The one-party province

It’s hard to take anything Stephen Harper says about democratic reform seriously when he boasts that Alberta will be awash in a sea of blue, drowning out any representation by dissenting voices.

There’s no doubt it’s the Conservative heartland, receiving just over over 60% of the popular vote in the 2004 election. And I certainly wouldn’t expect Harper to embrace any progressive notions such as proportional representation, which would radically propose that their 60% support should translate into roughly 60% of the seats. No, he wants it all, and could very well get it all this go round.

I of course expect the Conservatives to try and will all the seats they can, and there is no doubt that unseating the Deputy Prime Minister would be a significant victory. But to boast that they are going clear away the meagre remaining opposition goes beyond wishing Conservative success, it takes delight in the inequalities inherent in our voting system. These are the words of a man concerned not with democracy, but with power.

It may be easy to dismiss this as sour grapes coming from electoral losers, and certainly the Liberals are worse offenders in the realm of electoral reform. Even Layton, with all the capital he had to spend in the last Parliament, didn’t press the one issue that could fundamentally change the system which determines how all other issues are decided.

“Our voting system is broken. It’s time for a rebirth of our democracy,” Layton said in 2004, in a speech which indicated NDP support of a minority government would hinge on this issue. With luck, this time he’ll get a do-over. If he drops this ball again, who knows when the chance will come again.


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