CUPE education workers in late 2022. Once again, my MPP was not only unresponsive to locals’ concerns, he actually became completely unreachable during the whole ordeal, such that it became the running joke of several social media memes. I am sure that residents of Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes felt a similar sense of abandonment when their esteemed MPP Steve Clark had to resign as Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing due to the Greenbelt scandal. I have met MPP Clark several times, and he is a very personable individual who seems to care about his community. Perhaps he was a scapegoat in the Greenbelt affair. As usual, the only people who truly lost were the millions of people who deserve an honest government that listens with both ears. 

Besides the brainless carbon tax, and a general feeling that government officials never face consequences for bad or even unethical leadership, what actually inspired this editorial was an article about Doug Ford rejecting a Chief Medical Officer recommendation to raise the legal drinking age to 21 years. He stated that his government prefers “treating people like adults”, and for the first time in a long time, I agreed with him. While I think there should have been bigger issues on the agenda besides “buck a beer” when Ford was first campaigning for his job, I can agree that those who are old enough to serve in the military and risk their lives for their country should be allowed to legally drink a beer or a glass of wine in said country. I actually would support lowering the drinking age to 18 in Ontario. 

One drop of hope is easily lost in an ocean of concerns. In a world of astounding technological advancements, is there not an economical way for Canadians to vote on pressing issues (such as the carbon tax), rather than trusting that a ballot cast every 4 years counts as having sufficient say? Voting increasingly feels like deciding which direction the dog should be facing when let off his leash, and then having no control over which way he turns for the next 4 years. Like many Canadians, I am tired of the dog defecating in my backyard. 


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