The Vote: Who

Leaders have parties so they can represent
Rahman Mohamed

It’s known: if you’re 18 or older on election day, a Canadian citizen, and a registered voter you can vote in federal elections and referendums, voting that takes place across Canada.  In provincial elections the voter is also a resident of the province; only people who lives in Ontario, is 18 or older on election day and a Canadian citizen will be able to vote in the upcoming June 2018 provincial election.  Upcoming municipal elections in October 2018 in Ontario also have the residency requirement; you can only vote for politicians in the city if you live in the city.  The question for many and a confusion: who are you voting for?

Government has two branches: executive and legislative.  The Executive branch of government is the branch that runs the province – decides where hospitals will be built, how much support students will get when they’re completing post-secondary education, where marijuana can be sold – decisions about the current policies in place.

The Legislative branch is responsible for making the laws and policies.  Legislative creates the laws for how much marijuana someone can legally be in a person’s system before being thrown in jail, whether or not a Carbon Tax exists, the creation or removal of holidays – anything that changes or creates laws.  In some systems the Legislative and Executive branches of government are separate; Canadian democracy uses a parliamentary system: provincial and federal system; the two are intertwined.

Many voters are often confused.  Canadian voters choose the representative in their area/riding, the MLA, MPP, MP, or MNA depending on the election.  The Premier and Prime Minister are first a representative; the leader needs to be elected by the voters in their riding before they can lead the province or country.

Many nations today including UK, USA, and Canada have political parties.  A political party is a group of people who agree to fundamentals that will shape laws and policies and give a financial contribution.  Members of a political party – people who say they support the fundamentals and give money – work together.  Together they have more money and supporters – print mass number leaflets, get cheaper signs, pay for TV, radio, online and print ads, and convince voters using word of mouth.  Although there are often independent candidates, someone who wants to be a representative and not associated with a party, the independent candidate has fewer resources to advertise.

After being elected a member of a political party is expected to vote with the political party, vote for or against a bill that will make a law the same way as other members of the party.  Unless it is termed a “Free Vote” a representative cannot vote how the representative wants to or believes persons in the constituency would want the vote.

Based on the party system Canadian provincial and federal governments are a majority or minority after an election.  A majority government is when a single party holds 50% + 1 seats; a minority government is when no party has the 50% + 1 but two or more parties agree to a coalition (agree to work together) and together have 50% + 1 seats.  A majority government is considered stable – one party controls; a minority is considered unstable because coalitions and agreements can change.  If coalitions change the government will change or there will be another vote – campaigning starts again and there is another election.

In the Canadian system the Legislative and Executive branches of government are formed by the party or parties that have 50% + 1.  Unless not elected by constituents – voters in the constituency where the politician is running, the Prime Minister/Premier (leader of the executive branch) is the leader of a party.  In a majority government all the executive leaders are part of the same party – Finance Minister, Education Minister, Environment Minister, Health Minister (person responsible for decisions in a specific area).  In a minority government, when parties work together, not all ministers are part of the same party.  Although the Executives are not required to be part of the majority party, it’s brought by party loyalty (saying you agree with the party so you have the party’s support and access to resources in the next election).

In a majority the Legislative government is controlled by a single party.  In turn, unless there is a free vote, bills they propose are made laws because the entire party (50% + 1) supports it.  The members of the Executive side (Ministers) are also part of the Legislative side.

Provincial and federal elections can become complicated – liking a leader, not liking your local candidate, mixed feelings about the party or a different combination.  Polls prior to the election often evaluate the support people have of a party and/or the leader.  Political analysts also look at the support in the constituencies – who/which party is expected to be elected to determine if there will be a majority or minority government.

Unlike the provincial and federal system that uses a combined legislative-executive government municipal governments (towns and regions) are voted in a mixed manner.  There are loyalties (strong friendships between politicians and strong support) but political parties are not common in the municipal system.  The mayor, leader of the executive government, is voted in separately; the Mayor doesn’t have a riding; everyone in the city has a voice of who will be mayor.  Councillors, the legislative government are voted in separately.  They have a riding and are voted in based on the votes of that riding.  The Mayor of the city does have a say in the Legislative process and members of the Executive are chosen from Councillors voted in.  They often work for persons in their riding (the people that voted them in, who they represent) and with their supporters (those they have a close relation/are loyal).

What influences each voter is different but elections rely on the vote.

Come back to Nova’s Rays and learn more about ballots.


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