True value in government can only be created at the interface between those who serve and those to whom they serve. Given the increased size of the recently appointed Harper cabinet, as well as Mr. Harper’s well established habit of driving all decisions through the PMO, it’s unlikely Canadian will see much improvement or recognition of their needs.
The values needed most in the coming years are those more closely associated with a digital, web-and-cloud-based world in which we find openness, flexibility, collaboration, innovation, and ease of group or individual communication. The opportunity for meaningful change seems to have slipped by the Conservative this time around. Change has changed, but our governments seem not to have noticed at all.
Getting people more involved in our democracy certainly would be a good beginning toward improving both representation as well as the value we receive from government itself. This would requires (1) increasing the number of people participating by giving them a reason to vote, and (2) better access to party/policy information. Mandatory voting only punishes the “unwilling”; it addresses the symptoms rather than the cause. For most, the symptoms come down to apathy based on “my vote is meaningless in my riding where one of the other parties always wins,” or a lack of interest based on the notion “it doesn’t affect my life.”
A more positive mandatory approach would be to: (1) change the voting structure for those willing to vote to a benchmark 50+1% majority which would include a mandatory first and second choice at the local riding level; and (2) offer an attractive tax incentive to everyone who votes. This approach could result in a greater volume of incentive-based voter participation as well as a broader base of voter (near) satisfaction since a greater number of people will have either their first or second choices recognized. This wouldn’t play well with the “one party or none” crowd, but for them it really is only about the power of imposing an ideological will . . . rather than about what could truly represents the country and can add true value to the decisions our governments take.