Saturday, December 03, 2005

Support Canadian Democracy

I'd like to take a moment to be completely non-partisan. Regardless of who you're voting for, I encourage everyone to sign this petition protesting the exclusion, once again, of the Green Party from the leaders' debates. It doesn't matter if you're voting for them or not, the Greens are a viable political party, despite what some elitists might say. They run candidates in every riding across Canada, they received the support of well over half a million Canadians in the 2004 election, and qualify for federal funding.

This blatant abuse of democracy by the media corporations should not be tolerated by citizens of this country. The media should not be allowed to silence a voice - the media is supposed to make voices heard! - representing approximately five percent of Canadians, and potentially many, many more if they were allowed to debate. Ross Perot's participation and performance in the presidential debates in the United States increased his vote count, and even though no one realistically expected him to win, he was allowed to participate anyway.

The NDP in the 1993 election only received 6.88% of the vote, and yet Audrey McLaughlin was still allowed to participate in the debate. The Greens polled only a couple of points below that, and in some polls are as high as 8%. Preston Manning was allowed to participate, despite fighting to stay in double-digits in the polls - and look what he was able to do with that performance. Lucien Bouchard, representing an ad-hoc rainbow coalition in parliament, was allowed to participate. Both Bouchard and Gilles Duceppe have been allowed to participate - and they're separatists! Surely if we can allow separatists who only run candidates in one province to participate we can allow a federalist party with support across the country? Surely if the leaders of fourth and fifth parties could participate in the past, we can allow it again this time?

On this one issue we should all put aside our political differences. Liberal, Tory, NDP, Bloc, it shouldn't matter. It is an offence to us as citizens to have this voice censored. They are saying we're not allowed to hear the Green Party's message. There's something profoundly undemocratic about that.


At 12/03/2005 1:40 p.m., Blogger HisHighness said...

Is there a petition that I can sign that supports their exclusion? I wholeheartedly think the Greens, or any other party for that matter, should not be included until they at the very least win a seat in the House. I'm one of those people who thinks it really shouldn't be that easy for any fringe party to get in to the debates.

Now personally I think the threshold should be obtaining Official party status at least once, but at least make it 1 seat. I also don't like this idiocy of elections Canada giving them money to campaign, but that's a whole other kettle of fish.

I would agree that a clear threshold needs to be made so that there is never confusion or protest over this again.

At 12/03/2005 1:46 p.m., Blogger Clear Grit said...

The Greens are not a fringe party. A party with that much support is hardly a "fringe" party.

At 12/03/2005 1:52 p.m., Blogger HisHighness said...

Oh, I'm sorry, how much support do they have in the house again?


At 12/03/2005 2:11 p.m., Blogger Clear Grit said...

The only reason they have no support in the House is because of our antiquated electoral system, which says that a party with 5% support should have no seats, but a party with 37% support should have over 50% of the seats.

At 12/03/2005 2:22 p.m., Blogger HisHighness said...

If you oppose that then you would also oppose Proportional Represenation without changing the way Parliament votes.

PR breeds Minorities, and in cases like that we'll have a party with even less support weilding even more power. (I.E. the NDP in this last parliament)

Imagine if, under PR, the liberals got 154 seats and the Greens 1 then that party who got one bloody seat would be in a position to hold the government at ransom.

So I'll support PR when they come up with a system that truly gives parties the amount of influence they were voted, I.E. if you get 5% of the vote you can't have the possibility of weilding %50 of the power.

At 12/03/2005 2:42 p.m., Blogger Clear Grit said...

Your characterization is flawed. You view negotiations between parties as "holding the government hostage", when it's just simply democracy. Under our current system, results are skewed even worse. The Bloc Quebecois, even though they only receive less than 15% of the vote, are poised to once again play spoiler in the next House of Commons, as the NDP will likely not have enough seats to prop up the Liberals OR the Conservatives. So, once again regionalism will be favoured over nationalism, and fairness will be denied.

In this past parliament, the Liberals and NDP should have had no problem having a working coalition, given that they together had well over 50% of the vote. Under PR, the true will of Canadians would have been respected - the Liberals would have formed government, as they received the most votes, but the NDP would have gotten some concessions out of them (which they did), representing a compromise position reflecting the voting choices of a majority of Canadians. Instead, what we got was a belligerant opposition and a separatist bloc working hand-in-hand to obstruct and topple parliament - and with only 42% of the popular vote between them! Just think, if Cadman hadn't been turfed by the Tories, we would have had the government fall, the budget not pass, same-sex marriage die on the order paper, because of the will of two parties who between them didn't even come close to garnering a majority of the vote. So the unfair skew of our current system works both ways. The people CLEARLY voted for a Liberal-NDP coalition - as they likely will again - and what they got was a Tory-Bloc obstructionist coalition, which will likely happen again.

I would remind you that it was THIS system which allowed Chuck Cadman to hold 100% of the power last spring. That simply couldn't happen under PR, since it would be impossible for a party to win merely one seat - most sane PR systems have some sort of cap to prevent the problems of Weimar Germany from reoccurring.

At 12/03/2005 2:53 p.m., Blogger HisHighness said...

I'm not advocating FPTP, I know it's flawed like everyone else doed. But I DO NOT want to change the status quo until my concerns are addressed as well! Why is it that my concerns aren't as valid as those who blindly support PR without looking to see what consequences it may have.

You say "the Liberals and NDP should have had no problem having a working coalition" And that's all well and good and if PR had been in and Layton had agreed that would have been great. But if nothing else, if I can convince you of nothing else, please please please realize that under both systems the "potential" for the hijacking of the government by the party with much less support was there. Whether you think it could ever happen or not the potential is there

That is the concern I have. I would like to see, on top of the way we vote changing, the way the house works change as well. I want safeguards so that a party with 5% of the vote doesn't have the potential to wield 50% of the power.

My brother got all the math brain cells in my family, I got all the science so I'm not suited to be the one to figure out a system that would accomplish this. Perhaps some sort of weighted voting system in the house, I'm not sure. But until my concerns which I asure you are just as valid as yours or anyone else's are met I'll stick with the Devil I know.

At 12/03/2005 3:09 p.m., Blogger Clear Grit said...

It's not that your concerns aren't valid, it's that they're not substantive. The concerns you're talking about just don't happen in countries which employ PR. The best example opponents of PR can ever come up with is Israel, as they say it's "unstable" - completely ignoring the fact that this instability could have something to do with Israel's status as a warzone. For our part, advocates of PR don't "blindly" follow it; we have looked at countries which use it and seen that the concerns people have about it are not supported in practice. Countries with PR which resemble Canada - Europe and Japan - have stable government, and the parties understand that they're not in parliament to obstruct or hijack, they're there to get their agenda implemented, and the best way to do that is to compromise, not throw temper tantrums and bring down the government every few months.

The potential for hijacking the government exists in both systems, yes, but I must say that the potential is much greater in this system, for it allows one party - one party on its own - with less than 40% of the popular vote to hijack the government by BECOMING it, with absolutely no effective or meaningful opposition. Am I in favour of majority governments? Sure - if a majority of Canadians vote for a single party (which Mulroney got, as did Gordon Campbell in BC). But if we're going to talk about "hijacking", keep in mind that in our current system, government is ROUTINELY hijacked by parties which do NOT represent a majority of Canadians, parties that a vast majority - sometimes 2/3 - of Canadians did NOT vote for. And, more than anything else, it's regionalism which allows this to happen - and we've all seen what poison regionalism is in a country like Canada.

At 12/03/2005 3:18 p.m., Blogger HisHighness said...

And, as I said I feel FPTP isn't good. But I don't care if parties "usually don't" or even "mostly don't" use the oppurtunity to try to hijack the government. What I care about is "is the possibility there"

That is my main concern, and nothing anyone can say, no amount of history, no amount of citing case facts in outher countries can eliminate that concern.

That is why I would be more than happy to support PR, if safeguards were placed in so that it "could not" happen. not just wishful thinking that "It probably won't" happen.

At 12/03/2005 3:52 p.m., Blogger Clear Grit said...

So what you're saying is, "I don't care about the facts." Incidentally, that's what the creationists say, and the ones who say global warming is a myth. It's not a liberal-minded thing to say. Facts are facts - ignoring them does not change them.

The fact is, it is IMPOSSIBLE to have a political system where it is not possible for one group or another to hijack it. What we should strive for is a system where this is difficult to do, and the best way to do that is by making Canadians' votes actually mean something. If Canadians vote for a Liberal government and give the NDP about 20% of the seats - which they would easily receive if people didn't have to vote strategically - then that's what Canadians want. If they vote for a situation where the Liberals and Conservatives have to form government together, then again, that's what they wanted. This is about giving Canadians what they vote for - no more, no less.

Like I said before, if you were really worried about hijacking, you would find our system abhorrent, because it is currently possible for a group which 2/3 of Canadians vote AGAINST to hold 100% of the power - and this happens as a matter of course; that's not the exception, it's the rule!

Imagine this - a cabal of Conservatives manage to win a slim minority with less than 40% of the vote, and revoke gay marriage, criminalize abortion - because they can - and completely privatize the healthcare system. Under our current system, it could happen. Personally, I consider that to be a far greater threat than - heavens no - the Green party being at the negotiating table. That's REAL hijacking. Hijacking does not mean compromising - hijacking means taking control in an undemocratic way, which is what our current system allows and demands.


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