I was planning on rushing off to an advance poll before the election but delayed and delayed and then thought I might as well wait until election day. In the back of my mind, I had doubts that I would hustle out to the voting booth even on election day. There was simply no motivation to vote. I did vote, but only about 44% of eligible Ontario voters made it to the polls.
The Blue party garnered a large majority of the seats but when you analyse the numbers you see that the PCs got about 40% of the votes of 44 % of the eligible voters. I reckon that means about 20% of the people in Ontario who could have voted elected our provincial government for the next four years. Doug may take that as a ringing endorsement but I think it may be an indication of malaise in our democratic system.
Why are so many people not voting? Have we become disillusioned, distrustful of politicians and the system, or simply do not care or realize that what happens to our lives, economically or socially, depends on what the governing party tells the bureaucrats to do?
Oh, I know we have an obligation to cast a ballot, a right that our predecessors fought for, and we certainly do not want to lose those rights in case we ever get a chance to make needed changes to our system of governance. However, the more promises I heard, the more financial analysis I had explained to me, the more hospitals to be built (no mention of a plan to staff the hospitals or LTC facilities with nurses and doctors), roads to be built on 413 farmlands, passenger railways strung across the northern hinterlands, ores to be dug and smelted and the size of primary school classes, the more confused I became.
Watching the main party’s leader’s debate on TV, I began to fantasize that we might do better to have some kind of a coalition of four equal co-premiers each assigned to their political philosophy as it pertained to running the province. The Blue party could be in charge of Trade and Commerce; the Red party could look after Health and Education; the Orange party leader could be in charge of Labour and Minority Persons' affairs; while the Green people could look after the Environment and Sustainability.
In the background would be the bureaucrats, the un-elected Purple people, running things and projects for the various colours. I mean, Parties.
My colour fantasy began to crumble when I considered what party or colour I would want looking after Justice, Civil Rights, the Weather, Communications, the CFL and pre-election giveaways. A rainbow coalition of parties seems impossible under our current system but you can appreciate how I might like the Conservatives to be in charge of commerce but not in charge of health and education because they have a record of cutting the latter to favour the former.
Of course, one can look back at the mess the Wynn Liberals made; Mike’s Uncommon Sense Revolution; Bob Rae’s disaster, and going back to the guy who created a legacy problem, Bill Davis and the Separate School system.
One has to wonder if we had had some type of a coalition or cooperative style of government if we would have made some of the decisions in the past that did us no good. Perhaps our personal needs, desires, and sense of community are so diverse that we can only agree on central issues and rights. We have to accept a compromise on some things even though we may think that a compromise satisfies no one. The first step towards a more representative government may be abolishing the first-past-the-post electoral system.
So you can see why I had been hesitating to vote at the advance polls. I would like to have been able to choose to support a party that promises to act along the lines of my ideas and ideals. I do not want to vote for the None of The Above party but would rather vote for All of The Above. Alas, as I feared, the system asked me to mark one X on the ballot, not four: Blue, Red, Orange and Green.
At least I marked a ballot and now feel I have the right, if not the obligation, to make political comments about gas taxes, health care, education, LTC inspections and the slot size of walleyed-pikes.
The good thing is that in this fall’s Municipal election I’ll be able to vote for more than one candidate. Now, about that new arena; the homeless people; next year’s taxes; and the potholes on X Street . . .