03 October 2008

May Nails Top Priority Issue: Electoral reform

[UPDATE: Thanks to information from a reader, more details are provided below.]

One month ago, I wrote that electoral reform was the most pressing issue facing Canada's voters.

"Not the environment. Not poverty. Not the healthcare system. Not crime, gangs, or violence against women. Not abortion. Not the war in Afghanistan or the US invasion of Iraq and their imminent attack on Iran. Not the sabre rattling between the US and Russia."

None of these issues will get addressed by ANY party or politician. Not in any substantive, meaningful way. Not unless something fundamental changes in our eroding democracy.

Therefore, the first order of business of any government should be the start of the process to replace our embarrassing, archaic, undemocratic first-past-the-post system with a form of proportional representation.

And which leader would do that?

Well, each of them were asked in last night's English language debate what they would do first should their party form the government.

Did any of them mention proportional representation or electoral reform in their answer?

Not the Conservatives, who do just fine on the present system.

Not the NDP. They talk the talk well enough - well, not always, as I challenged in a letter to a local paper and as we heard last night from Jack Layton. Nary a word fell from Layton's lips about proportional representation. Indeed, when the NDP had the opportunity to support changing our voting system to proportional representation back in 1980 they turned it down.

The Liberals wouldn't change our voting system either. Their 66-page platform mentions not a word about it. And Dion's response last night only confirmed that bringing democracy to our voting system isn't even on his radar. "Democracy" is all well and good when it comes to debate participants, but not so good when it comes to true voter choice, apparently.

There was only one leader who responded correctly to that first-order-of-business question.

It was Elizabeth May of the Green Party.

May promised to start down the road toward electoral reform and to shift the tax burden to polluters.

"As a woman and a single mom, I'm really good at multi-tasking, so there would be more than one thing," she quipped.

"We've got to put ourselves on a path of proportional representation, so that the will of the voters is expressed and the way people vote is reflected in the House of Commons."

Am looking for videos and a full transcript of the debate. Please write a comment below if you come across either and include the link to its source.

The question asked during the debate: "I'm a retiree building my shed in the backyard here and I have a question for all of you potential prime ministers. My question is if I should elect you prime minister, what's the very first thing you'll do when you get into office. And I don't want any bull feathers, baffled brains answer, I just want the real issue you're going to tackle."

Elizabeth May: "First I'd like to say I'd love to come help you finish the shed but as a woman and a single mom, I'm really good at multitasking so there will be more than one thing. First we have to fix the electoral system. We have to put ourselves on the path to proportional representation so we don't run the risk of false majorities such as a majority of the seats with the minority of support. We also need to move forward on the plan to deal with carbon and carbon emission, that makes the future more secure. It's top priorities for greens. Top priorities for 80% of Canadians who realize we have a moral obligation to the future to act."

My thanks to a reader for that additional info and for providing its CBC source.

More updates to come (I hope), which will include video clips.

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