Former Liberal leader Stephane Dion was the keynote speaker at the bi-annual Green Party convention August 17 through 19. It marks the first time a member of one political party has addressed the gathered members of another.
Dion was there to talk about ways to improve Canada’s democratic system. The Green Party is pushing for Proportional Representation rather than the current First-Past-The-Post system in which an MP can be elected without a majority of the vote. The NDP also has electoral reform as part of their platform.
This is not the first time Dion and Green Party Leader Elizabeth May have come together in the name of democracy. While Liberal leader, Dion agreed not to run a candidate in Central Nova so that Liberal votes might go to May as she was trying to win a Green seat. The ploy didn’t work, Peter MacKay won the riding handily, and the next election, Michael Ignatieff’s Liberals refused to do the same for May. She won her seat in Saanich anyway, defeating former Cabinet minister Gary Lunn.
Some provinces have studied the move towards a new electoral system, with two referendums in BC, one in Ontario and one in Prince Edward Island. Each province has rejected any changes and most experts say that there will be no change at the federal level until a new system is tested at the provincial level.
Also, the current Conservative majority government has no interest in changing the current system.
Bruce Hyer, an independent MP who was elected as a New Democrat, also spoke at the convention. He told the gathered Greens that there are issues that just need to be put ahead of party politics. Hyer introduced a private member’s bill that would allow for cross-party sponsorship of legislation.
For her part, May pointed to the way Canada’s system was actually designed, with Members of Parliament meant to be elected to serve their constituents and not their party.
Photo Credit: Tania Liu