It is hard these days not to do some navel gazing when it comes to our governmental system. Don’t get me wrong, we are extremely blessed to have the freedoms and rights that we enjoy. This does not mean that we do not have room for improvement. I am referring to the recent actions taken by the Prime Minister, using the unelected Senate, to kill legislation passed by the democratically elected House of Commons or judges who fail to convict criminals.
There are some simple ways we could make our system more accountable and more democratic. We have politicians who have become nothing more than fixtures on municipal councils and regional boards. It makes you wonder if there should be term limits. Term limits may be a controversial topic, but I think it is something that should be looked at, not only at the municipal level, but all the way to the House of Commons. I believe that if we were to limit terms we would see more progressive actions taken by elected officials. Politicians have a tendency to get into ruts. This comes as a result of becoming too comfortable in their positions. This leads to a status quo mentality that prevents forward thinking.
The Senate should be an elected house. If the Prime Minister is going to use the Senate as a tool to drive his agenda against the majority of the elected House, it must become an elected body. Without it becoming an elected body, we must question whether or not we are actually a democratic nation.
Closed door corporate lobbying at the provincial and national level must be made illegal, as should all forms of corporate funding of political candidates. Politicians are elected to represent their constituents, not corporate interests. This does not mean that business has to take a back seat but it needs to be transparent. The idea that our politicians answer not to the people who elected them but to lobbyists and corporate financiers just shows how undemocratic the system has become.
The most important reform I can think about would be to our justice system. I am not a fan of most things American, but they do seem to have one idea that I think we could use: elected judges. Judges continually let serious offenders off with nothing more than a slap on the wrist. I am not calling for the days of hanging judges, but if our judges had to stand for election every so many years, the public could hold them accountable. If a child pornographer or a rapist or murderer got off with a couple years in jail, the citizens could say enough and get rid of the judge. Eventually we would have a balance where judges would be handing out punishments that are equal to the crime. I believe we would no longer see repeat offenders getting house arrest or a couple of months in jail.
I don’t think the ideas I have proposed are too radical nor are they too difficult to implement. Of course there would need to be debate on them, and maybe a referendum or two, but at the end of the day, I think we would be better off. We have too much at stake not to consider looking at the failures in our system. You might not agree with my ideas, but if we can bring new ideas such as these to the table, we are taking an important first step.