10 September 2008

Democracy Doesn't End at Democratic Debates

Elizabeth May and the Green Party of Canada have inspired people from across Canada to think about fairness, both in terms of having democratic debates and also on a related issue.

Had it not been for our first past the post system, which deprived Greens of Members in Parliament in 2006, there would have been no debate about the debates.

However, the attempts by Jack Layton, Steven Harper and to some extent Gilles Duceppe, to exclude May from the debates have helped make HOW voters elect their representatives a possible emerging election issue.

After all, it was the threat to their election being a democratic one which galvanized Canadians into getting behind May.

The Greens should therefore take this opportunity to champion a key policy in their platform, that of democratic and electoral reform.

And if Layton's NDP would care to walk the talk for a change, so should they. However, that is unlikely given Layton's explanation for his reversal: that "debating the debates" had "become a distraction."

Layton changed his mind for the sake of political expediency, not because he believed himself to have been wrong.

Harper of course is a dead loss. Asked about proportional representation in an April 2006 interview with Peter Mansbridge, Harper replied: "It's probably not the preference of our caucus."

Clearly, his idea of electoral reform is to make fixed-date elections into law - and then break that law.

As for the Liberals, any expression of interest by them in reforming our electoral system should be taken dubiously.

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