Research released by Samara this month shows that only 55 percent of Canadians report being satisfied with the way our democracy works. Less than 10 years ago it was 75 percent.
The majority of this dissatisfaction rests with their representation. Only 36 percent of Canadians are happy with the way MPs do their jobs.
It is interesting to note this dissatisfaction given that voter turnout in the 2012 election was just 61 percent. (Up slightly from 58.8 percent in 2008).
One of the most disturbing things for me during the 2008 coalition crisis was the number of Canadians who took the Prime Minister at his word when he told them that the Conservatives had been elected government and any attempt to remove them from power was unconstitutional. Canadians should know that they elect MPs, not a government, that parties choose their leaders and that the party that holds the confidence of Parliament forms government.
I have wondered often if most Canadians were actually aware of how Parliament was supposed to work they might be less critical of their representatives. Looking at Samara’s research findings, though, it seems that most Canadians are satisfied with the way their MPs represent the party, what they are dissatisfied with is how constituents’ views are represented and how constituents’ concerns are dealt with. All in all it’s very confusing trying to figure out what this means.
Overall, Samara’s results seem to show that Canada’s politics need to change. Canadians want their MPs to represent the concerns of the constituency and MPs, in exit interviews, want to feel like they are doing more than just representing the party. In our first past the post system, parties have to exist, but people are tired of parties fighting parties on the national stage and want to see real issues being discussed.
It all points to the need for major reform, but who is going to take the first step?