My faith in democracy is being challenged

The good news is I’ve discovered that the Canadian government has a very good web interface for tracking recent votes in parliament.  Seriously, go check it out here, see how your MP has been voting recently.

The bad news is it gives a clear demonstration that our politician vote purely along party lines.

Take vote 631, for example.  Every single Conservative voted to close down the Experimental Lakes Facility.  Every single Liberal, NDP and BQ member voted to keep it open.

We could read these results in two ways.  Perhaps, by a strange coincidence, every single Conservative member reflected on the views of his or her constituents, the value of performing fundamental ecological research, and the role that basic research should play in evidence based policy making, and came to the eventual conclusion that it was not in Canada’s best interests to keep the facility open.

That would be, I grant you, a rather strange coincidence.  But the alternative explanation is that none of our representatives paid careful attention to this issue, and all simply voted the way their parties told them to.

I’m a firm believer in representative democracy, but that word representative is important.  Are we to believe that the residents of every single Conservative riding are against publicly funded research, and the residents of every single NDP, Green and Liberal riding are in favour of it?  Or are our politicians paying more attention to their party whips than their constituents?

If they are, we have no one to blame but ourselves.  Democracy works when people make their voices heard.  We need to be paying more attention to how our MPs are voting; congratulate them when they get it right, and reprimand them when they get it wrong.  They are, after all, working on our behalf.

And at least thanks to the internet we can easily watch their activities now.