Were political parties able to evaluate the participation and accessibility of citizens, I'm willing to venture that Canadians wouldn't perform particularly well. In fact, I'm willing to wager that citizens are similarly failing political parties.
Knowing people on the inside of the top three parties, I can tell you this isn't an unusual sentiment.
There's a definite feeling of being at the front lines of democracy, the line between Canadian Values and the barbarians at the gate (or in government). Partisans both paid and wanting to be paid work hard, they take public beatings and do the sausage making that no one wants to know about, though they eat the sausage heartily.
Here's the thing - partisan politics is convention, not law. Canadians don't elect Parties, they elect Parliamentarians. Not the name on the ballot? See a separate section for Party of Choice? Exactly.
Parliamentarians hold government to account. Government is the crown - Ministers don't even have to be elected. The way the system functions now, it's like the over-eager volunteer is acting like the boss and getting mad that their contributions aren't being recognized or appreciated, when in fact they're working against the system.
And not a few Canadians - including partisans - think that Party politics is eroding our democracy as it is designed by law to function.
This doesn't mean there can't be an on-paper place for political parties in Canada; lots of systems have been proposed and exist in other jurisdictions.
But the reason typical Canadians aren't hard-core partisans first isn't because they're too afraid to pick a side - it's because they see themselves as Canadian and don't recognize that there are sides. Ideas, yes, ideologies, yes, but the partisan tribe thing is insider-baseball.
Which is why now is the perfect time for Open Government and Open Data. It's a movement that is non-partisan, solution-focused and goes out of its way to be responsible and representative instead of strategic and confrontational.
Canada's already a party - it's the partisans who are hiding in the bathroom the bathroom.
It's not every-day Canadians who need to be convinced to support Political Parties; it's partisans that need to be reminded what public service is really about.
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