Editorial note: The following is a submitted letter to the editor. The views and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of Kingstonist.
Regrettably, I must inform you that I am officially stepping down as PC Candidate for Kingston and the Islands. I do not make this decision lightly; on the contrary, it was made in the best interest of my family, the people of this riding and democracy as a whole.
Unfortunately, it has become clear to me that, as a representative of the people at the provincial or federal level, we do not truly get to be a voice for the people who elect us. Instead, we are expected, forced, and even coerced to follow our party’s narrative over that of the people.
I believe change is necessary to once again elevate the will of the people; and for that to happen more and more citizens, politicians and candidates need to stand up and demand change.
I have considered this matter in depth and have come to the conclusion that I cannot work within the current broken and inadequate party system. If walking away now creates a spark for change or helps to draw more attention to the failures of this system, then I have hope it can be changed for the better in the future.
With today’s technology, we have more tools than ever to allow for a healthier and more open democracy, and that can give voice to the will of its constituents. Unfortunately, we continue to exist in a system that was designed before phones, the internet and high-speed travel existed. To truly create change, a political party would have to willingly reduce their own power when elected in order to empower the people they represent. It seems unlikely that would happen without immense public pressure. However, I believe it is possible – we can bring change as Canadians by increasingly calling out the broken system and demanding better.
This is not a one-party issue, though – this is an all-party issue. It occurs in any party that is “whipped”; whether at the federal level where orders come from the Prime Minister’s Office or at the provincial level where orders come from the Premier’s Office. I truly believe we are, at best, a democracy only every four years or at election time. Under this current broken system, MPs and MPPs cannot truly represent the will of those who elected them for fear of reprisal, discipline or being ousted from their own parties.
I would like to thank my supporters; I truly appreciate all your encouragement, support and help since announcing my candidacy. I will continue to work to bring attention to the failings of our system in an effort to better it; however, I do not believe it can be done from within that very system.
I think we all need to ask ourselves what role we can perform to fix this broken system and start demanding a democracy that truly reflects the will of the electors and not the will of the party in power in that moment. Taking the recent federal election as a prime example, the percentages of votes do not reflect the seats gained by each party and voter turnout is decreasing. More and more voters are becoming increasingly disenfranchised with the current broken system.
Even simple changes can have a profound effect and be a solid first step in empowering the will of the people over the will of the party, such as free votes by MPs and MPPs and allowing them to vote based on the will of their constituents and not the will of the party.
So many of us recognize that the system is broken; when are we going to do something about it? Now is time to step up for change; and I intend to find a way to do that.
Ryan Boehme is a Kingston City Councillor currently representing Pittsburgh District, and the now former provincial candidate for the Ontario PC Party.