Canada news roundup:
I actually read some of the Globe
today. What a pain in the ass. I am a big fan of text-based media, but not when the text rubs off on your fingertips. That's icky.
Anyway, today's roundup focusses on three topics: same-sex marriage, Kyoto, and provincial democracy
The same-sex marriage debate is heating up
in this country. Religious groups of various stripes are weighing in more forcefully, including the Catholics, Evangelicals and Sikhs. For their part, the Sikh Joginder (equivalent to the Catholic Pope) has taken advantage of PM PM's trip to India to denounce
Canada's position on gay marriage. Some of the responses from within the Canadian Sikh community are very reassuring, however. Some of them are speaking out against the Joginder's statements, both because their view of Sikhism differs, and because they recognize that minorities ought to support one another. Martin should do more leading on this issue. Nevertheless, his response to the Sikh leader's comments - clarifying the fact that the debate is about civil as opposed to religious marriage - is useful and should probably be given more play here in Canada. Meanwhile, our military is making moves to recognize same-sex military couples. How cool is that?
Speaking of the PM PM's, ahem
, leadership, Martin's response to the fact that we're not going to achieve our Kyoto goals
was (and I'm paraphrasing), "Oh well, other people aren't living up to their obligations, either."
The Kyoto Protocol comes into force on Feb. 16. Canada, which joined the agreement in 1997, voluntary [sic] accepted the most aggressive target, 6 per cent below the 1990 emissions level.
Finally, New Brunswick is the latest province to start thinking seriously about proportional representation (PR),
or at least partial proportional representation. The co-chairman of the province's Legislative Democracy commission explains
“Voter turnout is dropping, youth participation in the electoral process is low, trust and confidence in our democratic institutions have declined and many citizens believe they have insufficient voice in the decision-making process especially when major issues are involved[.]"
Personally, I have a fairly hard time believing that proportional representation, particularly at the provincial level, will do very much at all to help those particular problems. I've discussed some of my objections to PR before, and for the record, I still support Alternative Vote (AV)
if we're talking about changing the way we vote. However, if you want to get people more involved in government and voting, why not mandate some civics classes for high school students and then invest the necessary money to make that count for something? Why not sponsor some public debates? There are a number of ways to go. Don't get me wrong, I'd be the last to say that electoral design doesn't matter at all. I'm sure that it does. And I'm sure the press coverage of change in the system, and the hopes that such a change would engender, would help produce a spike in voter participation if the system were indeed changed. I just don't think it would really do much in the long run to combat Canadian voter apathy.