Letter to the Editor

It’s the system! Why don’t minority governments last four years? Why political gamesmanship instead of balanced legislation through…

It’s the system!

Why don’t minority governments last four years?

Why political gamesmanship instead of balanced legislation through respect and co-operation?

Why the seen need to bring forward a coalition government? It’s Canada’s electoral system!

Canada’s last election was called by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in the opportunistic hope of winning a false majority of 40 per cent of the vote.

What would have happened to these disgusting government bills to deal with Canada’s present economic situation if, instead of a minority government, Canada was governed by a false majority government? These now retracted bills would have passed!

Harper was criticized at the Conservative convention in Winnipeg and told that he should have had the majority he sought. He only needed two per cent more votes than the 38 per cent he received. Under Canada’s present electoral system, with less than 40 per cent of Canadians casting Conservative ballots, he could have had a government with 100 per cent power.

The representatives of the other 60 per cent of voters would have had no power to do anything but whine and try to embarrass the false majority government for change to a bill.

Does this look like representative democracy to you?

Bright though he might be, Harper has not been able to make a minority government function effectively using respect and co-operation. If Canada had a more effective electoral system, with little or no chance of false majority governments, prime ministers would have to learn how to function effectively with a minority government.

Canada would also have a more truly representative democracy. Many interested electors have said that minority governments have far more reason to be transparent and accountable than majorities.

Will developing a far more effective electoral system, ready to operate before the next election is called, be high on the coalition’s list of plans?

Canadians shouldn’t have to go through another ineffective and frustrating election — in which less than half of those who cast ballots will be able to point to an elected MP that their vote had helped to elect.

The system proposed on the following website would be simple. Ridings would be twice as large, and there would be only half as many.

In Parliament, approximately half the seats would be riding seats and half would be proportional seats.

To keep relatively local representation, the seats would be formed into areas with between four and eight seats. Each area would have its own popular vote for designating the proportional seats. All seats would be won in the election. When applied to Canada’s 2006 or 2008 election results, effective voters rose from under 50 per cent to over 90 per cent.

Because we would have a more representative democracy, all areas of Canada would be represented by both government and opposition MPs.

To see a proposal on how this change could occur before the next election, see www.electoralchange.ca.

At the bottom of the first page, you will find links to both a proposed preferential referendum plus a PDF of the presentation.

Dave Brekke

Whitehorse

20:20 vision,

an elders’ mandate

When elders speak, silence takes hold of the place. People are mesmerized by the power of their presence, intrigued by the wisdom of their words and emotionally moved by the truth that echoes in their hearts.

The elders remind us that we are just one of the many participants in the natural world, that an intimate relationship between us and the environment is the essence of our survival, health and identity as people. They tell us of our kinship with the land, the soil, the mountains, the waters, the animals and plants and how everything is imbued with life and sacredness.

The elders admonish us to treat the natural world with reverence and respect, for all living things and natural entities play an essential role in maintaining the web of life. They beg us to be true stewards of the Earth; to take only what is needed without greed, to protect the watersheds from being poisoned, and the forests that produce the air we breathe from clear-cutting. With tears in their eyes, the elders ask us not to separate or divorce ourselves from the land and its inhabitants.

Then, time is up. We walk outside where truth and wisdom are suffocated under the sensory clutter of modern society. Business continues as usual. We assign a monetary value to animals, plants and minerals and develop plans and management strategies to exploit them.

At one point in evolutionary history, the human being split from the biosphere and progressively cultivated a dysfunctional relationship with the Earth, the planet’s ecology and with itself.

Our alienation from the natural world has created an ecological crisis that threatens our very existence. It is the source of physical, psychological and spiritual suffering that rampantly spreads around the world beyond geographic, cultural, racial and socioeconomic boundaries.

A number of factors explain the pathological alienation between human consciousness and the rest of the biosphere that holds Homo sapiens in its grip.

What they share at the core is an anthropocentric view of human nature ascribing intrinsic value exclusively to humans as they are assumed to be the crown and ultimate measure.

Such a categorical hierarchy measures other participants in the biosphere solely by their usefulness to the crown, thus not only disconnecting the human being from the rest of the natural world but also from members of its own species by serving as a socio-cultural paradigm to dominate what is perceived as “lesser,” for example, other species, people of different skin colour, women and minorities.

Soil erosion, global warming, air and water pollution, deforestation and the decline in biodiversity not only continue but actually accelerate.

The Earth hurts, no doubt. We all feel her pain. After all, we are dependent and interconnected with everything else in the web of life, hence we respond with physical, psychological and spiritual distress manifesting in a myriad of ways, from cancer and respiratory problems to depression and anxiety, to a loss of meaning and purpose in life.

Ecopsychology holds that there is a synergistic interplay between planetary and personal well-being, that the needs of the planet are the needs of the person and vice versa.

The world mirrors our own self and its story tells our own tale.

We have to reconnect to the larger web of life in order to heal ourselves and the Earth. The question is how do we mend the split? It is not an easy task, I know, but how bad do things have to get, I wonder?

Are we going to allow ruthless companies like Goldcorp to pollute our land and water, and the Yukon Party government to implement a new forest act that does not serve the people?

Do we wait until the forests are gone, the moose and caribou have disappeared from the land and the salmon cease to swim in our waters?

Or, do we choose to listen to the pleas of the elders?

Peter Zimmermann

Annie Ned Creek

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