December 6, 2013 Sections
Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
Green party Leader Elizabeth May says what happened in the Tory nomination process in Brandon-Souris is a symptom of how Canadian democracy has been hijacked.
"What a shemozzle," she told the Free Press today. "It’s quite shocking to see what started out as the Reform Party has become."
That Tory nomination process saw the Conservative Party of Canada disqualify former MP Merv Tweed staffer Chris Kennedy and Brandon Coun. Len Isleifson from vying for the party’s nomination because of incomplete paperwork.
That left Arthur-Virden MLA Larry Maguire the acclaimed candidate. Many, even dyed-in-the-wool Tories, believe the Conservative backroom intervened to see Kennedy and Isleifson out of the running.
"People are shocked that it appears that somehow two candidates filed their paperwork wrong," May said. "This kind of stinks to high heaven. If this is an example of democracy under the Conservative party, God help them."
May is in Winnipeg today and Brandon Wednesday as part of her national tour Save Democracy From Politics.
She speaks tonight at Broadway Disciples United Church, 396 Broadway, in Winnipeg. Doors open at 7 p.m.
May also said excessive, centralized power in the Prime Minister’s Office undermines the supremacy of Parliament. Prime Minister Stephen Harper, didn’t create it — he’s only taken it to a new level as will the next person who follows him.
More so, MPs are more beholden to their party than constituents, she said, adding the same situation is mirrored in provincial governments.
"People don’t know how bad it is. When you say every single MP is told how to vote, if they’re Conservative, Liberal, NDP or Bloc, they are told how to vote every single time. And people say, ‘Why? How can they do that? What happens if they don’t do it?’ And then I say, ‘Well, they’re punished.’
"MLAs are treated that they must do what they are told, walk the talk and use cue cards and scripts prepared by other people. That’s not right. The pattern of the loss of democracy at the federal level is mirrored in provincial legislatures across Canada."
May said more Canadians need to become educated about how government actually works and make it an issue in the 2015 federal campaign.
"We need Canadians to know about it. We need to reduce the power in the Prime Minister’s Office and we need to restore cabinet governance. We need to not withhold information from parliamentarians they’re supposed to have and we need to reduce this excessive partisanship.
"We do not want mindless partisanship to take over and strangle the life out of democracy. It’s not part of our fundamental tradition to have ourselves organized along party lines and have this mindless cheering for one side versus the other without thinking."