Freedom Party Media Release: Election Highlights Two Major Flaws in Canada's Electoral System
October 15, 2008 by Paul McKeever
Freedom Party of Canada leader, Paul McKeever, is calling upon the Harper government to introduce a new 155 candidate rule for inclusion in televised leaders debates and to repeal the federal political party allowance.
“If this election tells us anything, it is that at least two structural flaws are undermining the democratic process in Canada, and the unity of Canada”, says McKeever.
“First, a scandal like that surrounding the exclusion, then inclusion, of Elizabeth May in the televised leadership debates undermines Canada’s reputation as a democracy, and must not be repeated. So long as the government insists upon owning and controlling all broadcasting capacity in the country, it must lay down an unambiguous, unequivocal standard for inclusion or exclusion in the televised leaders debate. No “consortium” of companies having both taxpayer funding and state-granted protection from competition should have any power to set ever-shifting criteria for inclusion in the televised leaders debate. No party should have the power to prevent the inclusion of competitor parties. No party leader should have to stoop to smearing other party leaders with false allegations of sexism in order to shoe-horn her way into the debate. All such things undermine further our respect for politicians and government in general.
“The leaders debate is a debate not only about the direction of the elected legislative branch, but about the intended direction of the unelected executive branch, which is led by a Prime Minister. Therefore, it should be a debate amongst potential Prime Ministers; a debate not merely amongst party leaders, but amongst potential leaders of the country. Canadians should never again have to face the embarrassing farce of a debate in which one of the debaters exclaims: “I know I won’t be Prime Minister…”.
“Under Canada’s constitutional conventions, it is certain that a party leader will be appointed Prime Minister only when his or her party holds a majority of seats. Therefore, if the criterion for inclusion in the leaders debate is to be unambiguous and unequivocal, the criterion should be one based upon the potential to hold a majority of seats. To avoid the sort of bias that plagues the current system, the assessment of that potential must not be left to an ad hoc, ever-changing, entirely malleable consideration of which statistics are relevant, from election to election. Instead, the answer is to exclude from the debate only those party leaders whose parties fail to field candidates in at least 50% + 1 of Canada’s electoral districts. In a country as geographically vast as Canada, running candidates in 50%+1 ridings is an extremely difficult task, requiring considerable resources and popular support, so such a criterion would not lead to an overcrowded stage. To the contrary, it might shrink the number of people who are included.
“Second, it should be clear and obvious to anyone who is paying attention that a tax-funded annual allowance for political parties is not only a violation of Canadians’ freedom of association, but is also skewing electoral outcomes. For example, the Bloc Quebecois annually receives barely enough voluntary contributions to pay the $1,000.00 candidate deposit required of each of its 75 candidates: there is little voluntary support for Quebec’s secessionists. Yet, Canadians from every province and territory are forced to contribute, collectively, about $3,000,000.00 per year to the Bloc Quebecois. Without that money, the secessionists would have hardly a penny to spend on the promotion of Quebec secession: no election signs, no commercials, no tour bus. When we consider that secession is not fiscally viable except with the forced contributions of non-secessionists throughout Canada, it is scandalous not to repeal the political party allowance without further delay and, in any event, prior to the next election”.