Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Elizabeth May Should DEFINITELY Not Be In Debates, By Her Own Logic

La Presse has a story that the other parties will leave it up to the TV consortium to decide if Elizabeth May gets to be in the TV debates. Back in 2008, I took a principled position in favour of May's inclusion. And now, on the basis of those same principles, I ABSOLUTELY CATEGORICALLY OPPOSE MAY'S INCLUSION, AS THINGS STAND, IE. NO GREEN MP IN HOUSE OF COMMONS. If she can get some MP, Guergis?, Arthur?, to declare her or himself a Green, then fine. But our system, as May has gone on about at great length, herself, many times, is a parliamentary democracy: it's all about MPs. MPs are the source of all legitimacy (hence her switch to Saanich). And if you have not at least one MP in the House of Commons, by May's own logic, you do not deserve to be given a seat at the table of the political leaders debating the future of the country. The criteria were already minimalist, some measure of popular support (5%?)  and at least one MP. But no MP, no debate. Otherwise, why 5%? Why not 4.5, or 4, or 3.5, or 3, or..and the Natural Law Party will be in the debates then. All these Greens, all these people, who have spoken so frequently and passionately about our democracy, parliamentary democracy, have to be coherent. If parliamentary democracy and our institutions are so important, then that logic dictates one must have AT LEAST one MP to be able to participate in the debates. That should be the Greens' own position, if they are indeed the principled party they claim, and given how they trumpeted former Liberal MP Blair Wilson's switch to them in 2008 to justify their inclusion in debates, that is the position they have already maintained in fact. Anything else makes a mockery of their own logic, of our parliamentary democracy, and of the debates themselves, which are already overloaded with debaters, for legitimate reasons, but still, overloaded.

Every bit of my logic from 2008 now argues against May being in the 2011 debates. One must have principles, and be coherent:
British parliamentary democracy being what it is, it's about citizens in given riding(s) choosing MP(s). ... Since in our tradition it's all about the MPs, could require only parties with official party status in parliament to debate - but NDP & PC were in debates in 1997, quite apart from Bloc & Reform in 1993. Instinctively feels wrong to ban party with support like NDP or PC, percentage of vote in previous election similar to regional parties Reform & Bloc, and with MPs, but no official status. So, at end of day, most restrictive possibility is 5% minimum and MP elected under party banner. ... Conclusion: need at least one MP (since official party status deemed too strict in past). And need to be more than fringe - have some sense party represents genuinely significant portion of public. I'd support 5% in last election & at least 1 MP. ... Anyway, given Canadian precedent, no reason to keep Greens out of debates this time. And if do, should be on basis of 5% and possibly "elected under banner" criteria, and should make that explicit new rule. But since that's unlikely, Greens should be in.
And by that very logic, since they have not a single MP, this time, the Greens should be out. And the Greens themselves should be the first to say so, by their own logic.

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