Focusing on Proportional Representation Offers a Glimmer of Hope for Canada's 'Progressives'

Results if Canada had the proportional representation system already adopted by 83 countries in the world.

There is a glimmer of hope on the political horizon up here in the Great White North because Green Party Leader Elizabeth May is actively trying to broker progressive co-operation talks in Ottawa. The central theme of her attempt, and the focus of her recent letter to all the NDP MPs, is the issue of 'proportional representation'. Proportional representation isn't a wild unworkable theory, it's a reality in 83 countries including Australia, Japan, Norway, India and Israel all of which share certain different political characteristics with Canada.

One of the headlines from yesterday's Liberal leadership debate in Vancouver was that Joyce Murray was the only candidate to clearly state her support for electoral co-operation and that the odds-on favorite Justin Trudeau absolutely ruled out co-operation with the NDP. What wasn't widely mentioned is that Trudeau did clearly say that he supported proportional representation.

The NDP's leader Tom Mulcair likewise refused to support any type of co-operation with the Liberals in his recent leadership run. But in answering May's letter did stress the NDP's long history of championing proportional representation. Of course, neither of these two parties can publicly endorse any co-operation scheme because they'd be crucified by the Harper propaganda machine and they'd see many of their own party faithful openly revolt. This was exactly the same situation before the Progressive Conservatives and the Canadian Alliance Party merged.

Remember when Peter MacKay signed a written deal to seal support from David Orchard's largely loyal delegates that secured his victory on the final ballot of the last PC leadership race?. The deal promised a review of the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, no joint candidates with the Canadian Alliance, and a promise to redouble efforts to rebuild the national status of the Progressive Conservative Party. Almost immediately McKay walked away from his written agreement and announced a merger with the Harper's far-right Alliance Party. McKay and Harper like Trudeau and Mulcair are professional liars-oops, politicians-Elizabeth May isn't, but apparently she is an intelligent adult type human, something obviously in short supply in Ottawa.

Back to the NDP's part in this hopeful scenerio for a second. During their leadership race last year Nathan Cullen was the one and only candidate who was in favour or cooperation. Mulcair, after winning could have assigned Cullen to the scrap heap but he didn't, instead he made Cullen the NDP's House Leader-2nd in command really-symbolically supporting Cullen's ideas.

The long history of animosity and the honest philosophical differences between the NDP and the Liberals make a merger almost impossible. As long as this stalemate remains all the Harperites have to do is sit back and keep 37%-40% of the consumer class with enough rope so they can continue borrowing and consuming their way to madness which thereby keeps the Conservatives corporate backers happy and keeps the mordida rolling in.

Finally, Elizabeth May's letter, though not made public, said that she is trying to establish links of trust with people in other parties and that the Green Party is fully committed to finding ways to cooperate before the next election with any party that’s prepared to work with them to get past the first-past-the post [election system]. Here, in the common support of proportional representation as the best tool for involving the 40% of Canadians who abstain from voting, for establishing a truly democratic national government that represents the philosophy's of all her citizens, is that glimmer of hope.