Thursday, May 5, 2011

What do you think of Young MPs?

I must say that the second most significant disappointment, after the election of a fascist majority, is the attacks on young MPs that are going on everywhere.

Next time you wonder why people between the ages of 18 and 25 don't vote just think of all the attacks that have been perpetrated against young MPs in the aftermath of this election. Young people are marginalized, belittled, and berated by the political establishment when they actually get involved. So why would they bother to vote? Do people really want the young involved or do they just want them to stay quiet and obedient?  And for all of those who hate the NDP, just keep in mind this will just bring more young people to the party with the most women and the greatest number of youthful MPs ever elected. And eventually the next generation will crush the conservative agenda and eliminate the power of corporations to run our political system.


Anonymous said...

I don't have a problem with the age of candidates and MPs. I do, however, have many concerns about the lack of proper screening, not finding candidates with some level of public engagement somewhat related to politics, not insisting that the candidates are familiar with the riding and constituents they intend to represent, not being able to speak the language most of the people in the riding speak, not engaging voters during the campaign, not showing any kind of history of public service, then finally dodging the press and not showing up in the riding leaving constituents to go to the MP the candidate ousted.

My concern is also with voters who vote for people without bothering to find out anything about them.

It's the offhand process of selecting candidates, the lack of engagement during campaigns, public disinterest in who they vote for that worries me greatly.

900ft j

Kirbycairo said...

I understand your concerns 900ft but consider this simple fact. If so many of these MP were not so young we wouldn't be hearing about the other issues you raise. That is a problem.

As for your other concerns I am not concerned about problems of the NDP simply because when the election started they really didn't expect to win more than a few more seats, particularly in Quebec. They were a relatively small party with very limited resources and they simply could not be expected to properly vet everyone. This has happened to a number of new parties even in Canada let alone elsewhere in the world. (Also, remember this little tidbit - The Conservative party recently had a deputy minister for Quebec that didn't even speak any French. )

Your other concerns, however, are very real. There is a disengagement in the citizenship, a general lack of knowledge, a lack of commitment etc. The apathy is in part I think partly a result of the redefinition of society's members as "tax-payers" rather than active citizens. And the right-wing is eager to keep people disengaged.

I am convinced that one of the primary methods of countering the apathy is to have a system of Proportional Representation. Active political reform and education are the ways to battle disengagement and apathy.

Anonymous said...

kirbycairo, I didn't say NDP in my comment for a reason - I don't see the issues I mention as the sole domain of any particular party. I want to be clear on that.

Proportional representation for sure. It's outrageous when a government holds a majority despite 60% of voters not supporting it. Just read harper squeezed into his majority by just over 6,000 votes (14 close ridings). Not good representation of the voters, this system we have.


Sixth Estate said...

I think you're absolutely right, and I have to wonder whether certain commentators know exactly what they're doing in pouring out contempt upon politically aware youth.

Anonymous -- while it's true that we should know our local MP and candidates personally, I'd say this is the entirely natural consequence of a system in which backbench MPs are reduced to such a level of political inactivity that a man-sized plush toy could pretty much do the same job. It is over-bearing political parties, and not an ignorant electorate, who are to blame there.

If we're going to have close connections between MPs and the electorate, then the solution is obvious: we need many times as many MPs as we do now. With around 100 000 Canadians per MP, the system makes genuine riding-based democracy impossible.

doconnor said...

Anonymous, I'm sure the NDP would have been very happy to select candidates in these areas who where more engaged in their ridings, but there probably weren't any. While the NDP had been expanding in Quebec, until last month these areas where NDP no-mans-land with only a few inactive members.

900ft Jesus said...

I'll try this again. I don't consider this an NDP issue, which is why I didn't mention NDP in my comment. Age may have drawn attention to the problems of poor screening, and while age has nothing to do with the concerns I expressed, those concerns are still real, regardless of what brought them out.

I also think it's terrific to have young members, not only to give fresh perspective and engage youth, but to have sitting MPs representing younger voters' interests.

I understand that in the case of the QC candidates, the NDP didn't expect to win. That's obvious. But that's what I'm trying to say - parties still need to run decent candidates. Not just in case they win, but out of respect for the voters. If they can't find suitable ones, then don't run in certain ridings, review your recruitment program for candidates, improve it.

Some people say they run the candidates anyway just for the voter subsidy they get, knowing the riding is a write-off. Again, that is not why parties should be running candidates.

Kirbycairo said...

Dear 900j
I understand what you have been saying. It is, however, understandable why people would be talking about the NDP in this context.

The problem is that in our present situation smaller parties are in a catch-22 situation, lacking resources to properly attract, or even vet all of their candidates with the thoroughness that larger, richer parties can, they try the best that they can. However, failure to run a full slate of candidates will seriously impede their chances of being seen as a serious, national party. I think, that given the difficulties, smaller parties are making the best out of a difficult situation. And if on their way to bringing silenced voices into the political mainstream, they end up with a few less qualified candidates, then this is a price worth paying, particularly given that parties like the Conservative Party of Canada raise millions and millions from rich supporters in whose interest they govern.

In other words, you are targeting the symptoms of the disease rather than the disease itself. It is all good and well to have strict standards but if those standards end up benefiting the larger parties that serve the rich and powerful, then you have defeated yourself before you begin.

Democracy is in crisis for the simple reason that those with the money control the democracy. On the road to overcoming this problem mistakes will be made, challenges will be faced, and some people will be entirely out of place. And believe this - the rich and powerful will do everything in their power to maintain their positions and pleasures. The road will be long and hard.

doconnor said...

If the NDP didn't run in certain ridings then it removes that choice for voters. Apparently, it is choice that Quebec voters wanted to make.