Voting passion missing

Governments like it when voters aren't engaged during elections

Dear Sir:

There was an old Wayne & Shuster bit where the Senators were debating across the floor of the August Upper House: “The Members opposite are ignorant and apathetic!”

A joy-filled reply from the other side: “We don’t know and we don’t care!?  Cue the band, start the dance.”

You can Google Wayne & Shuster if I’ve lost you already.

What interests me is that ignorance and apathy used to be considered a bad thing in matters of public policy.

No more.  Now, it is what our government wants from us.  Wise up everyone.  They want us out of the game.

Proof: The federal government is in the middle of free trade negotiations with both the European Union and the Pacific Rim (read: China.

Did you know about these negotiations?  You may well have not, because the government is not saying anything about it.

Harper isn’t talking;  he doesn’t even want you to know it’s happening.

There will be no public discussion about what is being negotiated because Harper thinks it is none of your business.

We will get the details of the deal after it has been inked.  We will find out what we have given up this time only after it’s gone.

What Stephen Harper really wants is a nation of ignorant and apathetic voters.  That will suit him nicely.  He will be able to announce a free trade deal with China and half the country will not even notice, or probably care about what we may have given up.

Am I the only one in the room who remembers the 1988 federal election?  That was a good one.  The Washington Post wrote extensively about the healthy democracy in Canada.  They bemoaned relative lack of engagement of Americans in their own democracy.  The Canadians really showed them how it should be done; highly impassioned engaged debate, finally resulting in a seventy six per cent voter turnout on election day.

That was a good example of what democracy was intended to be.

Voters were then interested in the stakes and informed itself of the issues and made the most of their opportunity to express their wishes.

The reason The Washington Post was so dismayed by this was that American governments, being a little quicker on the uptake, had long since learned that low voter turnout was far more advantageous to the incumbent than having an engaged population.

So the last thing you wanted was for the population to know what you were doing so they could care about it.

After the last federal election, everyone who understood the issue was expressing dismay at the low voter turnout, but it was entirely predictable.

And notwithstanding all the government’s stated desire to engage the population, especially young Canadians in politics, they obviously don’t.

They’re just BS-ing us.  They don’t want us engaged.

They know full well the less engaged we are the more likely they are to get re-elected. If they were serious about re-engaging the population in Canadian public policy, they would keep us apprised of the free trade talks.

Canadians would become as excited about that now as we were in 1988. But the government in Ottawa doesn’t want that. We may get in their way.

Dave Menzies,

Terrace, BC