Discussion on Election Results
A New Democratic Personality Emerges Despite Attempts to Preserve Old Arrangements
During the 2019 Federal Election Campaign a new democratic personality made itself felt in many ways as people came forward to speak in their own name about their concerns. Their concerns are also the concerns of society itself, which the parties that vie for election as part of the cartel party system do not address. One of the greatest concerns is how the electoral process itself blocks people from participating directly to set the agenda for the country and to elect governments that are known as fighters for that agenda. Instead, the electoral system is designed to bring parties to power to form party governments and the people are reduced to spectators. There were many instances where candidates of the cartel parties refused to participate in debates which people tried to organize so that they could hear what the candidates had to say about their concerns.
Debates are considered a central way for electors to become informed. However, election campaigns as promoted by the monopoly-controlled media and carried out by the cartel parties are focused on party leaders and they, as well as local candidates, are tightly controlled by campaign managers to keep on message and not interact with people in any other way except to discredit their opponents or present themselves in a good light — the concerns of the people be damned. Not a few candidates worry about getting into trouble if their remarks conflict with the “branding message” of their party. Government incumbents, in particular, do not want to have to answer questions about what their government has done. In other cases, participation is simply a matter of whether their campaigns consider there are votes to be won or not.
Across the country, debates organized by various bodies were cancelled because of lack of response from one or more candidates or leaders of the cartel parties. For example, the City of Mississauga could not get sufficient participation for a debate entitled “Mississauga Matters” scheduled for September 23 and simply cancelled it. The Munk Centre at the University of Toronto cancelled its October 1 Foreign Policy debate because Justin Trudeau declined to attend.
In many cases, however, organizers refused to cancel and used the occasion to discuss their concerns. This was the case when Studio.89, a non-profit fair-trade café and community hub in the riding of Mississauga East–Cooksville, invited candidates to participate in a Youth Town Hall on October 19. While all candidates were invited, only three accepted: the Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada National Leader and Mississauga East—Cooksville candidate Anna Di Carlo, the Mississauga—Streetsville candidate for the Animal Protection Party Natalie Spizziri, and Mississauga Centre Green Party candidate Hugo Reinoso.
Although the initial plan was to follow the traditional “candidates’ debate,” with prepared questions to be answered by the candidates, the youth chose to revamp their event. Candidates were given time for introductory remarks, but all the participants were encouraged to speak out about their experiences and present their views. The youth set out topics that they wanted to address, which included problems related to education and student debt, economic security, and the natural environment.
Each candidate made a contribution by elaborating how the problems present themselves. The discussion that ensued was characterized by everyone presenting their own thinking. For instance, on the subject of the environment and food sustainability, an informative exchange took place on theories which define the problem as one of population growth. Examples were given of how problems related to food and water scarcity could be solved if the profit-motive is not put in command at the expense of people. The participants gave their own experiences from various countries as to how people are blamed for problems that are created by the destructive forces of multinational corporations.
The issue of student debt and the burden it imposes on students led to an exchange focusing on the terrible pressure young people face when problems are turned into matters of individual weaknesses, such as “money management” or “debt management.” It was evident that systemic structural problems and the failure to recognize and guarantee rights such as education and health care must be addressed along with the destructive consequences as a result of the privatization of education and anti-social “austerity” measures.
The lively and substantive discussion contributed to the participants’ determination to step up their own political activities beyond the election. In a thank-you note to the MLPC, Studio.89’s Events and Program Coordinator wrote: “You’ve inspired us, and further motivated us in our efforts to have our voices heard. As a way to keep this momentum alive, we do hope to have more events of this nature happening in our space.”