Losing Confidence: Power, Politics and the Crisis in Canadian Democracy [NOOK Book]

Overview

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 ...
See more details below
Losing Confidence: Power, Politics and the Crisis in Canadian Democracy

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$12.99
BN.com price

Overview

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


From the Trade Paperback edition.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781551994055
  • Publisher: McClelland & Stewart Ltd.
  • Publication date: 7/16/2010
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Elizabeth May is an environmentalist, writer, activist and lawyer. She is the author of seven books and the recipient of numerous awards, including the Order of Canada medal. Since her 2006 election as leader of the Green Party of Canada, she has led the party to an unprecedented level of support among Canadians. May and her daughter, Victoria Cate, divide their time between Ottawa and New Glasgow, Nova Scotia.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt


Losing Confidence

Power, Politics and the Crisis in Canadian Democracy


By Elizabeth May
McClelland & Stewart
Copyright © 2009

Elizabeth May
All right reserved.



ISBN: 9780771057601


From the Introduction

It was in early May 2006 that I first watched An Inconvenient Truth, the now famous Oscar-winning documentary about the climate crisis. The Sierra Club of Canada had organized an advance screening in Toronto to which media, politicians and various opinion leaders had been invited. Al Gore was there to make his pitch for a word-of-mouth movement to increase attention for the documentary.

I was on my way out of my role as executive director of Sierra Club of Canada. After seventeen years, I had given notice a few months earlier, and although most of my staff did not know it, I had decided to toss my hat in the ring for the leadership of the Green Party of Canada. So, while I served as MC as Al Gore fielded questions, I was on the verge of moving in the opposite direction. He had left politics and embraced a life as an environmental advocate, and I was preparing to do the reverse.

A question was posed to Gore at that session and his answer stayed with me and has shaped my thinking over the last few years. In talking about the climate crisis, Gore said that it was one aspect of the crisis in Western democracies. He mentioned that the democracy crisis in Canada did not seem as extreme as in the U.S. (a point thatneeded no explanation given the theft of the U.S. election in 2000), but that every modern democracy was in crisis. And he believed that without fully functioning democracies, we could not escape the worst outcomes of global warming.

I had come to the same conclusion. We had just emerged from a federal election in which the old-line party I had once thought cared most about the climate crisis, the NDP, took pains to avoid climate change as an issue. [. . .] Later I was convinced that the Conservative minority of Stephen Harper had been elected by accident. Forty per cent of the 36 percent who voted Conservative said they had done so to punish the Liberals. While overall voter turn out improved only slightly over the 2004 historic lows, with only 64.7 percent of Canadians voting. Meanwhile some commentators noted with dismay that it was only due to the archaic “first past the post” system, a method of elections developed 1,100 years ago, that so many votes had not helped their party of choice. The House ended up not reflecting the will of the people as expressed through their votes.

So, it was hard to argue with the notion that democracy in Canada was in crisis. In entering politics, I felt that I could bring something different to the situation. At least, if I succeeded in becoming leader of the Green Party, I could draw attention to critical issues in the next election campaign. I wanted to identify what was wrong with Canadian politics: the marketing and selling of politicians like consumer goods; the failure to raise important issues and do so in respectful discourse. I wanted to help change the culture of politics from a confrontational and competitive field to one where greater cooperation and respect would be possible. If I could, I wanted to end the sports metaphors for politics as a “game” and see it for what it is and must be: the exercise by a free and responsible people of the democratic right to choose their own future.

Since then, the crisis has intensified. For the first time in Canadian political life, attack ads have been launched outside an election cycle. The Conservative “Not a Leader” tag line for Stéphane Dion was drummed into voters’ heads in January 2007 — mere weeks after Stéphane Dion won the Liberal leadership.

The increasing prominence of a presidential-style prime minister is steadily denigrating the traditions and institutions of Canadian democracy. Although the trend toward expanding prime ministerial powers began under Prime Minister Trudeau, the exercise of total control under Stephen Harper is unlike anything in Canadian tradition. The House of Commons has experienced an unprecedented increase of filibusters to block work in that chamber — instigated by Conservative MPs following a handbook produced by the PMO to ensure unfavourable witnesses could not speak in committees and unwanted bills could not pass in the House.

Question Period has sunk to the lowest levels of rudeness and incivility in living memory. Loud rounds of booing from government benches greet certain opposition members before they can even form a question. And the Speaker fails to rein them in. Every question to the prime minister is treated as an excuse to attack the questioner — or someone else. Once from my perch in the front row of the diplomatic gallery, I watched the leader of the official opposition ask about treatment of Afghan prisoners. The prime minister used this question to attack me, distorting a comment I had made on an unrelated subject beyond recognition. Politics has been referred to as a “blood sport.” It is rapidly becoming a take-no-prisoners war — both in and out of elections.

Public policy is no longer being developed through a process of consensus reflecting the public will. Nor is it being developed based on what the country needs in response to issues of concern — whether it’s the economic downturn borne of the credit crisis, the growing gap between the rich and the poor, the persistent weaknesses in our health care system, or the environmental crisis. Issues are dealt with solely with an eye on the next election. Policies are not designed with the broad public interest in mind, but with a narrow segmentation of Canadian voter attitudes, sliced and diced down to a level of manipulation that can win seats, if not the hearts and minds of the majority. The precision of targeted bad policy with the aim of winning seats is being brought to the level of high art under the current government.

We are increasingly observing all the levers of power of government — and governance — being appropriated from even a semblance of serving the public good in order to serve the Conservative Party’s fortunes in the next election.

The problem is that so few people seem to remember it was not always like this.

Jane Jacobs commented on this aspect of modern society in her last book, Dark Age Ahead. As pillars of our civilization crumble, Jacobs noted, we suffer from a collective amnesia. We seem to readjust rapidly without noticing what is being lost.

A full, free, and functioning democracy is not something we should lose without a fight. We must not be driven by fear or seduced by creature comforts into allowing democracy to slip between our fingers.

[. . .]

Despite the parliamentary crisis of November 2008, Canadians are not particularly aware that the essence of our democracy is at risk. The essential elements of a functional democracy are a free and independent media, a well-informed and engaged electorate, and high levels of participation on voting day.

We could have greater levels of participation in elections. We need to set aside aggressive, combative politics to allow the public to believe there are people and policies worth voting for. We could reform our voting system to allow proportional representation. We could jolt our news media out of their stupor to actually cover issues and solutions, and not allow the political process to be further dumbed down through inane commentary masquerading as journalism. We could engage in a respectful discourse. And, fundamentally, we could reverse the dangerous trends that are allowing our parliamentary democracy to warp into the worst of all worlds — an imperial prime ministerial rule in the absence of the checks and balances placed on U.S. presidential powers.

Our democracy is precious. It is worth fighting for.

Continues...


Excerpted from Losing Confidence by Elizabeth May Copyright © 2009 by Elizabeth May. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 22, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)