A new study conducted by public-opinion research firm Samara has found that only 55 per cent of Canadians are “satisfied with the way democracy works in Canada.” This number has fallen from 75 per cent in 2004, the last time Samara conducted similar research. Hmm, I wonder what happened in the interim to sway public opinion…
Furthermore, only 36 per cent of Canadians said they “were satisfied with how MPs do their jobs.” This low number of satisfaction is especially shocking when you consider that only 0.4 per cent of Canadians are represented in parliament by Rob Anders. Unless the 2,287 people surveyed mostly resided in Calgary West, it’s safe to say that several other MPs aren’t bringing home the bacon.
That said, the blind partisanship displayed by sophomoric goofballs like Anders is clearly part of the problem. Samara reports that 61 per cent of respondents feel their elected officials do a good job at “representing the views of their party,” while only 46 per cent feel they do well when it comes to representing the views of constituents. Which probably goes a long way in explaining why many people vote for the name of the party on the ballot more than the name of the person beside it.
In any case, there’s no question that these strict party lines in the House of Commons often don’t serve the best interests of constituents. As one former MP told Samara, “the party isn’t always right for my riding. The party, in [many] instances, was terrible for my riding.” Case in point, I can personally recall the Conservative candidate for Trinity-Spadina reading from party talking points that attempted to paint the G20 summit in a positive light in a televised debate. Suffice to say he was a car-dealership owner from Markham; anyone who actually lived in Trinity-Spadina couldn’t say anything good about the summit while keeping a straight face.
So how do we get ourselves out of this mess? Well, Samara suggests that “steps should be taken to ensure political parties—and the MPs who serve in them—better reflect citizens and their priorities,” noting that former MPs have tried to raise the issue in the House of Commons. However, the research firm is resigned to the fact “this new research suggests that MPs’ efforts are not well-recognized or that they’re overshadowed by political party messaging.” In other words, the common citizen is completely screwed.