Toss Almost Half of the Bums Out

With the Federal election looming, I count myself amongst the ranks of the undecided. I don't like the Conservatives but I hate Ignatieff. I like Layton, but the NDP will never form the government, especially after Ontario and BC voters remember the disaster of provincial NDP governments. The Greens could make in-roads, but Elizabeth May is dedicated to whining and not winning. I have promised to vote for the biggest whack-job to encourage him/her. Unfortunately, our riding has only four candidates-- no independent voices, no lone gunman disarmed by the Long Gun Registry forced to participate. I have to not vote, spoil my ballot or vote for one of four people who I don't want to vote for.
A lot of people feel the same way. We're tired of the bickering. We're tired of the opportunists in Ottawa who are spending our money. We're tired of them taking credit for our hard work. Elections are not a meritocracy-- they're popularity contests. The most worthy people are unlikely to get vetted by political parties. People not put forward by political parties are unlikely to get elected. We have an orderly process for electing Members of Parliament. We don't have a fair process.
There are about 450,000 Federal government employees. These people are beyond the reach of the law. They are unelected and there is no way to to make them answer for what they do to the citizens of the country. There are 308 Members of Parliament. When you say you want an elected government that will answer your needs, keep in mind that only 0.07% of the government answers to you by going to the polls.
So almost all of the government is unassailable. Taxes take half our income. The candidates pandering to get our vote are not going to benefit us. We can't remove the democratic process just because unworthy people step up to spend our money. What we can do is de-fang them.
The number of MPs has steadily climbed since confederation. The numbers are arbitrary and meant to represent populations and regions. Nunavut is over represented. Toronto is under-represented. Sheer population numbers make Ontario look over-represented when the opposite is true. But if you halved the level of representation-- brought it from 308 to 150 or 160 MPs-- the numbers could still work.
What would I do with the other spots in the House of Commons? I would give them to you. Take almost half of the seats and fill them will members of the public. Use the jury rolls to find members of the public who are of voting age and select them at random to serve as MPs for their segment of the population. If they are willing to sit in Ottawa for a two year term, off they go. Some will be poor. Some will be rich. Some will have a passion for good government. Some may just warm a seat. Basically, all of the qualities we see if our current crop of MPs would come in at random from these conscripted members of parliament.
If there is an election, their term is interrupted and the balance resumes after we get bamboozled by 160 candidates. People tapped to serve would have the option to decline the offer instead of derail their lives. Their jobs would sit in wait for their return. During their time in office, they would have all of the rights and responsibilities of an MP: they would earn $147,000/yr. (a nice bump above the $65,000/yr. Canadian median); they would be there to represent their region; they could jet back and forth to their riding. The rules of parliamentary conduct would be in play. If the elected MPs wanted them onside, they'd have to work for the support of the conscripted members. One conscripted member may be an ardent Conservative and the next one may be a Green or a Marxist. Random chance would keep the political leanings of the conscripted members balanced.
I recognize that politicians know how to work the meat grinder that is the political process. But I also recognize that they've been doing a lousy job. Government is bloated. It fails us on a daily basis. If we tossed out half of the politicians and replaced them with citizens maybe we could take back our government.

Comments

Cheryl said…
Love this idea -- and it's one that has been floated before. I can't find the article I read recently but I did track down MASS LBP in Ontario that is doing something similar with Civic Lotteries for public input on large projects.
Diana said…
I like the idea, but I think ordinary citizens don't have enough adequate knowledge in order to actually be of positive benefit should they head to Ottawa. Also, how would we ensure corruption would't run more rampant that it does now? As I said, though, I like the idea! Goooooo Mike, go!
Mike DeWolfe said…
I'd argue that the chance for an uneducated person is just as high if we elect them. After all, the NDP elevated a dish-washer through the political ranks to be a minister.
But corruption: I think a system is easier to abuse if you know about how it works and have a buddy system in place to conspire. Putting 150 singletons into the House of Commons means you have 150 people who are not ensconced in the party system.
We have to break the party system because it enforces a variety of dictatorships.
Mike DeWolfe said…
I was reminded about Hedy Fry. A political process that can elect and re-elect Hedy Fry could successfully accommodate even the craziest member of the public at large. She helped to set the bar very low for accountability, honest and sanity in government.
richard said…
Okay, so we toss half the bums out.
What do we do with the other half?
Mike DeWolfe said…
We leave that other half to be the elected representatives. They get enough power to drive legislation and government, but they'll need to make it work with the buy-in of the other half of parliament.
Cappy said…
Not bad writing for a Canadian. Like your beer somewhat, and thanks for John Candy, Martin Short and Rick Moranis.

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