Thursday, January 26, 2006

Electoral Canada

Let's compare the 2006 Election results with 2004:


Conservatives: 99
Liberals: 135
NDP: 19
Bloc: 54
Greens: 0
Independent: 1

Total: 308


Conservatives: 124
Liberals: 103
NDP: 29
Bloc: 51
Greens: 0
Independent: 1

Although the words "our prime minister is Stephen Harper" leaves an extremely sour taste in my mouth, I am pleased to see that the NDP picked up ten more seats.

The most ludicrous thing about the election process is the serious lack of proportional representation. Nationally, 665 876 people voted for the Green Party. They got 100 000 more votes than they did in 2004. That's over half a million. Did they get a seat? No. I hate to think of the fact that when your Conservative candidate, for example, wins in your riding, all of the other votes do not count. Sure, you are supporting the other parties, and you are giving them financial support, but those votes count for nothing to put the candidate you voted for (assuming it isn't Conservative) in Parliament. Jim Harris, leader of the Greens, as well as Jack Layton have been pushing the idea for proportional representation. Many countries in Europe follow this system, and both leaders suggest that Canada should incorporate it into our age-old first-past-the-post electoral system. This would take a lot of work, and yes, a lot of our shiny dollars, but I think that this would be a much fairer system and would benefit in the long run, once it would get started. Then again, it seems most people around here are more concerned about the short term, rather than the long term, so who knows if proportional representation will ever come to be in Canada.

I suppose that brings me to my next topic - long term vs. short term. If you think about it for more that two seconds, you'll get to thinking as to why the hell does our environment come next to last on things of importance? Aha, wait, I can answer that: Canada has (seemingly) so many resources, and they won't run out of them in my lifetime and probably not in my kids' lifetime, so it's all okay! Think about it this way: if our environment collapses, for instance, and we are swamped in pollution, unclean water and air, we'll all eventually die. And, if we're all dead, I don't think we'll be able to discuss politics anymore, will we? We won't be able to discuss all of the important things that have taken precedence over environment, such as the months-long "Why Liberals shouldn't be in power" compaign. In August, I wrote an entry about wastefulness and how careless people are when it comes to the environment.

I think the Green Party are, unfortunately, too ahead of their time. People don't start worrying about the environment until it becomes an immediate concern. They practically have to be slapped across the face a few times before they'll realize, "oh, it's getting hard to breath, weird". And then, all they will probably do is try to rectify it through short-term means. People who do not care about the environment and are wasteful really make me angry. I don't understand how people are not able to understand and contribute to the earth's sustainability. Jim Harris, the Green Party leader, said this once, ""If 20 years ago I said to you the majority of Canadians would be drinking bottled water, you would have laughed and thought I was crazy. But if I say today that we if don't fundamentally change, and in 20 years time people may be breathing bottled air, are you going to laugh?"

Again, in terms of how we favour the short-term outcome... I am sure you are all aware that the roads are salted in the winter, in order to make for better driving. The problem is that much too much salt is used on roads. The salt doesn't just float or melt away; because it is a mineral, it stays. It eventually gets pushed to the side of the road and ends up in the ditch. Slowly, year after year, more plants and trees are dying as a result. The salt makes it nearly impossible for anything to grow. Of coures, using salt on highways is less of a problem, considering how far the road is from much else. The problem remains on city, town, and country roads. People want to see black and dry roads, with absolutely no snow at all, no matter what the environmental cost. Sand would be a good alternative because, even though it doesn't make the roads look ultra black and sleek, it still makes it that we can drive without slipping, and it would not kill any grass, plants, or trees. If we simply used less salt and more sand, the roads will be just as easy to drive on, and we could spare the environment a little. I can't see the harm in that.

So, what I'm really saying here is "all we are saying is give peace a chance."

Actually, no wait... that's not at all what I was saying. I'm talking about how being green is the way to go, man. That other hippie message, peace, will surely come some other time.


Effovex said...

Germany has an half-and-half system where people have two votes: one functions like ours and goes towards electing a local representative; the other is given to a party, and then each party gets to choose an amount of representatives proportional to the share of the "party" vote they got. So half the Bundestag is composed of elected regional representative, and the other half consists of selected candidate from each party.

Personally though, what I'd like to see is not proportional representation but party-less politics. Not too likely, I'm afraid.

bene said...

Green party ahead of it's time? Hardly. They're far behind. Maybe if the previous generation had taken the Green ideals to heart... There's an essay called "The Simpons Generation" that was published in the 10th Anniversary edition of "Shift". Some of it is still hanging around here and there (waybackmachine cache of web site), but the key sections, where the author (Chris Turner?) talks about the traffic in Silicon Valley during the tech boom, belching carbon monoxide, a mix of dioxins and furans, many other nasties, and bemoans the fact that this was never a revolution, that it was just an extension of the existing system - that's missing. It's always missing. 30, 40, 50 years (think Rachel Carlson, 'Silent Spring' in 62) of environmentalists pointing at the problems with our choice of industry, technology, lifestyle. What do we get? The disposable broom!

Zaza said...

I agree with what you are saying, Bene, and perhaps saying that the Greens are ahead of their time is the wrong way to word it. Even though the issue of environment and the interest in preserving it has now been around for decades, very little has been done. So, even if people did start thinking "green" quite awhile ago, it seems as if the issue has not budged on the importance scale. It's just sad that no one takes the Greens quite seriously enough, considering that they are dealing with a very pertinent and urgent issue. Yup, disposable brooms - you said it.