Towards genuine democracy

maylosingconfElizabeth May is publishing a book to explain proportional representation to Canada, timed in the hope that it might help British Columbia this spring become the first large province to replace our traditional style of election with genuine democracy. Leading Canadian publisher McClelland & Stewart announced the April, 2009 release of Elizabeth May’s challenging new book, Losing Confidence: Power, Politics and the Crisis in Canadian Democracy.

When a modern student of political science plans to draw a map of Canada, she wants to have five crayons in her pencil case: green, orange, red, blue and bloc.

Until recently, the red, blue and bloc would never support proportional representation. The bloc elects more politicians per vote than any other party under our present system. The red and blue have always hoped to win a “majority government”, more likely when our “first past the post” system distorts the electoral process.

Indeed, the best thing about our old system used to be that one colour of crayon was more likely to win big, for otherwise it discouraged government by consensus and made coalition government awkward.

Today, we who hope that Canada might be governed well expect that power must be shared, so our electoral process should anticipate coalition building and encourage rule by consensus.

Elizabeth’s timing could not be better.

There is more good news.

During the televised leaders’ debate of the last election, Elizabeth addressed the Prime Minister about the ill effects of his less-than-green policies. She spoke in the way that a mother would speak to a wayward son who was part of a public disgrace.

In that moment when she spoke plain truth to power, many of us saw Elizabeth as our conscience. Now our conscience reminds us why we have to change how we choose prime ministers.

Unfortunately, many Canadians have a profound fear of any irreversible change toward that which is strange and untried.

We were all weaned on the belief that our democracy makes Canada great. Naturally we are reluctant to reform it.

The truth is this: any electoral system that delivers a form of government where the political representation is largely proportional to the vote will give us what we always thought we had. Our present system is the pretender that bears false witness. Proportional representation will allow us democratically to govern ourselves as well as we always thought we did!

Anyone who trots out Israel or Italy to argue for the status quo is uninformed. The science behind proportional representation leaves no wiggle room.

We need money to sell truth to the credulous majority, those among us who believe faithfully but wrongly that how we vote now is good enough.

We want to engage Canada with two referenda: the first referendum is to decide that we will replace our traditional process with something more proportional, the second will decide what to replace it with.

Tax law allows political parties to give Canadians a generous rebate in return for monetary support.

The Green Party can channel your money into the reform of the House of Commons. Support conscience. Vote for genuine democracy with true green. The time is now.

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