A Question for You
Do you feel like you have a voice in government?
Because of the Federal election, I have been writing about country issues – security, defence, trade, global affairs, health, education – but you seem more concerned about local issues – roads, water, sewer, parks, crime. My guess is that you want a louder local voice.
The argument has been made (Rousseau in particular) that the number of elected representatives should be in inverse proportion to the size of the population. That is, in a very small group, everyone should represent themselves and every decision should be taken by having everyone vote – ie, direct democracy. Then as the population increases the people should be represented by elected representatives – ie, representative democracy.
And, as the population increases, the ratio of representation should decrease.
The USA has 435 members of the House of Representatives (ignoring the 100 elected Senators) for a population of 327 million people for a ratio of 751 thousand to one. Canada has 338 MPs (ignoring the 105 appointed Senators) for 37 million people – 109 thousand to one. The UK has 650 MPs (ignoring the 800 members of the House of Lords) for 65 million people – 100 thousand to one. In Oliver we have five elected municipal representatives – 1,000 to one.
Thesis: We have too many MPs and Senators, and too few municipal councillors.
Test the thesis with this scenario: Double the local representation and cut the federal representation in half. Fewer MPs and Senators means less office space, smaller salary envelope, smaller pension liability, more time for debate, more participation. With ten town councillors there would be more ideas on the local table and significantly more debate than now.
We could have an elected Parliament of 169 MPs and 52 Senators – thirteen MPs and four Senators from each Province and the three Territories. In my world, the 13 MPs and four Senators from BC would all be elected at large and not by ridings. I see no disadvantage having 17 elected representatives at large for each province or territory instead of having population-based ridings throughout the country. Ontario and Quebec might be upset, but I don’t care as long as the result is better government. In addition, I suggest one election for both houses every seven years. I have previously said that the time between elections is too short.
I would rather give my vote to the best 17 from a field of a hundred or more throughout BC than be forced to choose one out of four in each riding. I don’t even care if all 17 come from the same town as long as they are the best. Locally, I would rather choose 10 for Council than five even if there are only 10 locals who are willing to stand for office and serve the community.
Would that not give a greater voice in government?
I say, put the representation where the people live.