I just moved into St. Johns recently with my partner Brittany, and we are expecting our first child in January. I always imagined I wouldn’t have a child until things started to improve in the world or until I lived in a community I could feel comfortable raising a child in. St. Johns is such a community but I still am greatly concerned about the world I will be sharing with this new life. I have been observing politics on all levels for many years and believe I have some ideas to share here. How the votes land is secondary. This is not sport nor war, but life in all its sweetness and disappointments…and we are trying to live in a good way and believe all Manitobans want our systems to reflect this wish we all share.
There are many reasons people might choose to run for MLA. Personal ambition. A comfortable job with a pension. A vision for society they think is correct. Personal issues they need to project onto the society. To bring ‘hope and change.’ To use the election as a platform for their pet issues. Some of these are the basest and most negative reasons, some noble, but to the members of our society it increasingly doesn’t matter.
The election turnout in the last Manitoban general election was just shy of 57%, meaning 43% of citizens couldn’t bring themselves to do that most minimal act of democratic participation, marking an X on a ballot after going to a neighbourhood poll. Consider all the children and teenagers of our society along with landed immigrants, permanent residents, and refugees who can not vote, and it’s clear the majority of people are not electing the MLAs. Some people of these groups are quite informed and active in their communities, but have not yet been granted the right so many take for granted and do not use.
Consider our first past the post system, where only the largest block of votes elects the MLA, regardless of whether this number is 50% of the voters who did vote or not, and we see that actually a small minority of the population elects the MLA. The second or third place finisher’s votes count for nothing. A far cry from Elections Manitoba’s bus ad boast that ‘we all count.’ In effect we have a two-party political system in Manitoba like American politics at large. And as we’ve seen in the US, the issues quickly get lost, the partisan bickering and vitriol is brutal, and very little progress is made.
How can the MLA actually represent all the constituents when only a small block elect him or her? They cannot.
I am running to bring a few new ideas to the table on how we practice democracy in our society. Something really worth discussing considering much of the world is taking direct action to enact this virtuous word democracy.
i) The first past the post (FPP) system must go. People who might vote Green or Liberal or for a strong independent are voting NDP still to keep the Conservatives out or vice versa, even if they are already tired of the party they’re voting for’s policies. Continue reading