By Pam Damoff
Tuesday, June 23, 2015 12:00 pm ·  0 Comments
One refrain I hear all too often is, “What’s the point of voting?” In Halton, roughly 4 in 10 eligible voters chose not to execute their hard-won democratic right to elect their representatives, and only 35% voted for the current ‘majority’ government.
As the newly nominated Liberal candidate for Oakville North-Burlington, I was honoured to stand with Justin Trudeau in Ottawa last week as he announced the Liberal Party’s comprehensive plan to restore Canadians’ confidence and trust in government—a plan for real change. And one I whole-heartedly support.
Real change is about opening up government. The Liberal Party will reduce fees for requesting government documents and extend the public’s right of access to information to all Ministers’ offices, including the Prime Minister’s Office. We’ll also ensure independence for government watchdogs.
Real change is about providing Canadians a stronger voice in Ottawa. Since 2010, I have been a strong voice at Oakville Council, ensuring that concerns raised by residents are heard. This is important to me, and the proposed changes that will strengthen the role of Members of Parliament and introduce more free votes mean that you can be assured that I can be your voice in Ottawa. The Liberal Party will reform Question Period to ensure the answers are relevant to what was asked. The Prime Minister will regularly answer questions from all MPs, not just party leaders.
We will also reform the Senate. Unlike other parties, we’re not going to cynically promise to do the impossible or engage in a lengthy debate with the provinces over the constitution. Instead, we’ll create a non-partisan Senate that serves Canadians, not political parties.
Real change is about making every vote count in every election. As part of a national engagement process, we will ensure that electoral reform measures – such as ranked ballots, proportional representation, mandatory voting and online voting – are fully and fairly studied and considered. And within 18 months of forming government, we will bring forward legislation to enact electoral reform. This is something that the local group, Reclaim Our Democratic Canada, has advocated for loudly; most recently bringing Michael Harris, author of Party of One, to Oakville to speak. We’ll also ban wasteful partisan advertising, toughen penalties for elections fraud and close loopholes in political finance laws.
Real change is about making policy based on facts, not facts based on policy. I know that you are passionate about the environment and green space – both issues I have championed. We’ll let science and scientists speak—even when the truth is inconvenient. And we’ll bring back the long-form census so that local organizations and municipal governments can make informed policy decisions for their constituents. I have heard from local charities that can no longer make meaningful long-term plans because the data does not exist to support them. As an elected municipal official, I have heard our staff tell us that they can no longer provide Council with the information we need because it was included in the long-form census – planning and recreation are just two examples of this.
Real change is about raising the level of service provided to Canadians to a higher standard. I have heard from Oakville residents that this is important to them. We’ll expand digital and phone services. Stop the Conservatives’ plan to end door-to-door mail delivery. Overhaul the Canada Revenue Agency so it serves taxpayers rather than frustrating them. End the political harassment of charities and clarify the rules to reaffirm their important role in public debate.
Liberals will commit to gender parity in all government appointments—and our federal Cabinet will have an equal number of men and women.
As a municipal and community leader, I have brought together residents, business and government to develop outcomes and solutions that bring varied points of view together. We need to ensure that more voices are heard. We need to give you a reason to vote. The Liberal agenda will shed new light on the government and ensure that it is focused on the people. It is meant to serve: Canadians.
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