Informal Feminism

{April 17, 2011}   Elizabeth May, Stephen Harper and the 2011 Leadership Debate

Hi everybody, this week I am going to be talking about the Canadian leadership debate that took place on April 12/2011, last Tuesday. The original reason that I picked this topic was that I was outraged that Elizabeth May; the leader of the green party was not being allowed to speak alongside the other four leaders. This is a political party with huge influence on the Canadian public, receiving 900,000 votes last election. However they were not given any seats in the house, unlike the bloc whose votes were not much higher but who received 50 seats in the house and run on a platform that only seeks to benefit one province in the country. In the debate this year Michael Ignatiff, leader of the liberal party, repeatedly stated that his government supported democracy while calling other leaders out for not recognizing it but he participated in a debate that clearly stood against the democratic process by excluding the leader of a popular party. However, Elizabeth May was not to be ignored a kept up real-time answers on-line and with the Vancouver sun that gave her responses to the questions posed. I also want to point out that Elizabeth May was the only one, on her blog, to ask questions about where women stood with the Canadian government.

While I watched the debate this year I was struck, as I usually am, by the blatant lies laid out by the candidates and mud slinging that happens. While I am happy to see Harper being called out by the other candidates for his secretive government and the financial ruin he has introduced to our country, the other candidates seemed to use this as a way to get around stating their own platforms. I want Harper to be held accountable for the mistakes he has made with his leadership of our country but I also want to know why I should vote for the other leaders. In Elizabeth May’s blog she had the opportunity to give short points that explained what the platform for her party was, she only used a few of these points to question Harper and the majority of them to explain what the green party would do if they got into office. Her real-time responses on-line during the debate made it clear why she should have been included in the group of leaders.

Stephen Harpers responses in the debate made it clear why he should not be re-elected. When asked questions about accountability for financial decisions that he has made he did not seem to have much of a response. He was unable to produce numbers for anything and blamed other people for not having those numbers. He continuously questioned and dismissed the numbers that the other leaders had to outline his failure as a prime minister. The most troubling responses he made I feel had to do with a question that stated: can minority governments work together to create a better results for the Canadian population? It was here that Harper made his power play for a majority government clear. He repeatedly stated that he needed a majority government and the reason seemed to be that he was clearly having trouble working with the minority government system and wants complete control, this showcases his lack of respect for the other parties. Having a majority Harper government would be a sad day to see, he already pushes his own agenda in parliament and blatantly lies to the Canadian citizens about his spending habits. He took a country with a surplus and made it into a deficit. He wasn’t called out about his treatment of women in the debate but it is easy to see, and I have written about it before, that his treatment towards women’s groups is poor and one of the first things he did getting into office was to cut funding to the only government funded women’s rights group. Also I was disappointed that there was not a more in depth discussion of his regulation of groups that go to other countries to provide aid. I would have liked to hear someone mention how he introduced the stipulation that Canada would not provide funding for abortion services in other countries because it does not fit with his moral code. Watching Harper debate by just deny the other parties accusations is something to be aware of because the current leader of our country seems unable to defend himself or explain his actions in a way that shows he should maintain leadership; If anything the debate made it even clearer why Harper needs to be removed from office.

The other three leaders in the debate though, didn’t leave me with confidence either. Ignatiff spent most of his time attacking Harper without explaining his own platform. Duceppe had a similar debate strategy, spending much of his time attacking Harper. When he wasn’t he was pushing his ambition for Quebec to be its own country. It surprises me that the leader of a party who clearly represents one province over the rest of Canada is allowed in the debate but they did not let Elizabeth May speak and her party is one that runs on behalf of the entire country and has a large amount of supporters. Layton was the one leader who I found it easiest to listen to, while he did spend a good amount of time questioning Harper he also tried to clearly lay out how the NDP would benefit the country if they were elected. I also liked that he didn’t bow out of the race like Duceppe did. Duceppe made the statement at one point that there was no chance that he or Layton would be getting into office but Layton refused to accept that comment. I think that it is very important that these people have confidence in their ability to lead and their desire to lead.

As I have stated a few times already in this blog women were clearly underrepresented in this debate. As a Canadian woman I would have liked to know how the government is going to represent me, especially since all the candidates in the debate are male. I wanted to know what kind of policies are being enacted around women’s rights or what policies have been taken away, which since Harper has come into power have been many. If he is given a majority government, he will try to push his moral agenda and view that women should be in the home and raising the children down the Canadian woman’s throat. I want a government that expands social assistance and makes it easier to access to and easier to get out from. I want a government that recognizes women have an important role in our country and give them a voice to speak instead of cutting funding to groups that speak on women’s behalf. I would like to see the only female candidate be allowed to speak at the same debate as the men and not in real time on her blog.

As a feminist it has always been my end goal that women achieve equality with and respect from their male counterparts. It is clear from the debate that women are not seen as an important part of Canadian society. We need to change that view and having Harper re-elected will take us further and further away from the important strides we have already made as women in this country. So on May 11, I will be voting for the green party because I truly believe that our country needs a serious change of direction away from giving tax cuts to big business and cutting funding to social assistance, women’s groups, healthcare, education and many other things. We need to pay attention because if we allow Harper back in office, we will be watching our country get destroyed. Everything that I am proud Canada stands for Harper is determined to destroy. So please vote on May 11 because we need to bring Canada back to its former glory not let it sink.


Tamara Hicks says:

Great post!

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