When The Writ Comes Down

Dear Federal Politicians,

We here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke don’t tend to write about you too often. Partly it’s because you seem so far away and distant from us but mostly because your behaviour has been nothing short of reprehensible for the past five years or so. Like watching a version of Gossip Girl set in an exclusive boys school.

But it seems that unless we are prepared to leave the country for the next month and half (which, if this kind of spring weather keeps up, wouldn’t be a bad idea) there’s no ignoring you.  So think of this little missive as some friendly advice.  A How To manual offering tips and coaching on How To best woo us and secure our votes.

It’s relatively simple, really. How about running on a healthy, vibrant, strong city platform? As has been regularly pointed out, some 80% of Canadians live in urban centres. Now, to be fair, I think those numbers are a little misleading because if I understand correctly that’s based on the definition of ‘urban’ as non-agricultural centres. Any old shithole with more than 10, 000 people and, let’s face it, only hillbillies live in places with 10, 000 people.

So I’ve done some quick number crunching in order to provide you with a more realistic picture.

According to the 2006 census (of the long form type, I imagine), just over 16 million Canadians live in cities and city regions of more than half a million people. That’s roughly half of the country’s population. Throw in another 2.65 million who dwell in places with more than 250 thousand people, and another 2.84 million from cities of a 100k+, and that’s roughly 21.5 million Canadians living in cities with populations of more than 100, 000.

That’d be about 2/3s of us. A healthy majority to tap into if you’re looking at it from a strategic standpoint. It would also challenge the regional blocks that have taken hold of our system, pitting west against east, Quebec against the rest of us and maybe even the urban-suburban divide that is so ably exploited right now. No city can be strong if only a part of it is strong.

So Toronto might realize that it has much more in common with Calgary than it does with Backwarddumptown, Ontario. And Calgary would see that, language aside, Montrealers share a similar view of the world since they live, first, in a big city and only second in a different province. Vancouver, well, it doesn’t care right now because they are dreaming of a Stanley Cup but I don’t think they would take exception to my theory on this.

We’re a big hunk of voters, is what I’m saying, us city folk. Lining up a bunch of us under your banner would go a long way to helping form a government, you federal politicians. Maybe even a majority, you know what I’m saying? What percentage of the 66% of us would you need to secure that? I’m asking because I don’t know. You’re the experts. I shouldn’t have to do all the work for you.

Except, of course, it doesn’t work like that. Because we are still subject to an antiquated first-past-the-post, disproportionally representational electoral system that has not been significantly altered since Confederation, nearly 150 years ago when almost all of us were still fucking farmers! How is that possible? We bitch and moan about how turned off politics we are, how little our votes count, the degree of disregard our elected officials hold us in, the apathy, the cynicism and yet we continue to allow ourselves to be undemocratically represented. Of course we’re apathetic. For most of us, our votes don’t count and the act of voting is an empty exercise. Of course our politicians cynically disregard the majority of us. They don’t need a majority of us to be able to form a government even a so-called majority government.

This system of ours that we so proudly hail as a model of democracy the oppressed of the world should fight to emulate doesn’t really hold up in the modern light as something  truly democratic. It enables politicians to ignore sizeable portions of the population by simply pandering heavily to small regional hot spots.  For the past 5 years we’ve had a government in Ottawa that has maintained power without a single representative in the country’s 3 largest metropolitan centres. So is it at all surprising that we continue to languish without a national transit strategy or national housing strategy, where both these are needed most in the places with no voice in the government?

OK, so maybe what we should be looking for, those 60+% of us who never actually elected our governments in Ottawa, is a party dedicated to the cause of electoral reform.  Let’s all read up and get familiar with the work being done at Fair Vote Canada. Learn about true proportional representation, the benefits and the ways in which we can go about achieving it. Without it, nothing much is really going to change and we all just might end up agreeing with the Conservatives that this was an unnecessary process. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

It’s time we stopped that from happening.

urbanly submitted by Urban Sophisticat

12 thoughts on “When The Writ Comes Down

  1. The Machiavelli, I mean Harper Gov’t has fallen so the writ will drop tomorrow. The election will likely fall on May 2 because the taxes due for April 30 fall on a Saturday so people have till May 2 which is a way to have less voters turnout if they are procrastinating with their taxes owing.

    You conservatives won’t get many seats in Toronto because people are educated and a Con MP has not been elected since the 80s…

    P.S. remember to save energy during Earth Hour!

  2. As usual, I loved this article and I especially loved that you didn’t take the 80% urban residents at face-value.

    But I do have a correction to this line: “For the past 5 years we’ve had a government in Ottawa that has maintained power without a single representative in the country’s 3 largest metropolitan centres.”

    You seem to conflate metropolitan centres and municipalities, but either way the statement is factually incorrect. If you use metropolitan centres (GTA, Greater Montreal, and Greater Vancouver), the Conservatives do have representatives there (in the suburban parts like Vaughan). If you are referring to municipalities only, then Calgary is the third largest (the City of Vancouver is 8th) and the Conservatives do have representatives there.

    • As usual conservatives distort what is easy to understand. As I mentioned in my March 25 post no Con has been elected in Toronto. The second largest is Montreal and third would be Vancouver.
      No Conservatives(smile)

      The Harper Gov’t fell because it is Unethical and in Contempt of Parliament! Apparently Harpocrit is a liar.


    • Dear Alex S.,

      Yes, we here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke were a little uncertain of that phrasing since we were uncertain about the exact demographic definition of city, municipality, metropolitan. One site we encountered that put the Toronto population at 5 million+ seemed to be including Mississauga which, we’re fairly certain is not Conservative unfriendly. Where do you find the most helpful place for amassing that kind of information?

      Perhaps had we written this: “For the past 5 years we’ve had a government in Ottawa that has maintained power without a single representative in the downtown cores of the country’s 3 largest metropolitan centres.”? Or perhaps just safer to write: “For the past 5 years we’ve had a government in Ottawa that has maintained power with very little representation in the country’s 3 largest metropolitan centres.”

      Either way, thank you for the correction.

      • Dear Alex S,

        No, we are hardly Wikipedia snobs here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke. In fact, we probably looked closely at it when we were writing the article. I think that goes more to showing our shaky grasp of the notions of municipalities v. metropolitan. We shouldn’t have endeavoured to be that specific in our comment without being more knowledgeable.

        But hey. I’m sure that isn’t the first time such an accusation has been hurled our way.

        As for Sonny, he just comes and blasts away. We’re fairly certain the two of you would get along swimmingly if you were ever to meet in person.

        Just took the VoteCompass survey ourselves. Interesting, surprising results although framing of questions really felt confining and arbitrary. Bailed on a number of questions as we felt none of the options on offer were really how’d we answer.

      • I Understood that Cat meant the City of Toronto, Ville du Montreal & City of Vancouver. The point is that city folk are losing out representation to the sparely populated rural areas.

        This morning I debated with an indigenous man about the value of building a road in Tuktoyaktuk. Which he thinks is okay because he has relatives there and will create work. I said the money would be better spent in populated Toronto with 23 ridings…

  3. OK, this morning the Election campaign begins and some media machinations have taken the notion of a coalition off the table. The likely result is either a minority Con OR minority Lib Gov’t. So you might as well vote for what you believe be it New Democrat, Green OR another alternative because there is not that much different between the big two except for their attack ads!
    Here is something I read yesterday

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