Through this year's election, it is becoming more and more obvious there is something wrong with the electoral process in this country. Democracy seems increasingly like an abstract sentiment far out of reach of the hands of Canadians. Most critics blame this on, among other things, the parties on the ballots. They shout accusations of lack of choice and too great a similarity between them. The real fact of the matter is that the problems lie not in the parties we have to choose from, but rather that we have to choose from parties in the first place.
The idea that a party with a fixed set of values and policies can do even a shoddy job at representing Canadians is ludicrous. When a government is bound by following party lines and members are actually punished from going against it, it loses sight of what it's trying to do--it, in essence, loses sight of representative democracy. The result is that candidates can never make decisions with their constituents' best interests in mind, especially if they are contrary to their "official" position. Why? Because they can't be. Party politics forbid it.
I, for example, cannot find a party whose platform I completely agree on--and I'm certain I'm not alone. If it is so difficult--and I would argue almost impossible--to find a party that embodies the beliefs of the voting public, then what, you may ask, is the solution?
Vote independent. Vote for a candidate whose hands are not tied by party lines and who can consult his or her constituents and act accordingly. Vote for someone who, ideally, will listen to you and will govern for you, not for their Red Book. Vote in protest of the party system in Canada. Someone running as an independent is your only chance to voice your opinion and actually have your views heard above and beyond that of any policy.
The downside is that, in most cases, independent candidates will not get into parliament even with your vote. Too many Canadians reject these people as having zero potential to affect change. Without a party behind them, they have no backing power. However, this ineffectiveness is the reason why the system needs to change. And you, oh voting public, are the only ones who can do this.
The electoral process in Canada needs dramatic improvements, and voting against and in contrary to it, if nothing else, is a good start. The immediate change needed here may not be the party system--as that would prove a long, hard task--but rather the mindset of Canadians, which, sadly, has become too dependent on the system to examine anything else. When you vote on Nov. 27, send a message to your leaders and to your peers. Let them know that you're tired of listening to what they have to say and that you want to be heard. As an individual. Completely and independently.
James Keller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.