What I Would Change About Politics in Canada

On Tuesday, June 25th, 2013 in Articles by Elizabeth
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Democracy is, as Winston Churchill once quipped, the worst system of government, except all the others that have been tried.

He also, less famously said, “The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter,” but I don’t think the average voter is our problem in Canada. And I do think we’ve got a problem.

The symptoms of the problem are easy to spot — low voter turnout, with worryingly low levels among young people with no sign they will start voting once they are over 30, a less than vital Fourth Estate, undermined by an alarming level of concentration of media ownership in very few hands, public apathy, indifference bordering on antipathy toward the whole process, excessive power in the hands of the few (or the one, since I refer to PMO), a loss of respect for the fundamental principle of the supremacy of Parliament, misuse of the talents of Members of Parliament of the large parties as MPs are expected to toe the party line on every issue, big and small, and its flip-side, excessive control by the un-elected top party brass in all three main parties.

Add to this, that the average voter in Canada — if anyone can be called “average” — is incensed by the goings on related to the excessive claims of certain Senators and the outrageous accommodation for Senator Duffy by the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff cutting him a cheque for $90,000 so he could make it seem he had personally paid back what he took through inappropriate means. The fact of a $90,000 cheque from the Prime Minister’s top ranking staff member and closest confidante remains just simply stunning. It was, on its face, illegal. It makes no sense and no sensible explanation has been offered.

So, what could we change to restore the kind of healthy democracy that would re-engage voters, stop the growth in public cynicism and give Canadians a system — and individual politicians –they could believe in?

Here’s a short prescription for what ails our democracy:

    1. Get rid of “first past the post” and elect MPs, as is done in most modern democracies, by some form of proportional representation. Make sure every vote counts so voters feel the impact of their vote. Thanks to first past the post, in 2011, a minority of voters elected a majority government. Such “false majorities,” as University of Toronto Prof. Emeritus Peter Russell has dubbed them, have occurred for Liberals as well as Progressive Conservative and now Conservative governments. Such results are only possible due to First past the post.
    2. Reduce the powers of the Prime Minister’s Office — regardless of who is the occupant. It is an invention, not mentioned in our Constitution. Its powers and budget are unchecked and unaccountable. It is now at $10 million/year. Cut it in half to $5 million…or cut it more. Its total power in times of majority Parliament is anti-democratic, especially in a situation of a “false majority.” Cut the power of PMO. Restore a healthier Cabinet system of government.
    3. Restore a respected, professional civil service. Return to evidence-based decision making. Rebuild the wall between the PMO and the PCO (Privy Council Office). Only under PM Harper have the political operatives in PMO run roughshod over the civil service, contaminating government information with partisan spin. This must be stopped.
    4. Pass legislation that deals with concentration of media ownership to encourage the rebirth of local journalism and reduce the powers of a handful of owners (our current legislation dealing with competition in the news media fails to deal with this issue and only addresses issues of the price of media products.)
    5. Restore respect for the supremacy of Parliament. Ensure that the control of the public purse is restored to Parliament, where it belongs.
    6. Remove the power of leaders of federal parties to sign the nomination forms for their party’s candidates. Allow the caucus members of parties the right to trigger leadership reviews.
    7. Senate reform — open conversations and negotiations with provinces. Is abolition possible? Could a council of the federation with more effective representation from municipalities, provinces and territories bring something useful to Parliament?
    8. And perhaps most important of all — re-assert the constitutional requirement that MPs are elected to represent their constituents, not to be mere ciphers of the back-room hyper-partisan spin doctors who call the shots.

Bring back Westminster parliamentary democracy. All our rules say we have one; only our political habits tell us we are moving toward an elected dictatorship. This prescription to restore and heal democracy can only be filled when the citizens of Canada demand it.

Canada Day 2013 is a good time to start.

Originally published in the Huffington Post.

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  • Blain Normand

    Very well put Elizabeth.To bad that with the media we have today,most of what you wrote will not be discussed in programs and the news.The power to do that is no longer in the hands of Canadians but in the hands of a few elite.I agree with everything you said.We must educate Canadians and to do that we must regain what was lost thru backroom deals,without our knowledge or approuval.Keep it up because more and more people are listening.

    • Hoodeet

      There are alternatives to the Mainstream Media, like rabble.ca, The Dominion, Media Co-ops across the country, and of course the CCPA (Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives), Council of Canadians, and others. No need to waste time.

  • Peter Johnston

    At least one MP is trying to return Canada to a truly democratic system of government. The status quo is a pseudo democracy which leave Canadians feeling that the political system is corrupt and that their votes will not count. A major change is overdue and vital if Canadians are to have a voice in the running of their country.

  • LCT

    Elizabeth May for Prime Minister!

    • Eugene Osudar

      so much corruption and entitlement thieving. 50% reduction in salaries
      of elected (parliament) and appointed (senate) citizens. no millionaires
      appointed. only citizens who apply and are interviewed. iceland is a
      great example, after their bankers stole BILLION$. in fact, 1 uniform
      salary, 80,000$ a year, (no one is “better” then another. all represent
      the People). remember, these politicians like to fire and lay off The
      People and appoint their defeated friends/”fundraisers” to govt
      positions. No more $1000 “donations,”er, kickbacks, from friends
      appointed, or awarded, govt contracts. cut pensions to 40,000$ a year
      (that is so generous of us to give to elected/appointed citizens, not
      many cdns have a great pension like this). pension after 10 years public
      service, to be collected at age 70 (since these scoundrels have raised
      the citizens’ right to benefits age to 67, let;s see how They like it).
      entitlement pigs, cut travel and booze expenses. no more luxury 5
      star/limos. Promise cdns this, and Greens will elect scores of members
      next election. and the election after, form govt.

      • Jake

        If you pay your politicians peanuts, then only the rich can afford to be politicians – even worse than now. How many people are going to campaign for parliament and leave their career for 4 or 5 years to make $40000.00/year (that’s pretty well what you get when you cut current salaries by 50%) Guess what – the less they make, the more attractive bribery looks.

        Not to mention that living in the capital is probably bloody expensive. No, thank you, I’d like my public servants paid well enough to flip the bird at anyone coming to bribe them. Make it a desirable position – get the best and brightest.

        • John Dunbar

          Not everyone in politics thinks first about money. The greatest people in politics usually don’t – they have in mind a higher ideal that they’re trying to bring about. Read a biography of the Marquis de Lafayette and Fidel Castro who gave up a life of privilege and wealth to fight for a better world.

        • Alexandre

          what is the minimum amount to be “paid well enough” for a politician to not be tempted by a bribe?

          • ABC/CRUSH

            It’s not about the amount our representatives are paid or how much our taxes are, it’sabout what value we get for the money, waste, corruption and imperios disrespect are not worth it at half the price. Keep the passion going Elizabeth, lead and we will follow.

      • Ariadne

        Pay the MP a fair wage. In fact, pay them the average wage that the average Canadian (a fiction of course) earns. Better still, tie their wage to the minimum wage in Canada. It’s time to do away with Provincial minimum wages and establish a federal one for the entire country. We could start it at $20 an hour.

    • Wilf_Day

      How do we get there? Start with the fact that electoral reform is a multi-partisan issue, and join Fair Vote Canada:
      http://www.fairvote.ca/

  • pmagn

    hear hear

  • Nick Gurnick

    None of this will happen unless we as Canadians make it happen. It is a certainty that as long as Mr. Harper is in power none of this will take place. In fact we are moving farther away from this at a faster pace than ever before. By 2015 there will be no democracy left in this country.

    • Deb

      totally agree… but “how” do we remove Mr. Harper from power with the system as it currently stands?

      • Patricia MacGregor

        That is THE question! HOW do we bring this government down?

        • mistrtim

          Occupy everywhere. In lineups, government phone lines, public places, legislative grounds, government offices.
          Standing man protests. Silent. Non confrontational. Peaceful. The dedicated few need to get the ball rolling.. but if we can get enough people.. we may just tip the balance and get others to notice and join with us.

          • Jake

            Getting enough people is called an election, and we have one every few years.

            If the ‘dedicated few’ get their way by ‘Occupying’ everything, isn’t that just an oligarchy?

            You want to make a change? get out the vote for your candidate. Or (GASP) run for parliament yourself, if you don’t like any of your choices. If you honestly think that no one running for election represents your views or the best interests of your fellow citizens, you’re morally obligated to run for election yourself.

            Of course, you may not like who gets elected. But that’s democracy for you. No one said it was nice, or pretty.

        • effelle

          RIGHT! Had some hope for cross-party cooperation to defeat Harper, but now that seems dead in the water. Now what to do? Any chance of showing the right-wing Christian Harper supporters how the Harperites are actually heretics when it comes to Christian values? — their treatment of refugees, First Nations, prisoners and Nature; their glorification of growth, exploitation and the profit motive — sure can’t see any sign of the Christian love message there!
          Anyway, keep up the great work Elizabeth!

          • Jake

            Fun fact – hard right christians are more concerned with gay people getting married and women maybe sometimes having sex with someone they’re not married to than they are with the poor. Ain’t no lovey-dovey messaging gonna get them on board there.

            The Christians concerned most with the poor and charity are probably already voting liberal, NDP, green or independent. Any of those choices is better than the Conservatives.

          • Marg

            Conservative radicals are in denial, they can’t see or hear anything they don’t want to see or hear.

      • ellie

        Guns? I often tell people the only thing Stephen Harper is missing is a hole in his head.

    • Jake

      How to bring Harper down? Uh…elect someone else next time.

      It’s really easy. We still have elections. We still have ridings. Harper can tweak some thing here and there and piss people off, but unless he starts to really change the constitution (good luck getting the provs to agree to that) we can just vote him out in a couple years.

      Be patient, and you could elect Elizabeth May for PM in a couple short years. Pretty cool, huh?

      I dislike Harper myself and find his neocon policies damaging and downright dumb, but the hyperbole you hear is pretty shrill. The man didn’t rise to power in a military coup – 4 out of 10 people in Canada voted for the man! Would you fell that much better if it had been 5.0000000000001 people voting for him and he did the same things? Would that magically make his idiocy legitimate?

      Everyone needs to chill a little bit. When the next PM is elected, no matter what they do, the people in the minority parties will claim they are the MOST EVIL PM EVAR and that they are raping/murdering/pillaging the country on behalf of their corporate/union/communist/brown shirt masters. Remember how the Alliance talked about Chretien?

      There will be democracy in 2015 – you may just not like who gets elected from it. That’s democracy for you – no one said it was nice.

      • Nick Gurnick

        The problem is, what could happen between now & then. Things like FIPA & CETA. The accumulation of native lands to please big oil & gas. The destruction of many ecosystems. So big corporations can make more money. The Arctic being given over to big oil & gas. These things cannot be change back even in a new democracy. What makes you think Harper won’t use every trick in book (legal & otherwise) to stay in power.

    • truthammer

      Harper is on record saying that we won’t recognize Canada when he is done making changes. I believe him. Harper and Alison Redford were the only Canadian politicians invited to Bilderberg in the past 10 years. They take their marching orders from NATO – backed think-tanks who sell us the lie of ” free-trade ” while concentrating the ownership of our natural resources in fewer hands. The global push for austerity has reached Alberta and the irony is not lost on most Albertans. Provincially and Federally , they are ” Coservative in name only !

  • adolan

    Great list Elizabeth. I would add: eliminate all political donations (corporate, union, individual etc.) and reinstate Chretien’s legislation that provided money to parties based on votes received in the last election. This would essentially “cap” election spending. Eliminate public polling during and preceding elections.

    • mistrtim

      This might work.. but only if we also ban corporations influencing politicians through consultancies and gifts AFTER they’ve left office!

      • Jake

        Agreed in principle – but the tricky part is keeping track of it. Once a person is a private citizen again, are we comfortable with violating their rights in order to watch their every move?

        Reinstating the per-vote subsidy is really a common sense solution and avoids so many of the problems you see in the United States, even if its not perfect.

    • Adam Oates

      I would like to see a ban on election advertising. Either require media to provide a specific, and equal, amount of coverage to all incumbents and their respective platforms, or produce packages to me mailed out to all registered voters complete with that information. This is the only means I can imagine that would allow the focus to return to local MPs as opposed to national parties on a whole and to eliminate the money from politics. it would give equal coverage to all incumbents, regardless of their financial backing. Let the individual MPs’ abilities and platforms speak for them, not their money and party leader.

      • Percy Hart

        In England there is NO Media advertising of political parties during an election just broadcasts of debates of candidates.

        • ellie

          The British have a much longer history of corruption in politics than we do. They had an aristocracy to fight for a very long time. Aristocracy=Mob/Mafia/Crime organization.

      • M. Hayes

        I’m with you on that one. No advertising for the national parties, ONLY for the individuals MP’s abilities and platforms speak for them, not their money and party leader. Good Idea!!

    • ellie

      Corporations should not be permitted to make donations to any organization whatsoever, and any found doing so illegally should immediately have their corporate charter permanently revoked, and the executives responsible given 25 years for EACH donation. Any corporation found guilty of influencing the media should be dealt with similarly. Democracy won’t be safe until the Feudal Empires that are Corporations are destroyed and replaced with Cooperative Business models.

  • chartreusenotobtuse

    Yes, Liz, the concentration of the media is a HUGE problem. It is no longer an independent press. In the 2011 election, only two of @ 60+ national papers did NOT endorse Stephen Harper. It was obviously NOT because of his brilliance in government or wise governing style.

    Other changes: 1) give Elections Canada some real power, including some of Marc Mayrand’s suggestions, to compel testimony from government & staff. No more hiding behind ‘parliamentary privilege’. Mandatory testimony. Depending on the severity of breach of Elections Act, let Elections Canada decide on the appropriate punishment, including being kicked out of Parliament and not allowed to run again (if it is criminal, then that should be investigated by RCMP).

    2) Speaker of the House should not be a member of any political party, but a non-partisan agreed to by all the political parties i.e. not an elected representative, perhaps someone from the legal profession or political science professor. Since most parties in power put someone from their own party ranks in this position, even though their decisions are *supposed* to be non-partisan, it is still seen as partisan and it is hard for anyone in this position to make a decision which would compromise the ruling party. My solution would mean the speaker would be seen by all as non-partisan, rather than a puppet of the party in power or someone beholden to the PMO.

    3) Enshrine in legislation the separation of powers between the government and arms-length agencies. The PM, PMO & government should not have any influence in selecting positions such as the Parliamentary Budget Officer, the Auditor General, the Integrity Commissioner, the RCMP Commissioner, the head of CBC, etc. We need to have faith that these people are above board and non-partisan. There should be a suitable selection committee in place, comprised of people approved by all major parties.

    4) Should the Upper House remain an institution, the power to appoint Senators should not rest in the hands of the PM, but also have a multi-partisan selection committee. This committee should come up with a suitable job description, so they can find the best candidates. Perhaps those people involved in community service would make better Senators than career politicians would. The committee should also have the power to retroactively fire anyone who does not meet the criteria or who has not performed adequately.

    5) There should be legal and legislative sanctions, spelled out, for any government found in contempt of Parliament. For a government to merely thumb their nose at having been found in contempt of Parliament, with absolute no legal or legislative repercussions, means that they can get away with thumbing their noses at democracy. For that matter, there should be legislative repercussions for intentionally disrupting committees: that should be considered an offense and abuse of Parliamentary privilege (the Conservatives purportedly had a manual instructing them on how to do this).

    6) I’ve been told (but haven’t verified it) that in the Netherlands, the senior staff of any Cabinet Minister is someone whose lifework has been in the field of that portfolio, rather than a political sycophant. Imagine what good advice we would get if we adopted that tradition, so the Minister of Education would have a teacher or principal, for instance, as their chief of staff, and the Minister of Health would have a doctor or nurse or other health professional as chief of staff, and the environmental minister, well, you get the picture.

  • Bill Tomlinson

    Every issue in this country comes down to this one of democracy, including, and especially, environmental issues. So why is Elizabeth May virtually the only one talking seriously about it? Why not Mulcair or Trudeau? Is it because they hope to take advantage of the near-dictatorial powers of the office of the prime minister?

    • E. Merle Hayes

      Good question, Bill. Elizabeth is the only Parliamentarian to be trusted and tells it as it is, the truth. Of course, Mulclair and Trudeau are facing off as to who is going to be the next Prime Minister!! Heaven forbid, neither one, including Harper!!

  • L0ngtermian

    I would agree with each item on its own. But how do you combine #1 and #6? Increased power for “unelected party brass” to nominate MPs was the main argument against MMP (Mixed Member Proportional) voting in Ontario. Having supported MMP only to see it get roundly defeated in the 2007 referendum, I would suggest having better arguments next time.

    How about letting only the proportionally elected MPs have party affiliations? The locally-elected ones would sit as independents, ensuring that they truly represent their constituents.

    • lotusland9663

      When Elizabeth May say she doesn’t understand why Wright paid the $90K and there’s been no explanation from the PMO – it’s simple. They wanted the Mike Duffy scandal to go away. They thought they could make it go away by making it look like he’s paid back the money he’d cheated. They were so arrogant they thought nobody would notice and they would get away with it – OOPS!! Make no mistake Stephen Harper, controls everything in his domain. He knew about it and approved Wrights action.

  • Guy Dauncey

    Way to go!

    And yes, #11, End all political campaign donations above $1,000, and to back to the Chretien legislation, as Alan Dolan is suggesting.

  • bb

    While I am all for proportional, I suspect the power of money to subvert it might render it ineffective anyway. If people will readily buy the Brooklyn bridge (or Christy Clark or Harper) on the basis of the right manipulative ads, it’s hard to be hopeful that there is any structural fix.

    • Jake

      Ah, the ‘everyone is too stupid’ argument against democracy. Haven’t heard that one for a while.

  • Chrissy

    Thank you Elizabeth! If we could only have some of what you say could become our reality we would be eternally better off in this country, but alas, not likely to happen with a controlled corrupt dictatorship at the helm.

  • http://freetobewealthy.net/ Doreen Agostino

    A Message From Egyptian Protesters To The United States Of America (plus a Video of the protests – turn the sound up for this one!)

    http://jhaines6.wordpress.com/2013/07/04/a-message-from-egyptian-protesters-to-the-united-states-of-america-plus-a-video-of-the-protests-turn-the-sound-up-for-this-one/

    Rise-up Canadians for the love of human, animal, plant life, our great Country, and
    world! When we create coherence in our internal systems of beliefs,
    thoughts, feelings, words and actions we radiate more coherence into the
    geomagnetic field of Earth, which brings global coherence closer to our collective physical reality.

    Power is knowledge applied. Knowledge applied peacefully by we the people is limitless power to transform harm into harmlessness.

    Thank you Elizabeth May!

  • ibonyun

    Well said.

  • http://freetobewealthy.net/ Doreen Agostino

    New RCMP Anti-Terrorism Force Protects Big Oil Tar Sands, Pipelines http://mohawkworkers.wordpress.com/2013/07/01/new-rcmp-anti-terrorism-force-protects-big-oil-tar-sands-pipelines/

    Rise-up peacefully Canadians for the love of human, animal, plant life, our great Country, world, and freedom!

    • Dave

      Are you actually suggesting that the RCMP should NOT protect pipelines and other oil infrastructure from terrorism?

      • http://freetobewealthy.net/ Doreen Agostino

        The Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth launched a new campaign,called Re-Think 9/11, to investigate the facts of 9/11. http://www.ae911truth.org/

        The Surveillance State has created an apparatus
        whose implications are staggering. To create solutions that
        allow our whole world to thrive, please listen to message from Foster and Kimberly Gamble, co-producers of Thrive the movie. http://youtu.be/VBz2n0aUHNE

        To unveil the truth please sign the petition and forward it to others. http://www2.ae911truth.org/signpetition.php

        • Dave

          You didn’t answer my question Doreen

  • ami

    I wish every single person in Canada could read this. No one in their right mind would ever vote against you if they knew what you stood for. You are a true inspiration and to have at least one person with a conscience in the Parliament is hopeful. A heavy weight filled with worry would be lifted from me to see you as our Prime Minister. You are the only true one fit for the job! Keep fighting, we are behind you and with every political debate we are trying to change the minds of those who cannot see.

    • Joanne Kehayas

      If only this were true! Unfortunately, the proposed changes would take power away from some very influential people — people who are part of corporations and who have personal gain/loss at stake. Ms. May’s proposals only make sense for a country filled with people who all care about each other and have little personal interest above getting only what is necessary for comfort and happiness.

    • jake

      The problem is not so much corporate media as it is totally apathetic voters. In the internet age, it’s possible for a reasonably motivated person to find all the information they need from independent sources if they so desire. Most people just don’t care.

      Everyone regularly ignores the elephant in the room. Voter turnout is abysmal. People don’t understand how their government works – I’ve talked to many people who think we have a congress. People are not informed because they don’t want to be.

      If people are constantly whining that ‘their vote doesn’t matter’ and ‘the corporations!!!!!!’, then the apathetic few just shrug their shoulders and say “Oh, well!”. Maybe it’s time we confronted our lazy fellow citizens with a few well-placed ad campaigns telling them to get off their butts and vote.

      If I didn’t have moral qualms about forcing people to vote, I would say make it mandatory. Or give people a $100.00 tax credit if they vote. Something to get the voting rate about 50%. What was it last time? 30%?

      • Percy Hart

        Cons were elected by 22% of “eligible voters”. 40% of “eligable voters” didn’t vote. The largest group of “non-voters” are 18- 25 year olds. The youth vote could have defeated the Cons if they simply voted. The youth vote could demand free education if they organized and voted. Get it together you bunch of whining punks and vote. Help us defeat the Harper Nazis in 2015.

  • bill friedel

    And probably the most important, rewrite canadian legislation to remove ALL political power from corporations (non-persons!), including extensive protection of the public from legislation by and for corporate entities. Currently, virtually 100% of our legislation at every level of government is influenced heavily (or completely dictated) by private corporate profit-motivated boards. We need to recreate real democracy, and that includes voting having real power, which must be taken back from the 1% or less who manage politicians like puppets on a string.

    • mistrtim

      Totally agree with you here Bill!

  • Trevor Jackson

    Right on!

  • Rob Ca

    “Proportional Representation” – you can’t get there directly from “first past the post” as it is just too radical a change. However, there is a path from “first past the post” to “proportional representation” that passes through “preferential ranking” – where all elected members WOULD have > 50% of the voters support to be elected.

  • Tango1

    Every one of your points is worth fighting for and I am so pleased to know that you are leading the charge. For me one point is missing: We need to rid this country, federally and provincially, of all corporate financial influence in politics.

  • Chyrel

    I’m so glad we have you Elizabeth. I feel we are losing democracy in this country, as Harper has become nothing more than an elected dictator.

  • Clint Hunter

    ☢☢☢ show me a system where the voter can propose legislation, amendments & repeals and cast direct votes on actual legislation

    + I shall show you a Real Canadian Democracy the would be worth the bother, if only to let steam out & promote natural everyday problem resolution processes which have been socially engineered out of the “herd” for the sake of subjugation

    = even if such a forum democracy is done transitionally & “U.N.officially” threw a few constituents offices computers with the elected Representative bring the people’s will back to Parliament, to introduce the notion & “ween” the sheeple into the process of informed decision making & assuming responsibility for their most important decision. This voting Power of Attorney is not the way to mature a society and shall always lack a balance of authority over accountability, even if we had 300 Elizabeth Mays at our service & not bothered by engineering their own obsolescence for the sack of real democracy as a homo sapient 1st.

    ( yes that is correct, not U.N.like the wateredown experiments such the change.org websites & https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/, only not ignored & shilled into jokedoom to be able to claim ” we tried, but see your fellow man is to dumb to learn how to self govern” )

    - you always knew I would be trouble miss may :)

  • Dougal Hubner

    Thank you Elizabeth for this commentary, it all but brought a tear to my eye. Everything you said is, I believe, true. I only hope there will be sufficient will from the people to see the required changes through to completion. Our system does not work for the people, the people seem to be working for our system!! What is wrong with this picture? It’s all bass-akwards!! Put the power back where it belongs, in hands of the very people the VOTERS have chosen, not the PMO. It’s small wonder people don’t get out and vote, who can blame them, it all looks such a mess these days with little hope of change any time soon, not as long as the real power is concentrated with the wealthy and well connected. I love Canada, it is my home and native land, and I truly hope you, and others like you will find a way to restore some respect and integrity to our worn & battered Westminster system; it does work, if it’s allowed to!!

  • Margaret Bingham

    This is brilliant, Elizabeth. Only one question….why do we need a Senate at all?
    Why can’t the elected and the opposition & other parties in the House of Commons handle all the business of all our provinces? We cannot afford Senators. They do not really do anything for the people of Canada.
    Sorry, one more question How do we go about changing all that you have
    written above without getting you in the Prime Minister’s seat?

  • Cheryl Fountain

    Elizabeth, Thank you for being you and raising awareness to Canadians worldwide. What is wrong with Canadian democracy? The definition of democracy is vague, and to many, our version of democracy is undemocratic.

    I agree that every single vote should count, no more proportional representation, that way we can truly have a voted in government. Also, when people are voted in, it does not mean they can quit listening to the people. A voted position does not mean that person is an expert in everything; a voted position means that person has a very important job to be an ear, to be a critical thinker, a researcher, and a leader.

    In house, when the person voted in to be the representation of the people speaks, that person needs to be listened to with open ears, honour, and respect, because that person, (if a true leader, listener, critical thinker, and researcher) would be truly representing the people. No more “boys club” attitude in our chambers, no more push back, no more not really answering the question and acting clever and feeling so high upon the pedestal… giggling about real requests…. and shutting people out.

    Elizabeth I wish there were more of you out there and I hope you know you have support from people like me who truly care about people, the environment, and building a Canada that every Canadian can be proud of.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  • Terry Tufts

    No restoration of environmental protections and legislation that’s been gutted by the Cons?

  • SSCoaster

    Good ones, but VERY small steps Elizabeth. The real fix? Outlaw political contributions. Outlaw Political parties altogether. Run independents only who represent their constituents. Everything else is a band-aid solution.

  • Rod

    Totally agree with the Huffington Post article.

  • Irvin Sumter-Freitag

    I would add 1 more plank that would guarantee my vote. As a retired teacher, I think that we should reward (not punish) our young people by burdening them with insane debt loads upon graduating from University. Let’s institute a system where excellence is rewarded, and forgive student loans for those whose GPA is at a high level. At the present time we spend far more on convicted felons than we do on students – and that simply makes no sense.

  • Andrew James Henderson

    Excellent Elizabeth and thank you! Just one thing: The expression is “to TOW the party line” and not “to TOE the party line”…i’m sure you see the difference…
    A.-J. Henderson
    Saint-Hubert
    Québec.

    • R.G. Bargee

      “TOW the party line”? Andrew, if you are going to correct someone you should check your facts before pressing ‘send’.

      to toe the line:

      (idiomatic) To abide by the rules or conventions.

      Television shows these days do not always toe the line of decency and common sense.

      (idiomatic) To stand at your mark before a footrace.

      Alberto Salazar is one of the most famous athletes to have toed the line at this great race.

      This is sometimes carelessly written as tow the line, which itself has taken on a new meaning as an eggcorn. This practice probably originated with people who heard the expression but were not familiar with the original spelling or meaning.

      • Andrew James Henderson

        Thank you! ajh.

  • Shelagh Huston

    The best and clearest descriptoion of what’s wrong I’ve heard yet. Go E;izabeth! You restore my faith in the possibility of real democracy.

  • Richard Boucher

    We need to vote via the Internet. Allow people to log Into a website using their appropriate credentials and allow citizens to generate ideas to be voted on as well as their elected leaders. The system needs to change as a whole as it is very outdated. Representatives were voted on by their peers because it was impractical to have everyone vote via mail 100 or 200 years ago. We can all vote instantly on any topic we want. Embrace the power of the Internet and lets climb out of the dark ages.
    And for all of you who are crying the Internet isn’t safe, consider most people do all of their banking online. As well as every other highly important and sensitive subject. Consider it.

    • David_Huntley

      No. The analogy of banking doe not work. With banking you can see if your instructions are obeyed; with voting you would not be able to.
      There are three security issues that as yet can not be satisfied. Your own computer is highly susceptible to malware. The transmission to the central server will not be secure. The software that processes the voting information may be hacked. If you do not believe all this ask an expert in a university computing science department.
      Besides this, I am not enthusiastic about the casual voting that would take place compared to the more thoughtful and real effort required to go to a polling station. And how would you ensure a secret ballot with the possibility in some cultures of a family memeber or other person watching you vote using a computer at home.

    • Derek V

      Richard, I agree with the sentiment of your statement, just not necessarily the outcome. As this is a good idea, there is not enough trust, nor should there be enough trust in a voting system with no accountability. Electronic voting booths in US elections have already shown discrepancies and built controversies based on their manufacturing and fraud potential. Now, considering the recent implications that the NSA IS spying on “non-american” citizens, potentially blackmailing and manipulating already, how could we $honestly trust the internet to be anything but rife with the potential for even more abuse.
      Not to say that it is a bad idea and maybe the idea of checks, balances, accountability and provability could save the idea from eventually being manipulated from the shadows, it seems a risky venture to dive into any solution that we will almost seem to beg for in the wake of its predecessors ineptitude..
      ..what if we follow a system similar to Australia’s where the voter turnout is 90+%. Simply put, everyone votes or gets a 50$ (roughly) fine. It seems enough to make it worth the effort to vote that day..

    • gs

      The large country to the far west of us where everything is made now, that hacked into our Federal Finance Department’s website a couple of years ago, and into U.S. websites as well, should give us pause in terms of the business we do on the Net, or the private information we place on the Net.

      Voting — sure let’s allow whoever to monitor a “privilege” like voting

  • Lorne Brandt

    Amen – wish we had a lot more MPS like Ms May.

  • David_Huntley

    Getting rid of “First Past the Post” is essential. There is a varietyof proportional systems, and they vary as to the dirstribution of power between parties and voters. We should choose one of the systems that gives power to the voters, not parties. But, keep in mind that any proportional system is far superior to what we have now.

  • Cindy Aspden

    Eliminate lobbying. Zero tolerance for conflict of interest & eliminate revolving door from Corporations to gov’t. Set amount for expense accts and all spending must be accounted for and visible to the taxpayers with regular audits. Eliminate privatization of gov’t.

    • Jake

      Eliminate lobbying? What about civil rights groups, environmental organizations, international charities and organizations? Are we going to make special provisions for the kinds of lobbying that we like?

      • Cindy Aspden

        Therein lies the problem. Open the door for special interests and you get the revolving door and bribes aka lobbying imo.

  • John Robertson

    Very well expressed , Ms. May.

    Political donations are vital to the functioning of a democracy; both in financing political activities and campaigning. However, I would suggest:

    1) banning ALL organisational donations

    2) restricting the amount of individual donations.

    Proportional representation does not suit a parliamentary system where a candidate represents a specific area and population. It is only suitable for small jurisdictions with cohesive interests. A transferable “ballot”, on the other hand, addresses the problems of first past the post and ensures a better expression of preference in the result. This model was used twice in BC, in 1952 and 1953. There are more spoiled ballots under this system and the counting is more protracted but it is still relatively simple and successfully used by many organisations.

    I believe that the Senate could be a useful body and more to the point an important brake on Parliament , but only if substantial reform is undertaken. One avenue would be the appointment of senators selected by a free vote of the respective provincial houses. By removing “partisanship” from the selection process we would have a body freed, to a substantial extent, from the constraints of direct party affiliation. Other reforms are needed and perhaps they can eventually be achieved but we know what happens when constitutional issues are raised in Canada. Perhaps the Senate be starved and left to die.

    Canadians are apathetic and too comfortable when it comes to politics. We are generally uninformed and lazy about being involved, some of this is due to frustration with the system but much is “let the other guy do it”. We have to look to ourselves to demand change for the good of all not our just selfish interests.

  • Judy

    Excellent article! Are you the only politician with any sense? It sure seems like it,
    and you have the solutions too!

  • Dave

    I would add, No political ads outside of elections and restrict those ads to information on the advertiser’s policies without reference to other political parties. Ban attack ads. And finally, demand that politicians respect the members of opposing parties.

  • bernadette slosmanis

    I like all your comments. No.1 especially. How can this be achieved?

    Municipal politics are the same – opaque, e.g. city councillors giving themselves a raise after the mayor has fired the Environmental Workers & cut drastically the amount of flowers that usually grace the parks. And it goes on.

  • George Atkinson

    An excellent approach!! Try the viral video approach to get it out__maybe with the help of shitharperdid _www.shd.ca.nyud.net/. GO FOR IT!!

  • h20phoenix

    What do those with power want? More power. More power requires more control. If ‘absolute power corrupts absolutely’, then we are looking at a gov’t/elite/corporations who are corrupt beyond anything we could imagine. The clock is ticking… wake up*

    If we want to see democracy still thriving by 2020, then we had better seriously begin the process of implementing this fine plan that Elizabeth May has outlined above en mass.

  • john hyslop

    I would add one more caveat to this list: eligible citizen over the age of 17 MUST vote: no exceptions.

    • only1taxpayer

      HURRAY – with (as I understand it) Toronto passing the ability of anyone (citizen or not) to vote at the municipal level, it’s time to return the election process to Canadians, No citizenship – No vote (and a failure to vote at all required levels of government, municipal, regional, provincial and federal levels, should also remove the rights to health care, pensions et al)

      Each citizen should be provided at no cost with one of the new (highly secured) passports and that is the ONLY form of identification that should be acceptable for the voting process. Revenue Canada (customs) already has a verification system (with electronic readers) that use passports to track activity so it should be quite simple to use that software as the basis of a new Canada wide voting identity system.

  • Louise Leclair

    Some great ideas Ms May and I totally agree with the proposal to reinstate public money for elections and ban corporate, union and other third party money. In addition the use of polls should banned as political interference in electiions. How about promoting coalition governments as a possible way of moving toward an end to first past the post.

  • John Gaul

    I agree with Ms. May’s points for improvement of our democracy. I would also add:

    All appointments to government should be made by a hiring committee and not the PM.

    The PMO should be abolished. The Privy Council should advise the PM and his advisors.

    All elections should be paid for by the public purse. That way no one can buy the election. It also allows the public to control the temper of our elections. Maybe debate should replace attack ads.

    The traditions and practices of parliament should be revised to promote democracy and protected by law. If you play fast and lose with the “rules” you will be punished.

    Any crimes committed by members while in office should be treated as criminal code violations and if found guilty the penalty should be the maximum allowed under the law. This reinforces that illegal activity by politicians is a particularly odious crime.

    The one useful thing Stephen Harper has done is inadvertently pressure test our democratic institutions. The leaks are obvious for all to see who care to take the trouble to look. Our democracy is too important to leave in a state that can be manipulated by anyone against the broad public interest.

  • Chris

    Great ideas and inspirations …. but … how do we get the people who don’t vote or gave up on believing in an Government that cares about the people to read this post???

    • Deane Studer

      By each and every one of “us” who cares to leave a message on this post. Get out and talk to one person about who Elizabeth May is and what she stands for! Easier said then done, right? How much do we care for our democracy?

    • Anne LaRocque

      Do you have a Facebook or a Twitter account? Share her view on both. The more people who read it the more power it will have. We as a nation need to take back our country from the massive corporations who presume to tell us what is good for us and our country. If the Egyptians
      can do it so can we.

  • Paul Winkler

    Brilliant commentary – I’ve long believed in all of these principles, and I’m delighted that a National party leader agrees!

  • Brent Fullard

    People need to know in advance the actual individual it is who will be
    representing them. This is the good thing about first past the post and
    the drawback to proportional representation. The better way to make
    voters feel their vote counts and it’s worth showing up to vote, would
    be to allow them two alternative ways to cast their single vote. That
    single vote could be cast in favour of their preferred candidate or it
    could be cast against the candidate they least favour. This change to
    the voting system would cost nothing to implement as it would only
    require a second column on the ballot, and it sure would motivate people
    to vote, since most people are clearer on who they don’t want, than who
    they do want.

    BTW: I think Elizabeth May is the best politician (I prefer the term elected representative) operating in this country at this point in time.

    • jake

      You can have a ranking system or a Instant Runoff type vote that ensures you still vote for your local representative, but it makes sure you still get a choice and virtually eliminates strategic voting. More power for smaller parties, and weakens the big boys.

  • kasi_visvanath

    i demand it!

    thankyou Elizabeth for this excellent article expressing so clearly and eloquently what i and many other Canadians have seen to be true with the malaise of this poor country’s Democracy…i agree with every point you made, although i’m not in favour of abolishing the Senate. i believe it has a useful role to play when the house is run by fanatics like the current government…of course it only really works if the Senators are independently minded and will vote according to the facts, rather than because Harper told them to….like that recent private member’s bill requiring unions to post their cash flows online once, but not requiring other orgs that get Federal Tax breaks to do the same…

    the bill was defeated because a number of CONSERVATIVE senators voted against it….under the principle that it restricts “free enterprise”, and was not being equally applied to ALL organisations that get Government tax breaks…that was impressive, and shows what the Senate really is for, in my view…independent thinking Senators voting according to reason and experience and the facts, rather than political ideology… anyways that was my only quibble with your piece…the rest was superb and eloquent, and i wish that it would happen NOW! well past time for it, in my view, when a party can get a majority because they got 24% of the eligible voters to vote for them, and 36% voted “progressive”, but split the vote…and worst of all 40% stayed home…not interested in elections, thank you very much…

    thanks again so much for this article.

  • Emmryss

    And where do we take this prescription to be filled? I look forward to further posts that take each item and unpack them into the steps that would need to be taken to achieve them, what forces might line up behind such change, what forces might be counted on to oppose them, what kind of movement would be needed to succeed, how such a movement might be built … you know, the usual business of movement politics.

  • Dean Camfferman

    Let’s get started! I’m in

  • mistrtim

    I second that motion!
    Elizabeth May for Prime Minister!

  • Derek V

    ..howabout a BAN on OMNIBUS legislation?
    maybe, just maybe, if a bill cannot be properly represented and debated individually, then it should not be stuffed and hidden within pages of irrelevant material, hoping to squeeze through on the power of ignorance and deceit.

  • MM

    Thanks Elizabeth, you are once again right on the mark.

  • ConcernedCitizen

    The fact that $90K can be only part of a senator’s expenses makes me wonder what the total cost per senator is. If an ordinary citizen of Canada had basically embezzled that (or any) amount of money from their employer, it would have resulted in termination and probably criminal prosecution. What makes a senator exempt from these repercussions?
    Large, Corporate contributions have no place in the Canadian democratic process.
    We “police” developing nations democratic process (no doubt because we have something to gain behind the scenes), and yet our own elections and parliaments are rife with corruption, cronyism, and deceit. It’s time we had some fresh faces that didn’t agree to play by “the rules”
    It’s time to hold people accountable. Elected and unelected – so that means politicians and bankers.
    The media has become cowed and subservient over the last 3 decades. No ones asks the tough questions anymore. When someone just spouts the party line and fails to answer a question, pursue them on it. It’s so frustrating to hear them get away with it time and time again.

    • chartreusenotobtuse

      I agree with your observations re: corporate contributions. But beg to differ re: “the media has become cowed & subservient”. I believe that the print media is not so much cowed, as that there are precious few independent news media left in Canada.

      For instance, Winnipeg used to have the Winnipeg Tribune, as well as the Winnipeg Free Press… but the Tribune disappeared (along with many other independent newspapers) long ago. I’ve read many times that there is more monopoly control and concentration of media in Canada than in any other western democracy. There are about 3 conglomerates that have control over almost all our media (not counting the independent online media). Most Canadians will get their news & political info and opinions from print newspapers or TV. Only people who are already politically savvy… for instance, like the people commenting on this blog… will look to online independent sources for their news.

      I feel it was a mockery and a travesty to independent thought and opinion and even democracy when all but two daily newspapers (one of them being the Toronto Star) endorsed Harper in the election of 2011. One important law that needs to be changed would be to have limits on media concentration… as well as offering legal measures that would benefit smaller, independent press.

  • Davey P

    On point 4: Legislation is not needed. What is needed is innovation. We need a framework that allows small groups to publish as effectively as the mainstream media. Today’s technology, and a willingness to share the framework with people who do not share your beliefs, are all that is needed,

    On point 7: What is needed is to replace the unelected senate with a proportionally elected senate so that we have two elected houses, one with representation by area and one by the system you favour. Both systems have advantages and disadvantages. Together they are better than either one alone. If both houses were the same size, conflicts could be resolved by a joint vote.

    • only1taxpayer

      I agree about finding a way to set up a new form of “news dissemination” system from what we now call the “press”.

      This something I’ve been working on at a municipal level and have found that you still have to get the word out as to where you can be found and what you stand for.

      only1taxpayer.ca is a website highlighting the municipality of Clearview just South of Collingwood and Wasaga Beach in Ontario.

      Print ads and flyers sent through Canada Post do work but are very expensive, they do get you initial exposure but you also need something to keep up the pressure to return.

      Maybe Elizabeth would be prepared to add a “local’ flavor to her national web presence by adding a search engine for lower level positive change web sites.

  • Disgruntled

    For those out of the population that don’t vote , that should be counted as a vote of none confidence against all governments running . All the lies and half truths spewed out the mouths of politicians to gain trust and your votes only to become half truths and outright lies after they get into power especially if its a majority government . In the end voters are left with the who’s the least of the worst to vote for .

    I agree with your 8 points on what what ails our democracy. Most politicians seem to be in the pockets of corporations under the guise of what’s good for the economy , But running a country not all about the economy .

    Some programs and spending will see no returns and are a drain on the tax dollars but some are needed and first to be cut .

    We could save 100′s of millions to billions of dollars by cutting the wages , retirement packages , spending allowances etc in half, from the top (Prime Minister) down .

    We could probably save millions of dollars from the spending into health care that are being payed out from the government to the health care system for low income to below poverty level people that have heath care payed for by the government that may have passed away or have moved out of province , as the health care system requires one to inform the health care system if one is moving out of province as well as discontinuing use or has passed away , failure to do so means the health care system still reserves money from the government towards the health care system , at least in BC anyway.

    As for dentistry care its a joke for low income or below poverty living people . most dentists are comedic dentist now , an emergency dental service is an infected life threatening tooth decay in order to be covered by emergency services.

    This being said money doesn’t have to be cut from non profitable programs in order to save money . Cutting money being spent and waisted from the top would be better spent at the bottom , giving people struggling at the bottom a chance to make their lives better .
    Liberals gut labor law, undermine workers rights make huge budget cuts,
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/britishcolumbia/story/2010/03/05/bc-budget-cuts-welfare-homeless.html

    Basing the voting on the population that can vote and that doesn’t vote , that be a vote of none confidence against all parties running, would be a more accurate assessment of the general attitude against politicians lieing and telling half truths to get your votes.

    ~_~ there are very few politicians that are half decent to the low income and below poverty living people in Canada . When politicians are talking about what good they can do for people they usually mean the lower middle to upper class corporate elites . And for them having people not voting is a vote that’s not against them .

  • Noah Patterson

    No doubt all these changes need to happen.

    But Ms May addressed right off the top *the* dominant problem – “public apathy, indifference bordering on antipathy toward the whole process”.

    All the other changes proposed, while necessary, will mean nothing if the electorate is disengaged.

    Solve that problem and the rest will come. But how do we solve that problem? How do we get people engaged when we are a nation that invents weak excuses to not vote because it’s too complex?

    • Ann Coffey

      I couldn’t agree more with what Elizabeth said about public apathy and indifference bordering on antipathy toward the whole process. Really, when 61% of voters either voting against the Conservatives or for another party “lose” the election and the Conservatives win a majority with only 39% of the vote, it’s enough to make anyone apathetic, and even angry about a system that permits such a thing. When a government controls the MP you voted for to serve as your representative to such an extent that you and your community have absolutely no say, what is the point in voting?

      I’d like to add mandatory voting to the list. It works in Australia, so why not here?

      • disqus_mwzFKvUOmb

        I haven’t investigated how this has impacted how the parties advertise their wares. Do you know the culture this has created with the voters? Has it undermined indifference of the public? I am curious

  • shnookm

    What exactly is proportional representation, and how would that work as opposed to “first past the post”?

  • Rick

    Three cheers Elizabeth! The criminal behaviour of the CPC (election fraud, etc.) shows we must be watchful and get involved if we are to take back the power that has been stolen by them. Yes these people as despicable but to ignore them and paint everything political with the same brush will not bring change. It has brought and will bring more “democratic dictatorships” as we have now. Get involved, talk to your kids and friends about this and then vote in 2015 to end the rule of the current day brown shirts we have in Canada.

  • Cecile

    To say we need more politicians like you, Elizabeth, would just be a gross understatement. Those of us who are still engaged in the political system see that it is fatally flawed and needs lots of fixing. These measures would certainly go a long way to putting the power of democracy back where it belongs…in the citizens’ hands! You are a gem, Elizabeth…keep fighting!!

  • Vern M

    The voters should be able to recall any rep that the voters have found not to be representing their constitutents.

  • Scott Preston

    Great post, Elizabeth. At least someone amongst our elected representatives is talking about fixing the democratic deficit.

  • Dwight Makepeace

    Elizabeth May may not be tall, but she towers above most of our MPs when it comes to the things that matter (honesty, intelligence . . .) A voice of reason in these dark political times.

  • Phil

    Well said Elizabeth. But how to move forward? Sooner or later, hopefully sooner, the non-conservative parties must cooperate in order to collectively win a federal election, with a commitment to institute proportional representation during the parliamentary session, and hold a following election under prop rep as soon as possible. Can you be the catalyst for this to happen?

    • Walter

      Well said Phil
      It should not be too difficult to find common ground with the NDP and progressive parts of the liberals.

    • Billy

      Make it happen Elzabeth.

  • bret

    The Solon Amendment,

    A proposed Constitutional amendment, intended
    to remove the influence of money upon our elections and our political
    processes, which is causing the alienation of our citizens from the very
    government whose power is to be derived from their consent.

    The proposed amendment reads as follows:

    I. All political campaign contributions should derive solely from
    registered voters within the district, territory or state that the
    candidate is seeking to represent.

    II. Contributions from registered voters shall be limited to a single candidate per office in each primary or general election

    III. The total value of all political contributions, monetary or of
    material value, given by a registered voter during a calendar year shall
    not exceed 10% of the average per capita income, as determined by the
    most recent United States census.

    IV.. This limit on monetary
    and material contributions shall not be construed to limit a registered
    voter, or any other citizen, from contributing any amount of their
    personal time or labor to any political cause or candidate of their
    choosing, or in any other way limit the rights of speech or assembly.

  • Radjuli

    i agree on all points! where can i vote to implement these changes?!

  • Amy@SoulDipper

    I’m a 67-yr-old Salt Springer in the Justice program, through Edx, at Harvard. We are studying the various philosophies behind “justice” and how involved our gov’ts ought to be in our lives.

    So many of us can be so close in thought and ideology, yet thoroughly misunderstand each other. We race through the maze of solutions and try to ‘fix’ with more policy, laws, regulation, beliefs, practices…

    Our youth have been born AWAKE, Elizabeth. Many see much more than older generations give credit. They carry clarity and we need to listen.

    Why the hell would they be encouraged to vote when most of the time what we vote for is not upheld? When the government simply does what it wants anyway? When we find out that all the policies and staffing still doesn’t prevent supposedly responsible people from being thieves?

    You want us to trust politicians? And engage? Start being trustworthy.

    And you are, Elizabeth. A million thanks.

  • Scott Preston

    From the other parties I receive only solicitations or propaganda. From Elizabeth I receive arguments and ideas. No question in my mind who is the best rep in the House.

    • Michael Mallin

      Elizabeth stands head and shoulders above the rest…but she stands alone. It is essential that the Green Party win more than one seat in parliament. So let us keep voting, hopefully not for the lesser of evils but for positive individuals who will honestly represent the Canadian people.
      Many people don’t vote because they don’t want to choose between evils. The Green Party has to offer candidates that will excite their positive motivations.

  • Frances Deverell

    May it be so! Thanks Elizabeth

  • GOLDIE

    THANK YOU FOR BEING A VOICE OF REASON IN A WHOLE CACOPHANY OF CONFUSION AND MISTRUST.

    • Trololololo

      CAPS LOCK IS CRUISE CONTROL FOR DEMOCRACY

  • Norm Starr

    It is time for a major overhaul to gov’t in this country. Too much power in too few hands makes for out of control tyranny. Too much corruption. Too much financial waste. No accountability.
    It is time for the elected bodies to remember who put them where they are. It is time gov’t returned to “working for the people” instead of the other way around.
    It is time for the people who put gov’t in power to be able to strip away that power should officials get out of control again.
    I could rant for hours, but you get my drift by now.

  • Wally

    Why is it that once in power all such promises for change go out the window? Would the Green Party stand by these changes come hell or high water?

  • Bridget MacKenzie

    excellent !!! now we have to work to put these points into effect.

  • Laurent Beaulieu

    Great suggestions and important that change start to happen otherwise we will be in serious trouble. We do not have 20 yrs to do this. It needs to happen now.

  • Gordon Jennings

    Amen… a little light has shone in an otherwise very dark place. At 52 years of age I have never been more disheartened by what corruption I’ve seen in the last few years. The Green Party is looking better and better. Thank you for your desire to see a true democracy in Canada, and with it, perhaps, a return to the position of global leadership we used to enjoy. I second the comment before me… Elizabeth May for Prime Minister!!

  • fiona_w

    Excellent piece. While electoral reform won’t solve all these problems automatically, without it we will never have a healthy democracy.

  • E Polley

    And how about the ability of the average person to run for parliament, and not just the independently wealthy? Perhaps then we could elect people who are really interested in change instead of preserving the status quo which represents their vested interests. Our system is badly broken, and almost everything about it needs to change.

  • Ian Baird

    How about take back canada from the City of London and the fraudulent international banking cartels and use the Bank of Canada instead???

    We could make loans to build our country with no interest!!! :)

  • Pete

    I’d love to live in a true democracy where I have a direct say in how our tax dollars are spent. To think we live in a democracy is naive… I’d like for MP’s to poll their constituants to see how people think about current issues like for example the bill that scraped the navigateable water act, I’m sure if we (Canadians from coast to coast) had been asked, there is no way in hell this goes through… I’ve worked in the oil patch for the last 10 years and I’ve seen some pretty shady stuff happen but the one that made me get into my truck and leave location was the fact that while drilling on the shore of a big lake, they contaminated said lake and we were told that the location was a “tight hole operation” which mean can’t talk about it. We didn’t know what happened but it leaked out and as soon as I found out, I left, never to go back again… Have you heard anything on the news about it? Nope, not one word of it… Why is that? Show me a Government that will do what it’s actually mandated to do, that is represent the people, and I might vote again, but all we have are money hungry whores who would sell their own mother to make a buck. I had uncle who was an honest politician, you know how I know? He went in poor and he came out poor…

    • Jake

      Uh…why didn’t you give the news an anonymous tip? I don’t doubt that these things happen sometimes, but…

      [citation needed]

      Also, all the major companies are beasts that feed on money. Give them less of your money, and you can starve them. Trade in that truck for a fuel efficient car, a bike, or your own two feet.

      If you feel so strongly about reforming politics, run. I’ll vote for you. Somehow I doubt you’ll bother. Everyone’s waiting for someone else to make it worthwhile for them to vote. Unless you keep voting, you just ensure an oligarchy of the people who bother.

  • Marg. Hall

    This message needs to be shared with the entire voting population of Canada. It needs to be heard. Congratulations for telling it like it is Ms. May!

  • westerling

    Elizabeth May, I beg to differ on the point of the average voter. I meet a lot of people and without them knowing, I sound them. Most, of the people that I meet are average voters, and I would like to add that they are very naive and really do not understand how politicians work. Since I am a journalist and also a writer of international repute, I find thneral public are not very smart or into politics. If you hsave the time, please type my name “KENNETH T. TELLIS; onto GOOGLE and see the results.
    Regards,
    Kenneth T. Tellis

  • E.M.O.

    We have a long way to go to achieve Elizabeth May’s dream. Even half of what she suggests would be a big help. How about getting more citizens out to vote?

  • John C. Holroyd

    Somehow we must also find a way to blunt the influence of Corporate Multinationals, who wield huge power over the government. All Prime Ministers since (and including) those awful Mulroney years (1984 -1993) have bowed and complied with pressure from agencies such as the Frazer Institute and the Council of Chief Executives. These so called “Think Tanks”, are made up completely of chief executives of corporations, many, if not most of which are foreign controlled and owned. They excuse their use of power, by telling us that they are the ones who create jobs. The truth is, they are the people who are governed completely by the “bottom line”, and indeed have been responsible for the export of countless jobs, starting with the MacClidora Corridor in Mexico, going on to China, Philippines, Indonesia Thailand etc. etc., essentially, anywhere they can find labour cheaper than at home. They are also the group that pay themselves ridiculous multi million dollar salaries, while denying Canadians a chance to have a job and earn a decent living.
    The current leader of the Council of Chief Executives is John Manley, who as a politician, took every opportunity to defer to the American Government. Tom de Aquino was just as bad when he was head of the CCCE for years.

  • bryan chadwick

    check this out

  • Gray in Vancouver

    Great piece, Elizabeth. I sometimes wonder if the Senate could be administered like jury duty – by random selection, vetting & installation for a specific period of time. As with jury duty, it would be a civic obligation, but with a good salary. Senators could participate electronically from home with sessions in Ottawa. Having served in juries I am amazed at how well they work. I

  • bg

    Good ideas, now tell me the plans that are in place for how you are going to do it.

  • Richard Spearman

    Agreed on all points, Elizabeth. Now, how can the citizens of Canada work together to ensure a return to Westminster parliamentary democracy? Ay, there’s the rub!

  • StraightShooter

    The majority of media and the political and corporate influences keep all people in the dark. If all Canadians knew the reality of what was happening to our environment – land, water, oceans and skies; and otherwise – not just locally, but globally, we would vote appropriately. Democracy would work if a) everyone was properly informed on the things that truly matter and b) they felt that there were enough quality candidates from the Green Party to represent. We’re entering a new era of consciousness – albeit slowly, but gaining momentum where if the Green Party finds a way to disseminate the important information to the voters and has enough representation, this country could actually turn things around and be a leader and inspiration here and to other countries around the globe. The time has passed for outdated, archaic rhetoric and activities. Those in power are still clinging to the past to serve their private interests and keep the same game and the status quo.

  • Jim Richards

    Thank you Elizabeth………….and these are only a few of the reasons I vote Green!

  • Bart

    The requirement that MPs must represent their constituents makes proportional representation difficult. If you get 10% support in every riding, how do you pick the 10% of ridings that are represented by that party. I think proportional representation trumps having a riding-based representative. If I want to be heard about some issue I’d prefer to select a representative based on his/her convictions and skills rather than the one that happens to live in my neighbourhood.

  • Nai

    The senate should remain as the voice of reason for when an elected government starts getting carried away with itself ,their occasional past brilliances of softening in an non partisan way of some excessive bills has been helpful to Canada as a whole.
    The people elected to the parliament by the people should by mandate serve the people first and the party second. When it is seen that the party is exerting excessive force on an elected person to go against their constituents desires but follow party lines the party should be held accountable.

  • Bruce Mackenzie

    I think one simple change could make a huge difference – restore the ability of MPs or MLAs to ‘un-elect’ their leader.

    In Canada, the PM controls all three branches of government (legislative, budget, and to some extent judiciary) as well as holding the plums of cabinet power. Without any means to remove him or her there is no brake on the power of the PMO. Australia and Great Britain have our systems, but have retained the ability to remove the leader, as happened recently in Australia. This makes their politics more ‘blood sport’, but it is also more democratic because the elected MPs have more power.

    I have seen several times when bad leaders are able to run their parties down to nothing (e.g. Bill Van der Zalm, W.A.C. Bennett in BC) as their elected members stand by helplessly.

    If the PM takes too much power and loses the respect of the members, he or she should not continue to hold the keys to the government. This one change would restore a balance of power to the MPs we elect.

  • Kurt Collins Dehnert

    If you want to restore Canadians faith in government, maybe the politicians should start acting on the wishes of their constituents instead of their funders. Furthermore, until the distortions of prohibition are corrected and Indigenous disparity is settled, I only recognise a horse of a different colour. Regardless of its colour, a horse is still a horse.

  • homeinNelsonBC

    I couldn’t agree more….the question is….how do we all get together…if only we had
    the ability to impeach….?

  • insaneupsdriver

    You know if you can find the 2 study’s on marijuana that Harper paid for in 03. you can use it to arrest him. they both showed that a single joint is less harmful then a can of cola. that means it’s harmless and prohibition on it is illegal by default.. that means Harper willingly and knowingly destroyed evidence that put innocent people in jail. as far as i’m concerned that’s treason. the hard part is finding it. He had the CBC, CTV and National delete the data. good luck finding it. i’ve been looking everywhere for the last 5 years in the hopes i could bring it to light to no success. but i know it exists, i read them on all those sites so i know they have it somewhere.

  • Elizabeth Wallace

    Thank you for articulating my own observations so well. I haven’t given up on the system but it’s pretty sickening to watch.

  • Joan Jones

    I would like to see those in government and the civil service be held accountable for statements that they make in managing our country with our tax money e.g.” yes we have a surplus in the bank”, and then when the opposition gets to look at the books, we are told that this was an outright lie. Lying should not be tolerated or ignored. This would set the standard for a government worth voting for.

  • Dan Carpenter

    Firstly, I believe voter apathy is a direct result of our government losing respect for the voters. Partly this is due to the fact that the Government is a Corporation and the Prime Minister is the CEO. Our government should not be in business period.

    Secondly, the party system is not there to serve the people. They are there to serve themselves. This system has divided government into two or more factions and the only thing we need to pass legislation is a free vote for all MP’s without towing line to a party initiative. The majority value must be increased to a rate higher than 51% with a suggested rate of 80%. This will represent a greater majority of voters. So that when the people say no, no means no.

    Our constitution requires scrutiny. Too many rules contradicting each other drives the people away. We don’t know what our rights are anymore. Additionally, we need to break away from the “City of London” which will be easy to do since the Peoples Trust has foreclosed on all Corporate Governments, Banks, Courts/Justice systems, Insurance and Corporations operating under the current systems of incorporation.

    This foreclosure within the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) that 195 country’s governments operate under, registered in Washington DC under the Securities and Exchange Commission was foreclosed on 25 Dec 2012. Most of these governments, banks and corporations are operating illegally within their own commercial law. That is how corrupt the entire system is. Technically, there are no more countries, provinces, states or municipalities, they have all been foreclosed and as a result, there are no borders.

    Anyone interested if following up on this can verify the links supporting the registration of the Government of Canada Corporation on the SEC and the foreclosure documents at

    http://www.I-UV.com

    or search your favourite search engine and type in: OPPT or One Peoples Public Trust.

  • Roy Mills

    Yes, it is all good stuff, but it cannot all happen at once. Somehow we have to get people wanting to use their vote, and I think that proportional representation will do that over time. yet BC was given that opportunity a few years ago and voted it down. Too complicated i think. The Australian way might help too. You won’t get rid of parties, how else would a group of like minded people be able to put up a platform for voter consideration. proportional representation and Elizabeth for PM would be a good start, much of the rest would follow in due course.

  • disqus_OJXKE0pJ41

    One key control that helps keep the British Prime Minister in check is the fact that the English Members of Parliament may vote the PM out of office. Interestingly, the British left this our of our original Constitution. Just like they left off certain parts from the submarines we purchased from them under Conservative Peter McKay’s supervision.

  • Isaac P.

    The biggest, and first, obstacle seems to be getting individuals IN to vote. I propose that GST Checks ONLY be given to registered voters who have voted in the last election. I’m not sure if it would be a viable solution, but in this day and age, the fastest way to wake people up and get them to pay attention is to punch their wallet repeatedly. Most unfortunate, but still accurate.

  • patrick brown

    The mention of apathy. ” a typical canadian is neither for nor against apathy” this must change before anything else will change. cheers.

  • SDP

    So many excellent suggestions are presented by these commenters. I’m sure many more will follow. If it’s as plain as day to all of us that things are terribly WRONG with our democracy, WHY IS IT NOT SIMPLY GLARING TO ALL OF OUR INTELLIGENT SENATORS, MP’s, CABINET MINISTERS AND OF COURSE OUR UPSTANDING, HONOURABLE PRIME MINISTER AND THE MANY THAT PRECEDED HIM TOO. All this sickening graft, corruption, favouritiism, etc., etc. have been going on forever. Only now it is being flaunted more than ever.

    YES PRIME MINISTER ELIZABETH MAY HAS A SUPERB RING TO IT!!!

    PLEASE GOD HELP US DOWNTRODDEN, EXASPERATED, DISILLUSIONED CITIZENS WHO JUST WANT A FAIR SHAKE FOR ALL FROM OUR DEMOCRATICALLY CHOSEN GOV’T.

    OH CANADA, WE STAND ON GUARD FOR THEE.

  • Sally A

    Elizabeth May for prime minister. I am going to join the Green Party. I want my Canada back, in my life time.

  • Jake

    An instant-runoff type election or some kind of voting ranking system would work OK instead of first past the post. It wouldn’t be perfect, but then, what is? That way, at least you’d still be voting for your own rep, but you could vote in a more nuanced fashion and you could virtually eliminate strategic voting. Might be hard to get anything other than a minority government, though.

    I don’t think outright abolishment of the senate would be a good idea. The whole idea of a bicameral government is to provide a ‘sober second thought’ to passing legislation. Anyone have any examples of countries similar to Canada with a monocameral legislature?

    Senate Reform is tricky – it’ll probably involve getting elbow deep in the constitution, which is seldom a popular move.

    I’m not sure about #8 – how exactly would we re-assert this, or enforce it? It would be difficult to objectively prove that an MP was not representing their riding, especially when whipped votes are still a thing. Also, remember that Canada is a representative, not a direct, democracy, which means that your MP may sometimes have to go against what you or your constituents believe based on your own judgement. They aren’t just elected to do exactly what you tell them – otherwise we’d be having mini-referendums on every vote.

  • Kirsten Mawle

    We should demand it …I Will. God on you Elizabeth such a great Representative for us!

  • Kirsten Mawle

    Good for you Elizabeth! Who will demand change? we should! …I Will!

  • Pat T

    we should also stop the gerrymandering. SK goes straight conservative because they parse the urban vote with large swaths of rural areas, so all the lefter leaning city people are never heard.

  • Mara Coote Freeman

    I agree with all points

  • David

    The long road, unless changed, will have the citizens eventually revolt and reject our lost democracy. It is the people that own this country, not political parties. Once a government becomes self serving and ignorant to why and who elected them then we too may have to take to the streets of this country and cry out for radical change and proper management of our affairs and close the tap on excessive taxing and spending with no accountability.

  • Jim

    Those are all good suggestions; I would add one additional one: outlaw all political parties. ALL MPs become Independents, responsible for representing their constituents, or, in the absence of constituent direction, thinking for themselves.

  • William Braden

    Elizabeth: the $90,000 payment to Mike Duffy is a gift and should be taxed. The remaining money will be significantly less than $90,000 after tax – not the amount that is or was really needed to get Mike out of the mess he was in. Unless. Unless there were some dealings at the time of cutting the cheque. I understand there were lawyers present at the time the decision was made to pay Mike and I wonder what their role was. After all it has been made out to be a personal gesture by the boy who wrote the cheque. I wonder if CRA was present either as CRA or in the person of one of the lawyers and I wonder if CRA has agreed not to insist that Mike pays the tax. There is a precedent of CRA’s looking the other way when a politico plays fast and loose – Brian Mulroney was let off pretty lightly when he accepted a large sum of money and didn’t declare it. The plot sickens.

  • Geoff Cliffe-Phillips

    I agree Canada’s ‘first past the post’ system is dysfunctional, creating serial minority dictatorships under our multi-party system.

    However, most proportional systems also risk giving even more power to party leadership, lead to weak or permanent minority governments (some might like this) and/or small fringe parties exercising undue influence – as in Israel.

    Canadian voters have shown in a couple of referendums some confusion and wariness over complicated proportional systems. That and some residual attachment to the idea of a local representative.

    Why not adopt the ‘French’ system (used in many countries) of a run off election a week or so later where candidates do not receive 50% of the vote. This maintains representative democracy and local control. Every elected official and government can claim some legitimacy as representing a true majority (better if you also had the Australian compulsory vote). It has the added advantage of knowing the preliminary results so that one can vote even more strategically than before the first election day – if that is your wish.

    The French system is rational (majority rule), simple to understand and maintains traditional political systems. It may be less favourable to the Green Party initially than proportional systems but not necessarily in the long run.

  • Les

    Our whole political party system is out of date. I have never seen a corporation where the CEO divides his staff and tells one group to agree with everything s/he proposes and tells the other group to disagree with everything. Yet, this is what our system is based on. Ludicrous. CEOs use their personnel in committees to advance the goals of the organization. Our government system need to adopt this style of cooperation. All properly elected representatives should be put on committees based on ability and who they represent and then all would be working – working, that is, for the good of our country.

  • Nachiko

    I admire your energy. I agree to all the recommendations but I am about to give up hope, the energy has to come from the bottom up, apathy of our regular citizens is a big problem too…….

  • R. Eaton

    Thanks for your thoughts – refreshing and to the point. Of all the cures I rate your first as most important. At minimum, let us have a voting process where the winner must have a 50% vote+1, easily accomplished with a preferential ballot.

  • Stefan

    #1 and 8 contradict each other… MPs in FPTP are meant to represenet their constituents – PR is meant to draw votes in larger voting districts and would elect MPs that could not directly represent their district as likely more than one candidate would be elected per district.

    Either way, most of these are wishes for the politically disenfranchised.

    The power of democracy lies within the people. Get up, stand up.

  • Al

    Yes, yes, yes!
    Well said. Let’s work toward it.

  • Sybilla

    ABSOLUTELY GREAT LIST, starting with PROPORTIONAL representation, just so every vote counts.
    And then, right, reduce Power and money of the prime Minister – and also make it ILLEGAL that Parliament can vote themselves INCREASES of salary and representation moneys while preaching cuts to every other service- including health and education, for God’s sake!!
    I agree with all of your points!!! Hope we can do something. WHere do we start??

  • cjulian

    Thank you Elizabeth for yet again articulating the escalating problems faced within our current governance structure and proposing a clear, logical vision for Canada.

    I am ashamed of Canada’s democratic unravelling. I am even more dismayed that so few speak up to oppose the contemptuous arrogance of the Conservative government. The Conservatives do what they want. If the rules get in the way they either change the rules or refuse to give straight answers to indicting questions (“no comment”; “minister unavailable for comment”; use bullying, deflecting tactics to attack the person or party asking the tough questions – in so doing they don’t answer the question; etc). Finally those sneaky conservatives know that in order to ram their controversial plans through without too much public opposition, they have to get rid of the facts, because the facts are inconvenient – so “off with your head” Stats Canada’s Long Form Sensus; Round Table on the Environment; Ocean’s and Fisheries Protection Act; arm’s length relationship with the CBC; scientific freedom to publish and speak publicly; arms length, effective Parliamentary Budget Officer; etc.

  • John Dunbar

    What’s the good of a great, intelligent, moral woman like this when she runs for office in a country composed essentially of morons. Despite her kind words about the voters, Canadians who rarely think in any depth about poltitics ( or anything else for that matter besides hockey and golf) will never elect her to anything more than her own seat. We prefer the lousy old British with all their anachronistic institution like the monarchy. To hell with this place !

  • Marg

    I have been wanting some form of proportional representation ever since I have known about it. My vote has hardly ever counted because I am centre left and have never been in a riding where it counted.

  • Stephen

    Stephen
    Well done, Elizabeth. What I’d like to see is how to make the changes come about. We can all agree with what plagues our political environment but what is needed is a specific plan to bring about change. That’s something I could sign up for ’cause I’m tired of all the noise about what is wrong without defining how to turn this sinking ship of state around..

  • Mike Steele

    Well-reasoned and well-said, Elizabeth. And, under the circumstances, far less acerbic than my own condemnation would have been. I have no desire to live in a country modelled on a private corporation where everything is dictated by the bottom line and the only values are monetary. Yet this is clearly the model the Conservatives have in mind. They are dismantling Canada while at the same time attempting to insert some sort of false jingoistic revisionist history to distract the masses. Shades of “1984″ and “Brave New World.” This is not my Canada and these people are not loyal Canadians. They’re toadies led by hatchet men with a dystopian agenda.

  • Sue Whelan

    Yours is the only sane voice I’ve heard since the Tories were first elected. Thank you for standing up for what you believe and the rights of Canadian. We need more people like you in politics.

  • Joe Lanteigne

    Dont forget to have some form of public support for candidates. This would diminish the clout that parties have over their MP s. Fund raising for political parties should be illegal too. Otherwise it is always the wealthy that are actually choosing the candidates and policy.

  • gwine

    Eliminating “first past the post” will only guarantee minority governments.

  • Bibi Nielsen

    My opinion is that there should be NO Privy Council! Canada is an aboriginal country and should have a group of Elders at our centre of government! They respect the land and community of peoples, and those are top priorities for citizens living on the land of Canada (Kanata- village). An entire upheaval of our government is needed! It’s not about profit, it’s about the people!!! Our great grandchildren may see a Canada that respects it’s land and trees and animals… But until then … WE have got a lot of work to do.

  • Bibi Nielsen

    Also, we have made so called “civilized” changes to our legislation through so many 100′s of years that its impossible to change just one thing to fix our government…. It’s something that needs to be reworked to make sense in our current times… It’s a call back to our roots… Before we started gutting and paving our poor planet Earth.

  • Cindy Silverwolf King

    Right on the mark, thanks Elizabeth!

  • Michael

    Repeat: Elizabeth for Prime Minister!!

  • bluemoonstarship

    How can we demand it if no one is listening and our elected officials have no power? Lead and I will follow, but the problem is finding the path now that we are so far down this rocky road and heading into a dead end. I wish that all of our politicians had your insight, common sense and dedication to Canada.

  • Susan Fleming

    YES YES YES! X8

  • emprice

    There are some very interesting reforms suggested here, though the operation of parties are governed by their respective constitutions so I don’t know how much success will be achieved on removing the signing authority of Leader’s for candidates papers or having caucuses trigger leadership votes…
    I do believe that would put authority in the hands of voters and elected party members rather than completely in the hands of the leader. I would vote for a system in my party for doing just that.

  • Sharon Ellis

    Proportional representation is the best idea yet. Make all elections publicly funded. Period. Make sure there are no machines involved; paper ballots only. It’s not foolproof, but you have to work harder. No robocalls. No corporate money in elections…the US has gone that way, and the country is heading for fascism; corporate power allied with the government. Keep the public sphere public; allowing the private sector to take over military functions, schools, firefighting, prisons, or policing is a really expensive disaster waiting to happen. If I wanted to live in the US, I would. I don’t. I don’t want our abortion rights taken away, I don’t want religion to blend with the state, and I don’t think that your religion should be able to determine my rights and what my child is taught. I would also very much like to see us take better care of the land and water. I want science to determine best practices. And yes, the tar sands project is contributing huge amounts to global warming. If we don’t smarten up, the rest of it isn’t going to matter. Time to get with it.

  • Adena

    I agree with what Elizabeth May says and would add that “Health Canada” should do what it should. If the health of Canadians is important, then why is genetically modified food grown in this country? The pesticides used are killing thousands of bees. Without bees pollination will be drastically curtailed: no seeds for fruit, vegetables or flowers, even trees. Granted seeds will be available at a cost, but not the seeds garnered from farmers’ own crops. Heaven help us!

  • http://freetobewealthy.net/ Doreen Agostino

    To
    fully potentialize Elizabeth May as Prime Minister of
    Canada requires a critical mass of Canadians to understand our
    shared dilemmas, unify, and transform broken systems including politics, into transparency, honesty,
    justice, equality, and coherence for our collective good.

    MEDIA:
    Glass ceiling of media control. Evidence of assault
    on every facet of life is distorted, withheld, denied or buried.

    INDEPENDENT MEDIA:
    Press For Truth TV http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ozvtTjcpnMQ&feature=youtu.be

    ECONOMICS:
    Manipulation.
    Tax and debt slavery with Paul Hellyer, former Defense Minister Canada
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GPC6cPoRVDI

    Confronting
    global financial powers in the Canadian federal court
    http://comer.org/index.htm

    Money as
    debt http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqvKjsIxT_8&feature=youtu.be

    HEALTH
    CARE: Treats symptoms for profit, instead of healing the root
    cause of dis-ease that leads to disease.

    ENVIRONMENT: Natural
    systems upon which all life depends for survival are being destroyed. Dr. Ervin
    Laszlo http://youtu.be/PP2bwmSxNv0

    SOCIETY:
    Human beings with unalienable rights have been deceived into
    ‘corporations’ whose remaining rights are rapidly disappearing.
    http://natural-person.ca

    Censorship
    is now drilling down into social networks and search engines, suppressing
    and limiting the sharing of information unveiled about world-wide corruption,
    deception, manipulation, and control.

    Foretold by
    indigenous cultures, and major religions
    world-wide, we are living prophetic times. The way out of incoherence created
    and allowed by each of us is together, with open minds and hearts, cooperation,
    collaboration, and courageous, peaceful action for our collective good.

  • Cherylyn

    These are all good ideas. Great ideas. Considering how the social media has changed the face of the Arab world, surely change should be possible here.

  • Brent Swain

    Its time we began questioning the constitutionality of the party whip, and began talking about how it violates the right of MPs freedom of speech and the right of his constituents to be represented. Its time to began talking about this constituional question in the house, in the media and started talking about a constitutional court challenge of this charter violation.
    How about it Elizabeth?

  • Doug Dent

    Very good overview assessment – a good majority of voter turnout is key and if the result requires a coalition, fine: so long as the focus is Parliament’s effort on behalf of the country as a whole. Return to the political contribution rules of before and reinstate the tax-funded support to parties. Re the issue of the Senate, I favour returning to the initial intent and purpose absent political/patronage appointments; no party-line controls; true independent members of the upper house. I would refer Canadians to former Sen Eugene Forsey (dec) – his writings, speeches, record.

  • disqus_mwzFKvUOmb

    Your words, passion and vision are a breath of fresh air in the pollution flowing out of the conservative government. I think your thoughts could also mirror much of what occurs at the provincial level of government, in terms of power grabbing by a few elitists directing government policy and MLA’s actions. Thank you for continuing to care about Canada, Canadians and the political future of this wonderful land.

    It must get frustratingly, oppressive even depressing to sit day after day through committee meetings and parliament, hearing outrageous lies posited as truth. My image is of you is courageously standing on a raft careening down a white water canyon, pole in hand guiding the raft through the treacherous waters. I see the whole of Canada’s future hanging onto your raft. The white water has been created artificially by those who control the dam. There must be many days when you wonder why you don’t just abandon ship and go home to peace and quiet.

    I believe you are our hope, along with the thousands (could it hopefully be millions) of Canadians who are beginning to wake up to what is happening. I think your continued education of those of us who read your web page and then forward it onto our own email lists is doing much to inform Canadians abput what is happening and what they must do. Other organizations then pick up your observations and viewpoints and disseminate to their members.

    Thank you so much for writing this clear and concise call to democracy. I know many people on my mailing list will say, “hear hear!” You are yeast in the bread dough of Canadian indifference as you present the truth behind the spin.

    Thank you for staying the course. I would love to see you as PM. Now that would put democracy back into Canadian politics.

  • pegeen

    This is impressive thinking. Thanks for making sense out of crucial and complicated issues, Elizabeth. Let’s just do these things because they’re right for a real democracy.

  • Chris Wood

    Here is a thought. If they can’t change the first past the post in the house, take the same results and use them to make the Senate proportional representation.

    I agree with everything you have said Elizabeth.

  • truthammer

    Elizabeth is right about the changes she suggested. However , the financial parasites that have infected our government will continue to gnaw away at our sovereignty and our hope for the future of Canada.

  • Hols

    Elizabeth’s messages are remarkably frank and demonstrate integrity rarely witnessed in politics. However, these messages have to reach a wider audience if she and the Green Party are going to make a difference in 2015 or she’s just preaching to the choir.

  • life goes on

    These ideas are the top. One has the sense that the PMO ignores the law, the constitution, the bill of rights, and parliament as it sees itself as supreme in the land. The Greens say well what has been so obvious for so long.

  • Ariadne

    I keep thinking that in this modern age we should have Live Voting, and no more elections. Live Voting works this way: you place a vote for whatever representative you wish. Whichever representative has the most support becomes a member of the government. You can withdraw, or change, your vote at the end of, say, every three months. This would encourage, I suspect, members of parliament to obey the wishes of their constituents rather than the dictates of Corporations and the Ruling Class, otherwise they could be out of government in as little as three months. Moreover, I think it necessary, especially with the present Conservatard government, for all prospective MPs to undergo a psychological evaluation, just like a lot of other job candidates, such that we may weed out those likely to commit serious crimes (such as Mr Harper who it is still widely worried is a sociopath). I also would like to see members of parliament lose their pensions if they are ever found guilty of fraud or any other crime committed by abuse of their government offices, even if that crime is not discovered until years later (and yes, they would have to repay all the pension monies including interest, and say “I’m sorry” to all Canadians on CBC). I expect the Conservatards and the Illiberals would be most upset by this since these groups comprise the largest concentration of criminals in Canada.

  • concerned grandmother

    We have schools but fail to educate our children in the things that matter most to their future freedom and prosperity. There are solutions to this.
    In the recent B.C. Provincial election the All Candidate’s meetings were held in the local High School during school hours, and students were able and encouraged to attend and participate. They could ask questions of the candidates along with the adults. They are too young to vote but not too young to know what matters, to think and to feel included and to feel that they matter.
    This made for a very lively and relevant All Candidates meeting at all levels. The young people heard not only the candidates, but the concerns of the public, and at the same time the candidates and adults heard the students’ concerns. This riding came very close to electing a Green candidate to the Legislature, and I think this inclusion of our young people was an important part of that. What the children learn and do affects their families. I think we also had the highest voter turn out in the province, certainly much higher than the national average.

    I would like to see proportional representation. I would also like to see an end to political ads., and only the political debates should be aired. Lobbying is a serious problem when the lobbyists outnumber the politicians 6 to 1, and billions of dollars are spent by the wealthy corporations and special interest groups to persuade M Ps to do their bidding. How can ordinary citizens’ needs be heard?
    And yes we would all be back in a democracy if Elizabeth May were Prime Minister, but at least we got her elected. Thank you Elizabeth, we really do need you.

  • Al

    I REALLY, REALLY hope you become prime minister someday! Please don’t give up…I look forward to these letters and this one, in particular, hit home for me. Thanks Elizabeth, I have total trust in your ability to lead as a thoughtful, reasonable and good (in the true sense of the word) citizen and public servant. And, frankly, you just make me feel better about what Canada could be. You’re a glowing firefly in a dark forest where great animals are disappearing and the rest are becoming diseased (and it feel like if Harper stays in power for much longer, all the great animals will be gone).

  • Cathy Churchill

    You speak with such great common sense. Thank you, thank you. I know I’m not the only person who is delighted with your thinking and that you express these ideas publicly.

  • Murray MacKenzie

    I am highly supportive of most of these comments. Democracy requires an ability to respectfully engage in give and take among our leaders. This ability seems to be increasingly rare. Murray MacKenzie

  • Barbara Berger

    We need to hear this clearly delineated position more widely. Do you think the newspapers would ever print such a piece! Of course not! It’s not in their interest!

  • prof2go

    Wasn’t it the Conservatives who were pushing for Senate Reform in the days of Preston Manning? What happened to that idea? There is an important lesson here on how power corrupts one’s ideological views. I recall a former NDP provinical premiere (now a liberal MP) who, on attaining power, enacted the most draconian bills that made a mockery of collective bargaining. Rae Days anyone?

    It is easy enough to pontificate from the sidelines and assume the moral promontory; however, the real challenge for any politician, regardless of their stripes, is to balance the spirit of their ideology with the realities of running a very large and complex country with many divergent agendas. What MP May points out is that, ideally, government should seek to provide a voice to all those parties, however, in the interest of avoiding being ground to a screeching halt, decisions need to be made that will inevitably be incapable of addressing all needs. So the question becomes, whose needs does one serve?
    In the age of social media we could involve ourselves (if we all have access to computers and the internet) and hold endless numbers of plebiscites on every issue great and small but few of us have the time nor the inclination, it would seem, to fill out an AVAAZ petition, or vote let alone participate in direct democracy.
    I can well understand Churchill’s sentiments in this light.
    I am reminded of a Monty Python sketch where the British people moved to a form of direct democracy whose demands for their participation in debates and votes became so onerous that they eventually embraced the notion of electing a benign dictator which also reminds me of the adage: “You get the government you deserve.”
    Despondent…yes, Cynical…Yes, Hopeful…Yes!
    I hope that more people get behind some of the ideas presented here. Some of them certainly got western conservatives very excited about 20+years ago. Perhaps this idea in the hands of Elizabeth May, may well get some real traction.
    Best of Luck in the next act!

  • Taff

    Of course, it remains to be said, that if those sensible and appropriate prescriptions listed by Elizabeth cannot take place because we are oppressed by a monster, then something more drastic is required to restore working democracy in this country.

  • VR

    I fully endorse all your suggestions Elizabeth! It would be a relief to get back on track with positive reforms to take back democracy and to feel that we as citizens are truly represented by our elected officials. However, how do we get there before the face of Canada is changed too much to go back? Two more years after six in office is a long time and so much of what I hold dear as a Canadian is trickling away; social policies that recognise that all are not born with equal access, environmental policy that recognises the short and long term damage we are doing to the planet that sustains us, real democracy that allows for those other than only the PMO to guide how Canada moves forward into the 21st century, status overseas as a respected, fair and objective voice on world issues, humane treatment of all citizens without resorting to very punitive measures which promote more discord. Canada used to have a healthy personality that, despite changing governments, respected the core of Canadian values. What I see now is a country that is a shadow of our large neighbour that embraces the culture of the corporation and global divisive policies, a country that is forgetting what makes it unique and special. Getting back on track may be very like trying to undo the damage wrought by the tar sands in Alberta. I hope I am wrong!

  • Hermunster

    Hi: I would end the money systems of the world and move to a resource based way of running our little planet, thus ending the need for most all stupid political games. Science and common sense would rule the day instead of greed.
    Definitely not an easy transition to make now that our world is so screwed up up,
    but just maybe still possible.

    I have heard the same old political dribble for the passed 60 yrs. and a real change in the way the world does business has to come soon or man is in real big do do. We are done if we continue to let Xeon, Monsonto and Wallmart etc. run the show. Wake up World!!
    Larry

  • lotusland9663

    Unfortunately all politicians are idealistic and want change until they get into power. Then it’s the status quo because they get hooked on the power and privilege that heading a government brings. We’ve heard this same refrain from every politician who’s not in power- too bad none of them really mean it. There are some serious problems in government that need changing but will never happen and the Canadian taxpayers pay the price.

  • scottyb

    Excellent polemic!!!!

  • Jordan

    Enlightening to say the least! And the more I learn, the sicker I become at the state of our so-called democracy. My question is how do we achieve the initial reform (proportional representation) in a system bent on maintaining itself?

  • miriam ferstman

    I am with you on every one of your comments/suggestions…..Now – how do we go about implementing a return to these very basic and absolutely necessary aspects of how we elect and how we are governed.
    I have voted ever since 1938 when I truned 18 and considered it a solemn duty as a citizen in a democracy….Maybe it was the times…pre WW2 and the heightened awareness of what could be lost if we did not pay attention to our potential leaders.
    I have never lost sight of that aspect of what it could mean….Now I question what is being taught or not taught in schools…we do not seem to have a lot of “teaching” coming out of current family situations – and a lot more comes through to younger people via the electronic media . At the local level we are experiencing such a lack of moral standards and misuse of power — but therein perhaps lies the opportunity to encourage everyone to get more involved – right there at the local level—where it is so immediate and visible. …a great place to start. Any comments on this ???????????????? —

  • pjmacdonald

    First Past The Pole has to be scrapped. In any election, if the winner doesn’t get 50% of the votes, then there should be a run-off between the top two candidates Better still, with all the technology available, maybe it’s time to re-examine Direct Democracy, or, along with your vote, you get to prioritize issues where money should be concentrated. I wonder how many of our citizens would rather money go to the hungry and/or homeless instead of a useless war on marijuana. Also, there must be an elected Senate and party leaders must not have final say on who is allowed to represent their party.

  • chartliner

    We need real democracy, no life time politicians that write laws putting themselves above the people that elected them with bloated salaries, pensions and benefits. Term limits are needed.

    Outlaw borrowing money by politicians, Canada now has a 600+Billion Dollar debt as well as large provincial debts, did the public approve of all this? It is the legacy of Karl Marx.

    Eliminate Income Tax which impedes capital formation needed to start and grow business which is the real wealth producer not government. Capital can also be used for buying a home. Economist Martin Armstrong did a study showing government would actually get more money by eliminating income tax and replacing it with sales tax and a small property transfer tax.

  • Timothy John Kenney

    Dear , Honorable , Elizabeth May , My name is , Timothy John Kenney , in , Claresholm,AB , Canada , since 2011 have not taken down your , Green Party signs ….

    • http://www.elizabethmaymp.ca/ Craig Cantin

      Dear Timothy,

      I’m so sorry to hear that!!

      Could you send your contact information to info@greenparty.ca?

  • Alex.Saarvala

    I am happy about you are speaking about our rotten system which only seem to know how to spend our hard earned tax dollars and directed to their cronies.

  • kathy leveque

    Excellent Article Elizabeth. Now, How can you get this all done and how can we as ordinary voters help?

  • chartliner

    What Elizabeth May refers to as Democracy in Canada is not Democracy it is Re-republicanism, where someone is elected to re-present their constituents views. Well obviously that has not worked out too well, with a 614 billion dollar debt while politicians and bureaucrats have looked after themselves with bloated salaries and pensions far above what the taxpayers who elected them get. The main people the politicians re-present is themselves!

    Why did Pierre Elliot Trudeau move Canada from having a public debt
    (printed money from the Bank of Canada) to borrowing money from private
    banks and issuing bonds (money) that pay interest?

    This was essentially a criminal act, there was never any referendum of
    Canadian taxpayers that agreed to let the government start borrowing
    money from banks and investors. Approximately 70% of the 600+ Billion
    dollar federal debt is from compounding interest. If they had just
    printed the money from the Bank of Canada we would only have a 200
    billion dollar excess currency in circulation instead of this monstrous
    600 billion debt that is compounding and threatening to destroy our
    civilization.

    The whole mess was started by the Liberals, a bunch of lawyers who know
    how to pass laws and spend money but cannot run a business, no business
    can just pile up debt with no intention of paying anything back and
    neither can a country, it just takes longer for a country to finally go
    bankrupt. With interest rates at record lows now there is great danger
    that as rates swing back up (like a pendulum that has built up momentum)
    Canada’s debt service charges will become overwhelming, taking from
    vital government services, just when the demand for those services will
    be rising as the baby boomers retire. Currently 11% of tax dollars are
    going to service the debt as interest rates rise that number could
    double, triple or worse until the system collapses. Government cannot
    continue to raise taxes and inhibit the productive members of society
    from creating wealth so that the capital can be wasted on debt and
    overpaid civil servants, including Pierre Trudeau’s offspring Justin who
    has now moved up to the trough.

    The solution as detailed by Economist Martin Armstrong is:

    1) Stop all payments to the bondholders and issue local spending credits
    (probably based on the 200 billion initial loans, not the compounding
    level of 600 billion since Canadian taxpayers did not vote or approve
    these loans.

    2) Make it illegal for politicians to borrow money

    3) Term limits (one term) for all politicians at all levels of
    government. A permanent privileged class of politicians that get used to
    having far more money than most Canadians must not be allowed as this
    makes then out of touch with the problems that the taxpayers who elected
    them have. It should be an honour to serve your country not a way to
    get rich. Canadian business people with strong experience in running
    businesses efficiently should be encouraged to step forward and give 1
    term of service to running the country (this principle should apply to
    all levels of government).

    4) Change all pensions and pay levels for politicians and public
    servants retro-actively to be more in line with private pensions,
    amounts given out are to be based on number of years served just as in
    the private world. The average federal civil servant total cost
    according to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation is over $114,000 dollars
    per year, this is far above what most Canadians get and is not right.

    5) Eliminate the Income Tax and replace it with a sales tax and small
    property transfer tax. Mr. Armstrong did a study showing government
    would actually get more money if this was done. Income tax inhibits the
    formation of capital required by business to expand and hire more
    people. This would also help working Canadians save for buying house or a
    business. It is better to let those who know how to create wealth
    direct the money instead of government bureaucrats wasting a great deal
    of tax dollars. Government in Canada now gets a total of 43% of
    Canadian’s income according to the Fraser Institute, this is way too
    much and a great deal of it is going to those at the top, not the poor.

    Prime Minister Harper and his gang are no different than the Liberals or
    NDP, these politicians set themselves above everyday taxpayers and
    above all are more concerned with their own power and money than the
    concerns of working Canadians.

    The tragedy of a debt crisis is that the people at the bottom, the poor
    people are the ones that get hurt the most, it is always government’s
    duty to help those who cannot help themselves.

    Martin Armstrong and his AI supercomputer model predicted the world-wide
    debt crisis we are in now back in the 1980′s when he warned the Reagan
    administration of the dangers of compounding interest but was ignored.
    Europe and Japan are predicted to collapse followed by the core economy
    the United States between 2016-2020, the debt party started by FDR in
    the 1930′s will end, Socialism will collapse as its big brother
    Communism did in 1989 as was predicted by Armstrong’s computer, it was
    after this that the CIA took notice and requested a copy of Armstrong’s
    model. In Armstrong’s view Karl Marx is the most influential economist
    of our time and has given legitimacy to western governments to intervene
    heavily in the economy with no intention or long term plan of every
    paying anything back.

    I believe we need a new political party, the Taxpayers Party to set
    things right. My letters to Harper and his finance minister have been
    ignored.

    Read more from Economist Martin Armstrong here… http://armstrongeconomics.com/sovereign-debt-crisis/ (http://armstrongeconomics.com/sovereign-debt-crisis/)

    Russ Browne

  • Martin Spacek

    I’d say your last point, #8, is by far the most important. A diverse group of independent MPs is far harder to coerce, co-opt and cajole than a handful of parties consisting of monocultured MPs. MP independence is the heart of democracy, and we have virtually none of it left.

    I want official political parties to be abolished altogether. How else can you level the playing field for all MP candidates during an election? Today, attaching oneself to a a party is the main source of election money and visibility for a candidate. Those who don’t, because they do not wish to toe the party line later on if they win the job, face bleak prospects. Political parties also make voting time far too simplistic for voters. Why read up on all you local candidates, their detailed positions and history, when you can just vote, blindly, by party association?

    Point #1 is flawed. Turnout, unfortunately, is not a function of voting system. Ask Australia, NZ, Israel, and all the rest that have tried the PR experiment. AFAIK, they all continue to face record low turnouts. Tinkering with voting systems is an attempt to fix the wrong thing, and only leads to distraction from more substantial issues. That said, I’ve long been in favour of a minor tweak to our current FPTP system: ranked voting, as executed in the latest NDP and Liberal leadership races. That could conceivably help real or perceived issues of vote splitting, and perhaps turnout. Though I have yet to find any evidence for either.

  • http://freetobewealthy.net/ Doreen Agostino

    The EU Trade Agreement, UN Agenda 21, Nuclearized NAFTA Trans-Pacific Partnership, assault on humans, and Earth, compel us to realize it matters not who is elected, including the Prime Minister of Canada, because the world system is rigged, corrupt, and built to serve few at the expense of many. http://opednews.com/articles/The-Trans-Pacific-Partners-by-Jim-Hightower-130814-411.html

    CANADA is the guinea pig, before the USA, and one country after
    another, surrender citizens to one world government. PREVENT the
    international banking cartel from winning their 40 year war against self
    government, and from imposing a diabolical brand of debt slavery on all!

    Message from Hon. Paul Hellyer, former Minister of Defence, Canada.

    The Canadian government is about to sign a treaty with the European Union that is almost certainly:

    (a) Unconstitutional

    (b) Irresponsible

    (c) Immoral

    It would compromise the federal parliament’s exclusive jurisdiction over money and banking, and provide the private bankers with a de facto veto of any creative plans Canada might develop to end the recession, and bring back prosperity.

    In effect we would not be able to do anything comparable to what was done in 1939 when the Bank of Canada began providing the federal government with large sums of near zero cost money that was spent into circulation to get us out of the Great Depression, and help finance World War II. Later it helped fund the great post-war infrastructure including the St. Lawrence Seaway, the Trans Canada Highway and many other major projects as well as our social security system. It was a deal that worked like a charm and gave us the best years of the twentieth century until 1974.

    Unfortunately, at that time, the Bank of Canada unilaterally turned its back on us, its owners, and started taking its orders from the Bank for International Settlements that decided central banks should no longer provide governments with low cost money. It has been downhill ever since.

    There is no hope for either Canada nor the world, unless we adopt a system something like the one we had from 1939 to 1974. To give away our constitutional right to do something equally innovative now or in the future would be treasonous and must be stopped.

    First, watch former Defence Minister Paul Hellyer explain the nature of the proposed treason in this video http://youtu.be/wEOU0Kc3T1Q

    Then e-mail the Canadian Prime Minister at stephen.harper@parl.gc.ca or, better still, write him a letter and send it to:

    The Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper, PC, MP, House of Commons. Ottawa. ON, K1A 0A6 and demand that he eliminate all financial conditions from the treaty before it is signed.

    Sponsored by the Committee on Monetary and Economic Reform [COMER] and Jerry Ackerman, PhD, Ann Emmett, Connie Fogal, and Hon. Paul Hellyer, plaintiffs. 83 Oakwood Ave, Toronto, ON, Canada, M6H 2V9

    PayPal button to support COMER has been installed at http://www.victoryfortheworld.net/

  • J C

    Our democracy could be strengthened by way of senate reform were senators are replaced by citizen panels acting much like a jury and drawn randomly in similar manner to jury selection.
    A new panel could be drawn for each piece of legislation and the drawing would ensure equal representation from each province.

    The acting government would have to take each case before the people for final approval.

  • maple

    Elizabeth May – I would hope that when you are Prime Minister you will change the following. It is sad that our Canadian governments, past and present, offer higher tax credits for political contributions. If I donate any amount of money to the Terry Fox Foundation, Heart and Stroke Fund, or any registered charitable organization my tax credit is approximately 35% of the donation, however, if I donate money in excess of $400.00 to a Political Party my tax credit is 75 %. The priorities are skewed! In my opinion, those people giving to organization that are trying to make a difference in the lives of the sick, poor, hungry, etc. should receive a higher tax credit.
    Also, Ms. May, I have a small parcel of wood land (woodlot) and the tax base is a pittance compared to my residential rate. I’ve wondered for years why this is? It is my opinion that it seems that Big Business who usually own thousand to millions of acres of woodland/resource land get the bigger break on taxes.

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