The Green Party sent its leader Elizabeth May to Ottawa, but did not give her enough seats for the Greens to have official party status. As a result, May sits as an independent and has only the rights and privileges accorded to other independent MPs.
On Monday, May rose in the House to make a few remarks about the late Czech president Vaclav Havel. Citizenship Minister Jason Kenney, NDP foreign affair critic Hélène Laverdière, and Liberal interim leader Bob Rae had already offered words of their own.
She had just begun, however, when Speaker Andrew Scheer asked (see video) if she had the unanimous consent of the House to speak (as per the rules), whereupon at least a pair of “no” answers could be heard on the Conservative side of the floor. Accordingly, May was not allowed to complete her remarks.
Elizabeth May and her supporters believe, of course, exceptions should may and special treatment should be extended to her because she’s the leader of a party. Many Canadians, however, believe that the current system works well and that one must earn official party status before one is treated as a party leader in the House of Commons.
The Reform party started as a small regional movement and, operating under the first-past-the-post electoral system, rose to become the official opposition and finally, as Conservatives, won three consecutive elections—all in less time than it took the Greens to elect a single member.
The rules work: new parties can begin from scratch, flourish and gain power within a couple of decades. The Green party started before the Reform party did, but has not captured wide support. Under May’s leadership, the Green Party of Canada’s share of the popular vote dropped below 4 per cent in the 2011 federal election—its lowest level in eleven years. So now they want to have the rules changed?
Elizabeth May has to sit as an independent MP, because of her own ineptitude as leader of her party. If there is blame to be levelled, let it be levelled at her.
Read more here at iPolitics.