As Canadians, we grow up believing that we live in a democracy. In school we are taught about the importance of exercising our right to vote, and that the politicians we elect to the House of Commons are there to be our representatives - to give voice to the concerns of their constituents and to give ordinary citizens a say in how the country is governed.
Does Your Vote Count? demonstrates just how far Canadian government has strayed from this democratic ideal. Using excerpts from interviews with current and former politicians, civil servants, and academics, author Paul Kemp argues that, in many important ways, our vote does not count. In reality, only one person holds almost all of Ottawa’s decision-making power: the prime minister. Backbench MPs, and even many Cabinet ministers, have little or no influence over government policy. Moreover, party discipline is so strictly enforced that MPs rarely express opinions or viewpoints that differ from the party line, either in House debates or in parliamentary committees. Perhaps most alarming, the ability of Parliament to scrutinize government spending has been severely limited.
Does Your Vote Count? challenges us to take a closer, more critical look at how well our government and electoral system are serving us as Canadian citizens. We may still have the right to choose who sits in the House of Commons, but how meaningful is this right if the people we elect into office have been stripped of all power and influence?
Paul Kemp is a documentary producer and writer whose credits include the acclaimed television documentary Canada's Brain Drain. He has conducted close to 300 on-camera television interviews on public affairs issues facing Canada and was a government and economic policy commentator. A University of Manitoba graduate, Paul now resides in Toronto.
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