THUNDER BAY – “Electoral reform must be acted upon before Canada descends into despotism”, said Thunder Bay Superior North MP Bruce Hyer. “As news comes out that unelected Senators have been fleecing taxpayers for hundreds of thousands of dollars, and police are investigating how the PM’s chief of staff tried to cover it up, Harper has prorogued Parliament for a third time to avoid answering to Canadians.”
“This latest closure of Parliament is yet another abuse of our democratic process. And the abuses are piling up faster than ever as the Prime Minister hoards more and more power for himself,” complains Hyer.
The independent MP makes his comments on the eve of Canada’s third annual Democracy Day, September 15. Canada’s Democracy Week, running from September 16-23 this year.
Hyer is seeking to putting the spotlight back on one of Canada’s most urgent issues: democratic reform.
Hyer states, “I am no fan of the unelected and unaccountable Senate”.
“But Senate reform isn’t the real story. The elephant in the room of our dysfunctional democracy is fixing the way MPs are elected to the House. No constitutional change would be needed…the only roadblock is getting politicians to improve the flawed system they used to get elected. This Democracy Week, voting system reform is the one thing powers that be in Ottawa will studiously avoid talking about.”
Under the present system, as an independent MP, Hyer does not have the same playing field as other elected MPs and candidates for political parties. Both elected MPs and the candidates for the registered parties have the ability to reach out to donors and issue tax receipts for donations. As an independent MP Hyer can not do that.
“Canadians live with an albatross around their necks. It’s our electoral system, one which hands 100% of the power to political parties earning only 39% of the vote,” complained Hyer “Our first-past-the-post system of electing MPs over-represents the biggest party every election, and it takes away seats from smaller parties to do it. It spits the country into misrepresentative regional power-blocs. It discriminates against women and minorities. It has unnecessarily limited voter choice and disenfranchised Canadians for too long…and it’s a big reason voter turnout is declining. Canada desperately needs to undertake reforms that will make the election results proportional to the popular vote; if a party gets 39% of the vote, they should get 39% of the seats. That’s fair, and that’s democratic. If we wait too long, the PM’s vested interests could become so entrenched in Ottawa that real reform may be impossible.”
Hyer has introduced eight legislative measures on democracy and government accountability, including initiatives on increasing cross-party cooperation, ending excessive party discipline, limiting the abuse of confidence, and electoral reform. Hyer will mark Democracy Week 2013 by speaking on a panel on government transparency in Winnipeg this Thursday.