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The Peace Tower and a Canadian flag are seen on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, April 27, 2011. (Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
The Peace Tower and a Canadian flag are seen on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, April 27, 2011. (Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Have your say: How do we restore (some) public faith in politics? Add to ...

Craig and Marc Kielburger founded Free The Children and Me to We. Their biweekly Brain Storm column taps experts and readers for solutions to social issues.

If there were more rock ‘n’ roll, at least Canadian politics would be entertaining. But the drugs, corruption and bitter negativity that have plagued every level of government this spring is just turning people off.

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Torontonians and Montrealers are supposed to be debating whose hockey team is better, not whose mayor is worse.

And the Senate expenses scandal, court battles between MPs and Elections Canada, and wave after wave of attack ads have turned our Parliament buildings into a partisan big-top without the popcorn.

The majority of our elected representatives are certainly continuing to work earnestly and diligently on policy initiatives for the greater good of our country, but doesn’t that sound boring? It’s far more exciting to read news of shady cheques, petty arguments and bad behaviour – so that’s what the media covers, and how the parties focus their messaging.

It’s a vicious cycle that deepens Canadians’ cynicism about politicians and, more troubling, about government in general. Although it may be hard to remember, politics and government have a positive role to play in making our lives better, from transnational railroads to healthcare.

So how do we save our democracy from becoming just another reality-television show?

This week’s question: What changes to Canada's political scene would give you more faith in politics and government?

The experts

David Coletto, CEO, Abacus Data

“How about a dose of authenticity? People are turned off from politics because our politicians seem so fake and far removed from our day-to-day lives, but some successful politicians – Ralph Klein, Naheed Nenshi and Kathleen Wynne – seem genuine and people recognize that. Not only will authentic politics restore faith in government, but authentic politicians will be more popular and will win elections.”

Tyler Sommers, co-ordinator, Democracy Watch

“Canadians want strong laws and strong enforcement systems, requiring everyone in politics and government to be honest, open, ethical, representative and waste-preventing, with high penalties for violators. Only when politicians make these changes will Canadians have reason to have more faith.”

Doug McArthur, professor of public policy, Simon Fraser University

“There is a dire need for people to see that mistakes can be admitted and corrections made in response to public sentiment, and for leaders to be less defensive and more open to public demands.”

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