There are a lot of First Nation voters that are tempted to support the New Democratic Party or Green Party this election. After all, these parties have very progressive agendas when it comes to First Nations issues. Some voters are just so angry at Conservatives and the Liberals for the current state of Parliament and our fourth election since 2004.
But it’s easy to be progressive and responsive from fourth party status and no-party status.
As the Conservatives say in their latest TV ad: “A vote for the Liberals is a vote for Ignatieff.” (Brilliant, eh? Who writes this stuff for them?) That’s certainly true. Truth is, this time around, a vote for NDP or the Greens is a vote for HARPER.
I’ve been swayed by the charms of Jack Layton too. Last election, the NDP promised to restore the Kelowna Accord. But we can’t forget the fact that Kelowna was conceived of and led by a historic partnership between the Liberals, the provinces and First Nations. Sadly, it was the NDP supporting the Harper Conservatives who brought down the Martin government and thusly, obliterated the most significant piece of Aboriginal policy… EVER!
Promise what they want, the reality is that the NDP have absolutely no hope whatsoever of forming the opposition, much less a government. For Layton, it’s easy to support every single social cause you bring to them. In my political experience, the NDP have never said “no” to First Nations.
Another fact is, the Greens have absolutely no hope whatsoever of winning a single seat, much less form a caucus in Parliament. I offer my kodos to Elizabeth May for stepping up and demanding to be heard through a debate. But truth be told, she’s unelectable herself.
Monday night, I was contacted by devasmicota on Twitter who suggested that we ought to support a First Nations party. “How about a First Nations Party for whom we don’t have to sell our souls to”. I agree wholeheartedly. To me, that is the best way to ensure our voice is heard in Parliament. But electing an MP on a First Nations Party ticket is just not going to happen anytime soon.
However, there is hope.
Every once in a while, there is a call to examine and change the way we elect parliament. The call for proportional representation will get even louder if the government fails to make a minority parliament work after the third time.
Proportional representation is a type of election system that moves away from the first-past-the-post election of MPs, to allocating seats based on representative need. During the 2007 Ontario election, there was a referendum asking voters that very question. Unfortunately, it failed miserably.
We can certainly argue that Canada needs a seat, or a number of seats allocated in the House of Commons for First Nations. We can also use proportional representation to ensure every party has an elected MP based on popular vote. If that were the case, in 2008 the Greens would have elected 20 MPs. That’s great news for the environment, but bad news for Elizabeth May’s day job.
First Nations would truly benefit from electoral reform. Not only would we get one or two seats in Parliament by means of a set-aside. A First Nations party could manage to get two or three more based on the popular vote. Five seats in a proportional representative parliament is a mighty caucus. In a minority parliament, those five votes might just hold the balance of power.
That being said, I wish all the luck to Will Morin, leader of the First Nations National Party in his candidacy in the Sudbury riding. Folks like Will and Jerry Fontaine, both Anishinaabe, will be instrumental under a proportional representation system when the time comes.
If Parliament continues as it has in the past five years, the time for proportional representation won’t come soon enough.