Is Something Happening to Canada’s Democracy?

trojan democracy horse

Well, after almost one week, I think it’s safe to say that the 2011 federal election truly reflects the disconnect between Canadians and the political parties.

This week’s discussion has revolved around whether or not Green Party Leader Elizabeth May should be included in the televised leaders debate. This was quickly followed by the controversy over a possible one-on-one televised debate between Stephen Harper and Michael Ignatieff, to take place after the leaders debate.

As far as I’m concerned, all parties should have an equal opportunity to present their policies and ideas to the public. By having a one-on-one debate, not only are alternative parties shut out of public discourse, but the Conservative and Liberal Parties become placed upon pedestals while undermining the legitimacy of other parties. Once again, two options are presented to Canadians. Blue colour or red colour. Pepsi or Coca-Cola. Your choice. Any issues not on the radar of these two parties fall off the political radar.

The way I see it, Canada’s democracy is under threat. The Canadian political structure is built by layers upon layers of undemocratic political parties, policies, priorities, and media practices. British Columbia is even governed by a Permier that’s not even been elected to the Legislature. What is it going to take to restore democracy in Canada?

The Broadcasting Consortium is composed of Canada’s largest television networks, including CBC/Radio-Canada, CTV, Global, and TVA in a joint effort to offer Canadians complete political coverage during election campaigns, including leaders’ debates in French and English. Why does the Broadcast Consortium deny the voice of the Green Party? Whose interests are they protecting and what issues are they attempting to avoid from reaching the public discourse? What is the CBC trying to do by reporting on the decision of the consortium and providing Elizabeth May with a chance to voice her side of the story? Is it a strategy by CBC to retain some credibility?

And whose interests would a one-on-one televised debate between Harper and Ignatieff serve? Why is this two-party debate even being considered? What are the political and social implications of this two-party debate? What issues would be left out should this debate take place legitimizing only two parties while undermining the legitimacy of alternative parties?

Canada is a democracy. However, as in many areas in the world, democracy is not a gift. It needs to be fought for. And in order to restore it, Canadians need to start asking some fundamental questions.

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