Posts Tagged ‘Green Party’

October 8, 2013 - Green Party leader Elizabeth May, speaking at the Speak Up For Democracy Town Hall Meeting in Winnipeg. Photo: Paul S. Graham

October 8, 2013 – Green Party leader Elizabeth May, speaking at the Speak Up For Democracy Town Hall Meeting in Winnipeg. Photo: Paul S. Graham

Canadian democracy ain’t what it used to be and what it used to be was far from ideal. Still, fewer of us are voting and even fewer are satisfied with the outcome.

Over the past 20 years, voter turnout has declined precipitously. Of the 24.2 million citizens eligible to vote in the 2011 federal election, only 14.8 million, or 61.1 per cent did so. Of those who voted, 39.6 per cent, or 5.8 million voters chose a Conservative candidate. In other words, the government of Canada was elected by fewer than 25 per cent of eligible voters. 9.4 million Canadians chose not to vote for anyone; this is nearly twice as many as those who elected the governing party.

Among those of us who have chosen to vote, there is widespread dissatisfaction with the way this is represented in the House of Commons. The following table shows the distribution of seats following the 2011 federal election.

Party

Elected

% of Seats

% of Vote

Conservative

167

54.2

39.6

NDP

102

33.1

30.6

Liberal

34

11

18.9

BQ

4

1.3

6

Green

1

0.3

3.9

Source: http://www.sfu.ca/~aheard/elections/results.html. (Note, percentages to not add up to 100, probably because of some rounding in the original data. But you get the idea.)

The top two parties clearly have more MPs than their share of the popular vote would justify. It looks like this.

Now, look what happens when MPs are elected in proportion to their party’s share of the popular vote.

Party

FPTP

PR

Conservative

167

122

NDP

102

95

Liberal

34

59

BQ

4

19

Green

1

13

(Note: the above chart needed some rounding to make it work – but it’s close enough.) It would look like this.

Would adoption of a proportional representation system increase voter turnouts in elections? It might. Those who are convinced that their vote does not count might be encouraged to participate in a process that offered a more representative outcome.

However, all the electoral system reforms in the world will be fruitless unless the governments we elect learn to behave in a more democratic fashion.

A common refrain among voters is that once elected, Members of Parliament become invisible, until the next election, anyway. Stories of MPs frustrated by the their lack of freedom to speak their minds are growing, as are the complaints of reporters who are frustrated with the federal government’s record of providing information that should be made public in a timely way. Government scientists are prevented from discussing their publicly funded research. Organizations that evaluate government policies lose their funding. Critics of government policy find themselves described as dangerous radicals and citizens concerned about fracking are placed under surveillance. Shutting down Parliament to avoid controversy and using omnibus budget bills to to limit Parliamentary examination of legislation can be added to the list.

While our current federal government is notorious for its antidemocratic practices, governments at all levels have fostered a system that insulates them from addressing the concerns of citizens. This growing trend to undemocratic governance in a country that regards itself as a democracy inspired the town hall meeting that took place in Winnipeg Oct. 8, 2013.

Sponsored by Peace Alliance Winnipeg and the Green Party of Canada, “Speak Up for Democracy” featured Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party and MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands, Dennis Lewycky, executive director of the Social Planning Council of Winnipeg, and Leah Gazan, a leading activist in Idle No More.

More that 200 people packed the Broadway Disciples United Church to hear from them and to discuss with them what must be done to rescue our democracy.

I’ve been to a lot of meetings over the years; this clearly was one of the best. So grab some pop corn, turn off your smart phone and invest the next two hours in pondering one of the most pressing issues of our generation.

Links:
Elizabeth May, MP
Green Party of Canada
Social Planning Council of Winnipeg
Idle No More Manitoba


About these ads

When asked if her party would support a moratorium on transporting radioactive nuclear fuel waste through Manitoba, Progressive Conservative candidate Heather Stephanson equivocated, saying she would not answer a “hypothetical question.”

By contrast, Green Party Leader James Beddome answered with a thunderous denunciation of allowing nuclear waste on Manitoba soil and declared the possibility of a Conservative government being elected Oct. 4 to be “hypothetical.”

Judging from the applause for Beddome and the lack of it for Stephanson, it was clear where the audience stood on this issue.

This is not a hypothetical issue. A movement has sprung up in Saskatchewan to prevent the establishment of a nuclear waste dump.  A respected aboriginal elder, Emil Bell, is on a hunger strike against storing nuclear waste in Saskatchewan.

Kudos to Beddome for clearly stating his party’s anti-nuke position.

You can see the whole debate at here.

Manitoba citizens will elect a new provincial government Oct. 4, 2011 and environmental issues will play an important role in determining which political party forms that government.

Where should Manitoba Hydro construct its planned Bipole 3 transmission line – or should it be built at all?

How should we save Lake Winnipeg from choking to death on toxic algae?

How best can Manitobans respond to rising energy costs and climate change?

These are only some of the issues that representatives of four political parties debated in this two-and-a-half hour public forum held Sept. 14., 2011 in Winnipeg. Naturally, I brought my video camera.


Moderator: Terry MacLeod, CBC Information Radio

Panelists:
- James Beddome, Green Party of Manitoba
- Paul Hesse: Liberal Party of Manitoba
- Jennifer Howard: New Democratic Party of Manitoba
- Heather Stephanson: Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba

Sponsors:
- Manitoba Eco-Network
- Green Action Centre
- Provincial Council of Women of Manitoba
- Green Action Committee of the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Winnipeg