Democratic reform, including eliminating parties, a draw for Consensus Ontario
IT MIGHT SEEM STRANGE
to join a political party that intends to render all political parties obsolete, but that is close to what Dan Holt is attempting in this June’s provincial election. Elmira residents will recognize Holt for his bid for Ward 1 councillor in the last municipal election.
Holt has now set his sights on Queen’s Park, lending his support to new and relatively obscure Consensus Ontario party. Holt does not expect to win on the Consensus ticket, but he is keen to champion the reforms and philosophy at the core of the party.
“I like the idea of consensus, I like the idea of democracy and representative government, I like the idea of not being tied to a party boss who’s going to tell you what to do,” he explained.
At the centre of the party’s ideology is the belief that locally elected representatives should not be bound to the directives of a political party or leader, as is somewhat the case for most of the major parties.
As it stands, most MPP’s have to vote the way their party requires them to vote on key issues, rather than follow the wishes of their constituents, and those that don’t can be penalized in various ways by their leader. It’s a system that often forces elected representatives to carry water for their leaders even when it goes against the demands of local voters.
“It’s interesting, you know, I mean you have to be a party to be elected. And the whole purpose of Consensus Ontario is to eventually eliminate parties, including Consensus Ontario,” says Holt. “The idea being that the candidate would be independent and elected as representatives of their constituency and their riding, and not beholden to a party or policies governing a party.”
In that way, the elected members of the legislature would better resemble their counterparts on the municipal level in that they would not belong to any party. It’s one of the reasons he says the party reached out to him to run in the Kitchener-Conestoga riding under their banner.
While Holt is not expecting the idea to take off all at once, he is still keen for voters to come out and support him in the election.
“Well I’d like for them to vote for me, because I’d like for the statement to be made that they’ve seen what Consensus Ontario is all about and they’re interested and support the idea. So I do want them to vote for me and I hope I get some votes, but realistically speaking at this point the way the parties are so entrenched it’s very difficult to break through that barrier and get people to the point where they will vote for someone other than the party.”
On his future plans, whether Holt intends to stay with Consensus or run for Woolwich Township council, Holt is unsure.
“I just don’t know,” he says. “I mean, yes I think the idea [behind Consensus Ontario] is good and I support the idea, and I would want to see them grow and come to fruition. But I don’t know how much I’m going to be involved because I don’t know what’s going on in my personal life three or four years from now.”