Green and growing

My story about being a Green politician in Canada, and why it was the best thing I ever did.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Door to door canvassing

One of the Elections Canada requirements to be a candidate is that you have to get 100 voters in your riding to sign a list endorsing their belief that you should be on the ballot. They do not have to vote for you, they just have to believe in democracy enough to allow you on the ballot.

Since I live in one riding and work in another, I do not know 100 people in my home riding. My riding assoication friends have helped me out be getting signatures. We also did a little door-to-door canvassing. This was quite an experience. First, it is darn cold. Second, most people do not want to talk to politicians. After all, 40% of them don't even vote. Third, some people will not do anything to aid and abet a party which is not "their" party. Fourth, many people do not trust politicians, people who knock on their door, and especially, politicians who knock on their door. It takes about two hours to collect 15 signatures.

I don't understand why this ritual of signature collections exists. It definitely serves large parties, as they will have at least 100 members in their well-established riding associations. They can hand out the forms at one meeting, and have them handed back in a few days. What do these signatures mean, anyway? These people who signed don't know me. Some felt they were participating in a democratic process, and some just felt sorry for me. I was never asked for identification by anyone. I think the signature process is a barrier for new parties and new ideas.

If I'm a candidate endorsed by a political party and the party got 1800 votes in this riding in the last election, what further purpose is served by this activity?

I have to admit that I became angry at people who didn't want to sign. It's no skin off their noses. After I had cooled down a bit, my friend Norm reminded me that the political system has made people that way .. the system disenfranchises them, alienates them, insults them. It says, vote for someone, who then goes to Ottawa and does whatever they want (or whatever their party leader wants). Even if you vote for someone who wins, they get one out of 308 seats in the Parliament. And most people vote for someone who "loses". Isn't that sad? In my riding, 60% of the votes were cast for someone other than the MP. Who speaks for them? No wonder they don't want to talk to politicians.

I think it is incumbent on politicians to act in such a way as to restore voter faith in the political process. Central to that objective is the need for electoral reform. Please get out and vote for the people who will make it happen.


Post a Comment

<< Home