Green Party leader has peculiar notions of what is "anti-democratic"
According to Green Party leader Elizabeth May, Canadians suffer from a "collective amnesia". Often enough, she's oddly correct -- but in ways that are ironically lost on her.
Her recent book Losing Confidence continues to gain traction in the news media, as various outlets continue to weigh her claims that Canadian democracy is in some kind of trouble.
Yet Elizabeth May herself indulges herself in politically-motivated forgetfulness. She forgets that it was the Canadian citizenry that rejected the coalition. She also forgets that Canadian citizens have different expectations about government than countries where coalition governments are commonplace.
Elizabeth May's biggest problem is that she continues to evaluate Canadian democracy against various European counterpart -- Germany may be the most pertinent example -- without ever taking into account that Canada's political culture and, with it, citizens' expectations of democracy.
"Never in the history of modern parliamentary democracy anywhere in the world had a prime minister sought to shut down the government to avoid losing a confidence vote," she writes.
May continues to complain that she feels the progrogation of Parliament was "breathtakingly anti-democratic".
Yet a clear majority of Canadians had already rejected the proposed Liberal/NDP coalition government. The option of an election -- the traditional political route after a minority Parliament's defeat -- was an election, not the coalition, which was supported by just over a third of Canadians.
Yet an election had just taken place weeks previous. And considering the levels of support the Conservatives enjoyed immediately following the coalition proposal -- careening into majority government territory -- it's unlikely that May would have supported an election.
On that note it's hard to overlook the extent to which May is being politically self-indulgent. As Tom Flanagan noted in a Globe and Mail column, Canadian political culture demands that Canadians decide the government, not the Governor General.
If the Liberals and NDP had run on a coalition government during the 2008 federal election, that would be one thing entirely. But then-Liberal leader Stephane Dion had explicitly ruled that prospect out during the election. So to step up after the election and take the first opportunity to attempt to supplant the government with a coalition that had previously been treated as out of the question was another thing entirely.
Canadians should also never forget that the precipitating event for this coalition was a government move to cut subsidies for political parties. At a time of fiscal crisis, this was the right move to make, but the Liberals, NDP and Bloc Quebecois (whom may describes simply as "democratically elected" without mentioning the contextual fact that their purpose is to separate Quebec from the rest of the country) wouldn't stand for the revokation of their entitlements.
Never before, in a democratic state, has an appointed official been called upon to make a decision on whether or not to replace the duly-elected government with a political monstrosity so out-of-step with the citizens' expectations of democracy.
May's attitude clearly indicates that she believes democracy is something to be managed by elites. The rules set clearly advantage elites in decisions regarding who will and will not govern. If Michaelle Jean had been less respectful of Canada's political culture, Elizabeth May could very well have gotten her way -- and an unstable coalition replete with the Canadian government mortgaged to a separatist party founded on a racial ideology.
Only in the mind of a virulently fervent ideologue could such an option, evaulated according to the entirety of its significance, seem appealing. Especially when one considers that it would undermine Canada's citizen-oriented political culture.
Oddly enough, May forgets that her party has no leadership review process. Although rumblings continue that the rank-and-file Green Party membership has no confidence in Elizabeth May's leadership -- and really, who could blame them? -- May continues to enjoy a very comfortable position her party.
But only because the party's rules allow for this -- not because of the democratic will of her party membership.
To Elizabeth May, only the formal rules matter. That's the biggest difference between May and Governor General Michaelle Jean -- Jean understands that the democratic will of the people matter, and May does not.
It's a good reason why Michaelle Jean deserves an opportunity to utilize her talents beyond the meagre venue of the Governor General's office, and Elizabeth May doesn't deserve to ever be elected.