Sometimes I think about the American electoral system and I feel just plain jealous. The thought that I could go into a voting booth and check the box next to the person I want to be the president gives me butterflies. Did you know it doesn’t work that way in Canada?
First of all, we don’t have a “President”, we have a “Prime Minister”. Essentially that is just a different name for the same thing. But what really sucks is that in all my years voting, I’ve never checked a box next to the name of a candidate for Prime Minister. Instead I vote for a candidate for that political party in my “riding” (the area in which I live – dictated by my postal code). This candidate, once elected, will then take the concerns of the people in his/her riding to parliament and make them heard (or in the case of my current MP, Lynne Yelich, disregard the concerns of people in her riding and do whatever she wants).
So, instead of looking at what the potential Prime Ministers might be “all about”, I have to look at what the candidates in my riding are “all about”. I choose the person that I think will best represent my needs and desires in my riding, and that person is supposed to then go to parliament and make my voice heard when those issues come up.
The person that becomes the Prime Minister is dictated by how many members of their political party win in each respective riding. So, for example, if there are more Conservative candidates elected in ridings across the country than Liberal (or any other party’s) candidates, then the leader of the Conservative party becomes the Prime Minister of Canada.
Why does this suck?
What if I want a Liberal government running Canada, but the Liberal representative in my riding doesn’t share any of the beliefs or hopes for my country that I do? What if the Liberal representative is practically going for the opposite things that the Liberal party leader believes in? This happens a LOT.
Previous to last year I always voted for the candidate that I believed would represent me well in my riding and let the chips fall where they may for whomever the Prime Minister might be. Then last year I thought I should turn things around and vote for the party that I believed should be running the country; despite the fact that I believed the representative of that party in my riding is an complete and utter fool.
This year is the first year that my vote will be easy. I won’t be voting for a representative as much as against an entire party. Currently my MP is Lynne Yelich, whom you might remember as being the robot who disregarded my concerns about Bill C-61. Lynne is a representative of the Conservative party in my riding. The Conservative party is currently the leading party in Canada with Steven Harper (another robot, who basically takes orders from Dubya) wearing the hat of Prime Minister. I will not be voting for them for a myriad of reasons – not the least of which being that they don’t give two shits about the environment.
If you are Canadian, and you find the whole electoral system frustrating like me, then you might want to check out this website:
They, too, believe that the Conservative government is the wrong government to represent Canada to the rest of the world, and they can help you to figure out which candidate might be the best one for you to vote for in your riding if you want a pro-environment government in place in Canada. I think most people can agree that it is time for a change, and if we can stop splitting our votes across party-lines, we can make that happen.