Today is an important day for Canadian democracy, though my guess is most people in Canada are unaware of it. Not surprising given the usual level of political awareness and engagement.
In a presidential system the leader of the country is elected directly by the people. In the Westminster parliamentary tradition the Prime Minister is the leader of the government party. He or she usually represents a particular constituency as Member of Parliament, but only the residents of that riding see his/her name on the ballot.
Party leaders though are elected directly by party members. Surprisingly, only a small number of Canadians belong to any political party – less than half a million of us.
That has always surprised me. Volunteering for a political party is a great way to ensure that politicians are at least aware of, if not dealing with, issues that are close to your heart.
Volunteers get to mingle with candidates and build relationships. And politics is in many ways more about relationships than policies. I’ve seen some great proposals shelved because the person behind them was out of favor with party leadership.
Which is why I think it important to remind you that today is the membership cutoff day for those who will be choosing the next leader of the Conservative Party of Canada. Join tomorrow and you miss your chance.
Canadian politics is pretty predictable. In more than 150 years only two parties have formed government (though sometimes they change their names). Therefore, those joining the Liberal or Conservative parties and helping choose its leader have a good chance of direct input on who will be the next Prime Minister.
Closer to the voting date, I expect I will have more to say about the Conservative campaign and candidates. There are four left after a couple of elimination rounds designed to prevent a repeat of 2017, which saw 14 candidates and 13 rounds of balloting before a winner was chosen.
The process has had its questionable moments, as have some of the prospective leaders. It is definitely going to be an interesting choice. And with no professional sports at the moment, politics may be the most entertaining game there is at the moment.
You have to be a citizen to join a Canadian political party, sorry about that. But anyone can watch the process – it can be very entertaining. You can find out more at www.conservative.ca.
If you aren’t Canadian, I encourage you to get politically involved wherever you are. Americans have an election this year, which has taken a back burner to the pandemic, but the candidates I am sure are all looking for help.
The same hold true for other countries. If you get politically involved you have a better chance of getting the government you want. That alone should make volunteering worth it.