COLIN CORNEAU/BRANDON SUN
Green Party of Canada Leader Elizabeth May speaks to a Brandon University audience during a day of appearances in the city on Wednesday afternoon.
Green Party of Canada leader Elizabeth May stopped in Brandon yesterday as part of her Save Democracy from Politics Tour.
May spoke to approximately 40 supporters at a fundraising luncheon at Lady of the Lake before addressing a crowd of 60 to 70 people at Brandon University.
The speaking engagements, which also included a town hall forum last night following the party’s nomination meeting at the Park Community Centre, is designed to spark interest and incite "vital reform" in Canadian politics.
One of the main planks in the two-decade old party’s platform is electoral reform — more specifically changing the current system from first past the post to proportional representation.
"We have a voting system that is dysfunctional and it’s the biggest reason why people choose not to vote," May said. "If we got rid of first past the post we would communicate to every voter that their vote matters."
In 2011, the Greens capturing just one seat — in May’s riding of Saanich-Gulf Islands in B.C. — in a system that relies on one candidate winning one riding by getting more votes than any other challenger.
In comparison, in a proportional representation system the Greens would currently hold 12 of the 308 total seats based on the party wining 3.91 per cent of the popular vote.
May said in many "safe ridings," where it is a foregone conclusion which party will win the election, many voters choose to stay home and feel disenfranchised by the current system.
Brandon-Souris has long been considered one of those safe ridings. In recent memory, only once has it been turned from a Tory stronghold when Liberal Glen McKinnon won the seat in 1993.
But after what May calls "a mess" in the Conservative Party of Canada’s nomination process, she feels the seat is up for grabs.
After a hotly contested byelection in Calgary that saw the Greens finish third, only 3,100 votes behind the eventual Conservative winner, May believes the party is making inroads on the Prairies.
Canadians are tired of wedge issues, designed to exploit tension, dominating the political discussion, according to May.
"Stephen Harper is a brilliant, political manipulator who has done an excellent job at getting and retaining power, but it has come at a cost to our democracy," May said. "It’s all about avoiding consensus and creating divisions for the short-term benefit of the party at the long-term cost to Canada’s well-being."
May said only she, former Conservative MP Brent Rathgeber and former NDP MP Bruce Hyer — both who now sit as independents —truly represent the views and concerns of their constituents.
"All the other MPs are instructed how to vote," she said.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 10, 2013