There are two great challenges facing Canada and neither one is about who gets elected on May 2nd. First, Canada needs a vision of itself that is about more than getting power for a political party. Our youth are doing their best to bring to the attention of politicians and the nation. Second, we need a vision that doesn’t mortgage our future be refusing to build more sustainable cities and rural landscapes.
This stuff isn’t complicated. Look at Europe. Look at the Nordic countries. They have been moving for thirty years towards nations that are less dependent on oil. They have fast passenger rail between their major cities, comprehensive urban transit systems, even district heating for housing. In Sweden, 50 per cent of their energy requirements are now non-oil based. These countries are building cities and nations with survival security – without oil dependence – and they are prospering.
What is Canada doing? Tax cuts for Tar Sands, reduced investment in non-oil public and private infrastructure and a desperate clinging to 7-11 consumerism. It’s like throwing more wood in a fireplace that already isn’t keeping the house warm. The house needs a better fireplace, not more wood and the nation needs a vision that’s about more than creating new consumers.
The first challenge isn’t complicated either, but it’s just as important. Electoral reform. The Swedes have had Green Party members of Parliament for 30 years, so have every other European nation. They have because they have a ‘proportional vote’ system and have since the beginning of the 20th century. The idea that you can’t have stability with coalition governments is nonsense. It is the reverse. It is the partisan wars of ‘first past’ the post system which is unstable, creating fragile, rigid pluralities.
Any government where a majority of Canadians are not represented in Parliament is not a democracy, it is an oligarchy. This is what Canada has become and elections are now characterized by ugly ‘team’ elections where each party leader searches for new ways to demonize the ‘other’ because his success depends on the ‘others’ failure.
Nations can’t prosper without a successful vision for themselves or an electoral system that can create a representative government. Until these two problems are solved, no matter who gets elected on May 2nd, Canada will continue to decline in the world’s esteem and more importantly, its’ own.