I follow public opinion polls attentively despite having my doubts about their methods. Between elections, polling and fundraising data proxy for the will of the people. There's a better way to quantify Canadian partisan support. My fifth Advent Policy Brief suggests that Elections Canada should manage the administration of membership for all registered political parties and display a real-time dashboard of membership numbers.
It's fair to say most members of mainstream political parties are tacit participants. They're the kind of person who likes being in the know and having a say in Leadership contests. They probably have a staunch party advocate in their social circle. Unless a member implicates themselves in the governance of their party, belonging to a political party is quite drab.
Membership gets you a shit-tonne of email and an occasional phone call, almost all of which is asking you for your time or your money. If you never reply to any of those emails, like the most party members, party membership is a donation and a pat on your own back for "getting involved".
Elections Canada hasn't caught up to the tech sitting in the pockets of most Canadians. Digital participation in democracy demands tools that deliver accurate quantitative data within the attention span of the Internet.
Elections Canada ought to administer all party memberships and operate a real-time membership dashboard. Joining or leaving a political party should be powerful, measurable statements that Canadians can make from the convenience of their devices.
I'm genuinely curious about membership numbers. Like how many people are in the far right parties? And what about the good folks in the Animal Protection Party?
It would have been fascinating to see a real-time reporting of membership in the Green Party during Annamie Paul's free fall. More recently, I'd be interested to know if BC's New Democratic Premier John Horgan's invasion of sovereign Wet'suwet'en territory has bled support away from Jagmeet Singh's federal NDP.
A membership numbers dashboard symbolically hands a little power back to the citizen. There are few mechanisms that hold a party's executive apparatuses accountable to the greater membership. The reporting would convey how a party's base perceives the party's direction. Grassroots party members are taken for granted because the cancellation of a membership is inconsequential.
There's also valuable data in the total number of Canadians who are members of political parties and their geographic distribution. I'm of the opinion that party membership is a public good when membership is an informed values-based free association.
Choosing to become a member of a political party should be an act of hope and principle, not an act of expedience. Real-time reporting would make party membership count.