STUDENTS AND ELECTORAL EDUCATION

I suspect Trudeau will keep this platform promise:

“We will engage with first-time voters and encourage more Canadians to vote.

Every young person should be registered to vote when they turn 18. We will work with interested provinces and territories, and Elections Canada, to register young Canadians as a part of their high school or CEGEP curriculum.”

“To ensure that no young person loses the opportunity to vote, we will mandate Elections Canada to stay in contact with them if they change addresses after graduation.

Finally, to encourage more voter participation, we will support Elections Canada in proactively registering Canadians from groups that historically have lower turnout, such as students.” (1)

Trudeau attacks the sympton, not the cause. He disillusions voters, including young voters, by lying. R​​​eal Lavergne, president of Fair Vote Canada, said young people “appear to be particularly outraged” by the government’s electoral reform backtrack, (2) and then Trudeau tries to force the young people into voting. Why should they vote? Instead of being honest with voters, the politicians need to try to force/manipulate students into voting to try to make up for all the votes I suspect they will lose in future elections. And isn’t “forcing” or “coercing” the students into registering anti-democratic; the decision to vote or to register to vote should be an individual decision. Not voting, for many people, is a means of protesting. What will be the penalty if they don’t register and vote; will they fail high school, will they be denied jobs, etc.?

How will Elections Canada track the students after graduation? What method(s) will Elections Canada use to “stay in touch” when students change address; what method(s) will be used to “proactively” register students?   Will a tracking device be attached to the students on graduation day? Will Canada Post forward any change of address to Elections Canada? Will all government/crown corporations be required to forward information to Elections Canada (Revenue Canada, etc.), taking away the taxpayers choice?   Will there be a database tracing their every move? Wherever they go, will the student’s information be shared with political parties (and all the political parties friends) so the politicians can harass them into voting and contributing to their party’s funds? Will the students not have a choice? It is interesting that the methods to be used were not mentioned.

Wouldn’t it be better to teach the students about the various electoral systems around the world, how they work and discussing, truthfully, the pros and cons of each system? This could be a course starting in the first year of high school and continuing each year. This is already being done to varying degrees but in some cases they just look at the major ideologies and political systems. I think it would be useful to have an understanding of other systems. I would also hope that the discussion would open the minds of the students to the possibility of a system without politicians, more citizens assemblies, a horizontal and integrated system instead of a top-down system, a made-in Canada system, and so on; in essence, thinking outside the box.

I would also like to see a similar course(s) offered through evening/weekend/online programs to the rest of the citizens; this course(s) should be free. And it should be designed, and taught, by qualified teachers who are non-partisan. Each electoral option should answer the same questions, for example how do independent politicians fit into each option; are the potential politicians selected by the parties and beholden to them or, as in the case of STV, do the parties select several possible candidates and the people select the one they like which means the candidate must work for the people, as well as the party, to win the vote. [Disclaimer: my preferred system, to date, is the single transferable vote (STV), as recommended by the citizens committee in British Columbia].

Fair Vote Canada has put on small seminars to explain three forms of electoral systems. However, while in many respects a good effort, the seminars were not long enough, did not appear to be prepared by qualified teachers, did not have enough examples, and left some people confused. In addition, Fair Vote seemed to be ‘pushing’ their preferred choice. Fair Vote also calls itself a multi-partisan organization and has politicians such as David Merner, Vice-President of Fair Vote Canada and a Liberal candidate in last year’s federal election, (3) and Bob Rae, on the national advisory board of Fair Vote Canada (3), was an Ontario NDP leader and was interim leader of the Liberals (Wikipedia). I think the involvement of politicians taints the organization.

How can people vote for an electoral system if they don’t know/understand the choices? I suspect the politicians would like to keep the citizens ignorant so the politicians can “advise” the people on how to vote; and the politicians would advise the people to vote for the system that benefits the politicians not the citizens. And that usually means no change at all.

 

  1. Liberal election platform – Liberal Party of Canada, 2015
  2. Voting reform groups ‘disappointed’ by abandoned Liberal promise – Brendan Burke, 02 Feb 2017, CBC News
  3. Some Liberals join NDP in push for ‘fairer’ voting system – Leslie MacKinnon, 21 Sept 2013, CBC News

 

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.