Veteran journalist James Travers has observed that it has taken 500 years to wrestle power from the King and only 50 years to get the power back in one man’s office.
Other scholars of Parliament have long-lamented the erosion of Canada’s democratic institutions. With the continual growth of executive power, as exemplified in the repeated use of prorogation, and the declining role of parliamentarians, Canada has witnessed the continued disengagement of its citizens from the political process. This has resulted in the voter turnout rate hitting an all-time low.
As the newly appointed Liberal Party critic for democratic renewal, I am embarking on a pan-Canadian dialogue on democratic renewal. There are four crucial areas in need of reform. The first, Parliamentary Reform, seeks to increase the ability of Parliament to hold the Government to account. The second, Party Reform, seeks to implement the recommendations of the Change Commission to reinvigorate the democratic spirit within the Liberal Party. If the party is not seen to be fair, transparent and take people seriously, we will not be able to regain the trust of Canadians that we would govern that way. Thirdly, and true democracy between elections with meaningful citizen engagement and improved civic literacy are a crucial component in rethinking the role of institutions in how they enable Canadians to shape public policy between elections will be essential to rebuilding the relationship between citizens and their elected representatives. Lastly, we need to examine means of Electoral Reform, in order to ensure that Parliament is representative of its population and especially the need to have more women elected.
The challenges presented by this issue need the insight and input of Canadians across the country – what does ‘representation’ in Parliament mean in the 21st century, how can government be more transparent, how does government obtain the best possible information with which to make decisions – especially from those citizens most affected.
Our goal is to find real solutions, for real challenges, by real people: a demand for change needs to begin by engaging the citizens in focused dialogue today! Let us begin by crafting solutions that effectively address the disconnect between citizens and the decisions that get taken on their behalf. Send out the call to action to your grass roots and give those who wish to take a seat at the table the opportunity to have their voice heard across the country!
Let us seize this opportunity to use technology as a communication tool to connect us in our thoughts and discussions on how we can chart a course that will make Canada a nation that’s stronger, fairer and a more vibrant democracy.
All you’ll need is a room to accommodate your group and a computer hooked to the Internet. If you have a webcam and a microphone a new dimension of “live online” will be open to you as well! We will be using our electronic workbook to form the basis of our discussions.
If you would like to join us online, please click this link and get hooked up with us via Elluminate: www.tigurl.org/townhall/
If you have any questions, or require technical assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact us! We look forward to seeing you online!