Letters - Democratic reforms



Neepawa Banner & Press

Improving democracy, or more correctly the way in which we practice democracy, is difficult. There are dozens of different views, most with some merit and many with inherent problems that are no better than what we have.

There is nothing to prevent us from some modifications to our present system without creating a new system and new problems.

The first step would be to elect half of our federal parliament every other year. The initial election would elect half of the parliament for a two-year term and the remainder for a four-year term. Thereafter all elections would be for four-year terms.

One half of the commons seats would be up for re-election in two years but thereafter, we would be electing one-half of the MPs every other year. Bear in mind that it would not be the same electoral districts electing an MP every other year. Electors would be going to the polls every fourth year unless they change the electoral district they live in.

That would ensure continuity of parliamentary operations while ensuring we would have a continual turnover of new faces, ideas and ideals. Political parties would be more inclined to communicate with electors rather than spend an entire election campaign disparaging their opponents.

Electors would have the opportunity to change the face of parliament every other year. As elected seats change, a majority government could become a minority, or a new majority could result.  We would not feel we are ‘stuck’ with results for a four-year term.   

The second step would be to invoke term limits of two four-year terms or eight years. A person could sit out for a four-year term and run for election again.

The third step would be to replace MP pensions with service severance pay. If an MP is defeated, or has reached a term limit, he or she would be entitled to one month of salary for each year or part thereof served. Aspirations of a career in politics would end unless you consider eight years to be a career.

The fourth step is to reduce election spending limits by 40% and split the balance between elections. One half of the reduced sum spent every fourth year would be spent every other year. The amount of public subsidy for party election costs is obscene.    

The fifth step is to prohibit negative election advertising. Advertisements demeaning and disparaging the opposition are useless. It is standard fare during ‘question period’, but there is no excuse for dragging that uncouth lack of civility and decorum into general elections. We have the option to turn the TV off; we need to stop negative ads.    

The sixth step is to require all third parties engaged in political activities to register with Elections Canada and produce audited financial statements annually. In addition, third parties:

would be prohibited from receiving donations and funding from outside Canada;

would have to disclose the salaries of all people engaged in political activity; and

would be prohibited from advertising and activity during the writ period.

The seventh step is to reconfigure the senate into four non-political divisions, one for each constitutional division; East, Ontario, Quebec and West.

Eliminate all political positions; Each division would have a Leader elected from within that division; All senators would elect a Speaker; Equal debate time would be allotted to each division; Committees would have equal representation from each division.

We need the senate to be non-partisan representing all of Canada and ensuring that legislation is equitable and fair to all divisions.

John Feldsted

Political Consultant & Strategist

Winnipeg, Manitoba