It might not come as a surprise that our political parties are failing a report card based on integrity and keeping promises. Recently, Democracy Watch, a non-profit, non-partisan organization, released its latest Report Card on Ontario Parties’ Democratic Good Government Platforms. The Liberal Party and the NDP scored the highest among the political parties ranked with an “E” grade (worse than a D and better than an F) and both the Green Party and the Progressive Conservative Party scored an “I” for “incomplete.”
What should not come as a surprise to politicians is that the parties that scored high grades on the Good Government Report Card tend to win elections. In 2011 the federal Green Party scored the highest grade ever on the report card: A “B-” and they went on to elect their first MP. Similarly in 2006, the federal Conservatives scored the best on the report card and they won the election.
Duff Conacher, Founding Director of Democracy Watch realizes though that the good government report card won’t be enough to make governments more accountable. Conacher recommends that voters exercise their legal right to decline their ballot (which is not the same as simply not voting), as well as getting behind the honesty-in-politics law, which would penalize election candidates who mislead the public.
This multi-prong attack to make government more accountable is what has led to Democracy Watch’s past victories. According to their website, they have “won more than 110 changes to federal and provincial good government and corporate responsibility laws, many of which are world leading.”
Despite good evidence that voters reward integrity, politicians still aren’t getting the message, according to Conacher who says: “No one should be surprised if voter turnout drops to a new record low of about 45% because voting for a candidate is like recommending someone for a job, and given the lack of promises to clean up politics, most voters won’t feel motivated to recommend that any party form the next Ontario government.”