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Saturday, April 11, 2009

May is about to enlighten us on power, politics and the crisis in Canadian democracy

Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party, has written a book in which she laments the crisis she insists exists in Canadian democracy. Ms. May suggests that the first past the post system of electing representatives to our House of Commons—a tradition, she acknowledges, that goes back some 1,100 years—caused the House to end up “…not reflecting the will of the people as expressed through their votes.”

Of course Ms. May is, again, dead wrong. If not the will of the people, then just what does the House reflect. My will, and that of my family, is certainly expressed in the composition of the House—that’s democracy. The House is made up of members voted for directly by the people of Canada, not selected from some list of party hacks—does that then leave our democracy in crisis.

Of course not. The real crisis Ms. May laments is the lack of any political success of her party after more than a quarter of a century. So long have they wandered the political wilderness, they are well past their best-before date.

Ms. May’s book seems like a thinly disguised political hatchet-attack on the Conservative Party of Canada and its leader, Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Ms. May claims:

“Canadians are not particularly aware that the essence of our democracy is at risk. The essential elements of a functional democracy are a free and independent media, a well-informed and engaged electorate, and high levels of participation on voting day.”

Hyperbole and mumbo jumbo and wrong on all counts. What she really means is that the current system is not working for her and her party—it seems to work well enough for most other Canadians to the point that it is the envy of a substantial portion of the world.

What the Green Party needs is a real leader and a set of policies that resonate with a substantial proportion of the Canadian voters, and the quicker they set about doing that the better off they will be.

3 comments — This is a moderated blog and comments will appear when approved. Please don’t resubmit if your comment doesn’t appear immediately, and please do not post material that is obscene, harassing, defamatory, or otherwise objectionable.

  1. "a free and independent media, a well-informed and engaged electorate"
    The media is free, independent and generally left of center.If the media is not balanced because it leans left then the electorate will be mis informed rather than enformed.
    Is Ms May suggesting that the CBC should free itself from government largess in order to preserve their perception of impartiality

  2. We Canadians need some form of proportional representation, not for the sake of the Green Party but to give voters greater choice and have our MPs represent us better.

    Support BC-STV in the referendum this May 12.

  3. It's interesting that an individual who never held a party membership (because she was at the Sierra Club for 17 years) before 2006 is an "expert" in the problems of Canadian democratic system.

    You are absolutely right that the whole premise is that SHE didn't get elected therefore the system is broken.

    As a Green, I have been repeatedly telling other members that the "whining" about having some sort of PR is pointless. If the Greens are truly serious about getting PR in Canada, they need to get elected under the FPTP system first.