Monday, January 11, 2016

Canada needs democratically-nominated candidates

Candidates in federal elections getting 10% of the vote receive public subsidy (rebates) of 60% of election expenses up to the approved limit.

Today, we hear of parties appointing candidates. Why should an undemocratic process be rewarded?

Fair Vote Canada says we should change Canada's electoral finance system "to require registered federal parties that wish to receive a candidate's election expense subsidy to nominate that candidate democratically, that is, by vote of all their members (or their delegates) living in the electoral district or region with valid memberships as of a specified cut-off date.”

Appointed candidates?

Any public discussion of Proportional Representation with any multi-member riding component quickly leads to comments on “candidates appointed by the party.” This happens whether, for example, it’s in a seven-MP STV district, or in a 12-MP MMP district with five regional MPs and eight or ten regional candidates (such as the seven local ones and a few regional-only ones) nominated and ranked by each party. This is unfair, since parties already appoint local candidates when they choose to.

Democracy is the core
Proportional representation means fair and unrestricted competition among political parties presenting democratically-nominated candidates. Democracy is at its core, not more power to party elites.

Parties can nominate several candidates at once democratically, in the same way they nominate single candidates: by vote of the membership in the district or region. Depending on local geography, it might be entirely an in-person meeting, or might include online voting.
If a major party finds it necessary in a very rare case to appoint, why should they not be encouraged to follow the German example: if a nomination meeting faced serious problems, call another meeting rather than appoint?   Michael Chong’s Reform Act aimed at preventing party leaders from holding the appointment power. Why should parties qualify for election expense rebates for a candidate not democratically nominated?

New parties may need to appoint candidates in ridings where they have no membership, but those will be token candidates spending nothing, and not getting the 10% of the vote required to qualify for rebates of 60% of election expense.

At one time some parties needed to appoint candidates in order to nominate more women, but this is no longer necessary.

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