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Losing Confidence: Power, Politics and the Crisis in Canadian Democracy (2009)

por Elizabeth May

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2131,063,110 (3.63)5
A ringing manifesto for change from Canada’s Green Party leader and Activist. We Canadians are waking up from our long political slumber to realize that there will not be change unless we insist upon it. We have a presidential-style prime minister without the checks and balances of either the US or the Canadian systems. Attack ads run constantly, backbenchers and cabinet ministers alike are muzzled, committees are deadlocked, and civility has disappeared from the House of Commons. In Losing Confidence, Elizabeth May outlines these and other problems of our political system, and offers inspiring solutions to the dilemmas we face. “We no longer behead people in Canada, but Stephen Harper’s coup d’état cannot be allowed to stand, not least because of the precedent. Any future government can now slip the leash of democracy in the same way. This is how constitutions fail.” - Ronald Wright… (mais)
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“If I were inventing democracy from scratch, I would not have invented political parties” (p17). Yes! “Mindless partisanship insists on a team mentality. My team versus your team …” (p17).

“Decisions are made on the basis of public opinion research far more than on the basis of policy analysis by the civil service” (p75). Yeah, when did THAT start to happen?

“If a citizen truly needs the intermediation of a lobby to get the attention of policy-makers in Ottawa … then we have no real democracy” (p173).

And then there’s the FPTP (First Past the Post) system Canada uses. In the 2008 election, “The Bloc won 50 seats with 1.3 million votes, while the NDP won 37 seats with 2.4 million votes. The Green Party won just under 1 million votes … yet won no seats” (p199). ‘Nuff said. ( )
  ptittle | Apr 21, 2023 |
Good Points, Partisan Analysis

With her latest announcement that she will run in the Saanich district in the next federal election, I decided to pick up Elizabeth May's book to read what some of her thoughts are. "Losing Confidence" is a good polemic on Canada's Parliamentary democracy but it is her selection and omission of cases she presents which reveals her political bias, which is most unfortunate because the issues she raises are spot on.

The issues May raises are important ones in the discourse of democracy in Canada and what reforms need to take place: The anemic devolution of Parliament, the dangerous expansion of the PMO; the concentration of the media, the lack of transparency of the RCMP; and the Americanization of electoral politics. I agree with all of them, but not in the way May presents them.

Part of the hypocrisy of May's arguments lie in the fact that May herself is guilty of participating in the self-interested machinations of partisan politics and lust for power. After all, implicit with any Liberal party government in power is the side-deal which will put May into the portfolio as Environment Minister, elected or not.

May's Liberal Party bias is none the more evident than in her discussion over the excessive abuses of power by the PMO and unaccountability of the RCMP. May focuses an exorbitant amount of time on Harper and the 2006 income tax leakage. She doesn't once mention the 1997 APEC summit when the RCMP, by direct orders of Chretien and the PMO, pepper-sprayed peaceful protesters on Suharto's motorcade route.

Furthermore, because of the unfair distribution of ridings slanted towards Ontario and Quebec, the Liberal party is the only party in the current system with the possibility of winning a majority government themselves without a coalition partner. Again, something May neglects to mention because of her political bias towards the Liberals.

Finally, while May is correct in bringing up the issue of media concentration, May fails to address whatsoever the impact of and the explosion of the Internet as becoming the primary medium with which Canadians now engage with for political discourse, thereby cutting out traditional media altogether.

This book raises some very important issues with what is wrong with democracy in Canada today. However, because May has chosen to slant her polemic so far to the side of the Liberals, her arguments must be taken with a grain of salt. ( )
  bruchu | Aug 23, 2009 |
More of a collection of what's wrong with Canadian democracy than any new insight, but the things she says need saying. Media control, RCMP, Party politics, so many issues we've got and she tackles them all. No change in the way it has made me think, but a clarification of what's wrong and what needs to be done.
  funfunyay | Jul 30, 2009 |
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A ringing manifesto for change from Canada’s Green Party leader and Activist. We Canadians are waking up from our long political slumber to realize that there will not be change unless we insist upon it. We have a presidential-style prime minister without the checks and balances of either the US or the Canadian systems. Attack ads run constantly, backbenchers and cabinet ministers alike are muzzled, committees are deadlocked, and civility has disappeared from the House of Commons. In Losing Confidence, Elizabeth May outlines these and other problems of our political system, and offers inspiring solutions to the dilemmas we face. “We no longer behead people in Canada, but Stephen Harper’s coup d’état cannot be allowed to stand, not least because of the precedent. Any future government can now slip the leash of democracy in the same way. This is how constitutions fail.” - Ronald Wright

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