How can we clean up the mess in Ottawa? Easy. Elizabeth May, Saanich–Gulf Islands Member of Parliament and leader of the Green Party, is offering “green cleaning” solutions to the endless scandals in the House of Commons.
May, alongside Toronto-Danforth Green candidate Adriana Mugnatto-Hamu, held a press conference Saturday afternoon at the party’s campaign headquarters where she discussed the various ways to clean up our electoral system.
As part of her “Green Cleaning Solutions for Dirty Politics” campaign, May is introducing measures that would tidy up our electoral process and ensure accountability by Members of Parliament and on Parliament Hill:
- Public inquiry into the robocall scandal
- Look into the investigative powers of Elections Canada
- Additional rules be placed in the Elections Act
- A ban on television advertising by political parties and third party groups
- Ending the control of leaders’ debates by a media consortium
The veteran politician explained that “attempting to defraud a voter of their vote” is a reprehensible criminal offence. In the House of Commons, May has made a motion to incite an emergency debate, but the Speaker ruled that it was being investigated by other authorities and it was prohibited to debate it in the House.
“There is a series of things we need to do to clean up electoral politics in this country,” explained the Green Party leader. “We need to shut down the amount of money that goes into political campaigns, we need full accounting and full reporting and get rid any tactic that is used to reduce voter turnout. By definition: it is anti-democratic to use tactics of voter suppression.”
Part of the Green’s solution includes a ban on political television advertising by political parties and third party groups. When asked if this ban would suppress political free speech, May responded that there have been many countries around the world that have banned attack ads and added that it would enhance freedom of speech.
“I think it would actually expand free speech because those countries that ban paid advertising create non-profit public accessibility on the airwaves,” explained May. She added that when a candidate is forced to stand in front of a camera he or she will define his or her issues instead of attacking the opponent.
The robocall scandal has been a major issue in Canada. A lot of MPs are suggesting that the evidence points towards the Conservative Party. Prime Minister Stephen Harper told the House of Commons this week that it could have been the Liberal Party who orchestrated this incident.
May has spoken a lot about this issue in the last week. Digital Journal
reported Saturday that May said she experienced the robocall discrepancies in the 2008 election where voters were told to vote NDP, even though the NDP candidate withdrew from the race.
The Green leader said it is obvious, according to the documents she has looked at it, that whoever organized these robocalls had the clear intention of aiding Harper’s Conservatives.
“That isn’t to say that whoever orchestrated it was inside the Conservative Party and Stephen Harper knew about it. Those are questions to be answered, we don’t know,” stated May. “Mike Duffy, who is a Conservative Senator, has suggested that there were black ops groups that were arms lengths from the Conservative Party and they might have done it.”
If it turns out that the Conservatives were the ones behind the robocall scandal, May believes the prime minister would have no other choice but to resign from office. “But we’re a long way from that scenario. Right now we need an inquiry.”
When probed if she would support by-elections despite the outcome of the investigation, May responded that first we need to know how many calls were made in the ridings that had “whisper-thin margins.”
She added that once Elections Canada and the RCMP verify the calls being made where the elections were quite tight (I.E. 18 or 100-vote margin) then the courts would decide if the country holds a by-election in those ridings “to ensure every vote counts and that voters are not defrauded.”
“Electoral politics in Canada does need to be cleaned up,” concluded May, “and I think our Green cleaning solutions would work very well.”