Canadians long calling for Electoral Reform may finally have some support after millions of dollars have been squandered on an election that produced another minority government, no change in Canada’s leadership and no indication of a more effective House of Commons.

Tuesday’s Federal Election proved that the winning party – Stephen Harper’s Conservatives – do not represent the will of the majority of voters. The Conservatives captured just 37% of the popular vote while the combination of Liberal, NDP and Green voters represented 51% of Canadian ballots, indicating Canada suffers from the Ralph Nader Effect: a fatal splitting of the left of centre vote that allows the right wing party to win. Ironically, many suspect Nader’s 2008 US presidential candidacy will actually help Democrat Barack Obama rather than splitting the traditional left, but historically, Nader’s runs for the presidency have hurt the left and many blame him for the 2000 and 2004 Democratic losses.

So, what are the options in democracy where diverse parties and ideologies are encouraged? Countries such as the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and Australia adopted the Single Transferable Vote (STV) system and swear by it, but in North America, the vote counting and transfer system that sounds a little too much like a disease you might get from sleeping around at rave parties has failed to catch on. People like the concept of their vote counting even if their first choice candidate isn’t in first place, but it is complex enough that Joe Six Pack won’t be a fan, much less understand it. Check out this BC-produced video explaining how it works far better than anything else I’ve seen.

bc-stv-full.swf

While this system makes sense and the most use of one’s vote, there is another option to consider – one that has worked pretty well for Stephen Harper: amalgamation of the left. Recognizing the potentially fatal split developing among Canada’s right wing parties in the early 2000s, in 2003, Harper manged to bring together the Reform Party of Canada faithful – who had recently morphed into the too-radical-for-even-most-right-wingers Canadian Alliance Party – to form the Conservative Party currently in power in Canada. Some of the Progressive Conservatives of old – a decidedly more centerist party than the Conservatives – came along for Harper’s ride, but many feared Harper’s neo-con agenda, choosing to either leave politics or join the Liberal Party of Canada.

Say what you want about Stephen Harper, but this was a masterstroke for him – and arguably rang the death knell for the Canada we love – enabling the right to attain governing party status in a predominantly socially progressive country. If the Liberals, the New Democrats and the Greens could forge such an alliance, they would be elected and free to advance an agenda of social responsibility, fiscal conservatism and environmental action.

This election carried with it more talk about leadership or the lack of it than any in recent memory. If the Stephane Dions, Jack Laytons and Elizabeth Mays of the country put aside their own egos and pride and called for a national convention of socially and environmentally progressive parties, perhaps they could forge a similar alliance and pull Canada out of the ditch Stephen Harper has pushed us into.

Time will tell, but that’s the kind of Green Shift we could all get behind.

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Stephen Harper continues to chant his “stay the course, Canada needs solid leadership in times of economic crisis” mantra as the other party leaders scramble around the country in a last-ditch effort to convince Canadians Harper is a controlling, manipulative dictator responsible for the country’s demise. Reports from Alberta indicate Conservatives aren’t even attending all-candidates’ debates or forums because they’re so certain those ridings are a lock – this government continues to insult its taxpayers by restricting dialogue and limiting forums for discussion or expressing dissent. There ain’t no “Progressive” in this Conservative.

Ironically, Green Party leader Elizabeth May has emerged as a formidable leadership presence on the Canadian political scene, while Liberal leader Stephane Dion continues to face criticism for his perceived lack of leadership ability – a perception I believe firmly rooted in his English language proficiency and not any deficiency as a potential Prime Minister. Dion has impressed me increasingly over the election as an exceedingly honest man in a world seemingly devoid of honesty; he is compassionate, sensitive, – God forbid we have a leader who is compassionate and sensitive, he won’t be “tough” enough to make the hard calls – educated, intelligent and earnest. Prior to this election, I think the only time I heard him speak was when he accepted his party’s leadership nomination last year. Like most Western Canadians, I barely know the guy, but I’d trust him over Harper any day.

The NDP’s Jack Layton is slick, approachable and quite likely prepared to be PM, but despite promises of all sorts of money for children under 18 and social programs, I have yet to get a real sense of what the NDP gives me that the other parties – Green or Liberal – can’t. Either the person seems acceptable but the party isn’t or the party isn’t moving Canadians, but the person is. What to do?

So, without further delay, I present the five people who would make better Prime Ministers than Stephen Harper. Yes, several have strong American connections, but so does our PM and desperate times require desperate measures.

Here they are:

5. Ben Mulroney
Hey, he manages to keep that self-absorbed, self-inflated Canadian Idol judge Zack Werner from pushing everyone into his vat of acrid-smelling hyperbole, all the while looking every bit the shiny metrosexual we’d all like to hang with – he could probably coax a conciliatory word out of Mahmoud Ahmadinezhad. He’s positive and supportive of losers and winners alike and has a hot girlfriend, proving people aside from his own parents like him.

4. Senator Larry Campbell
The real maverick, Campbell shoots from the hip and calls ’em like he sees ’em. No need for a large communications staff, he would do all his own talking and let the rest of his party talk, too. If he didn’t like what they said, he’d tell them. His track record for listening to constituents and bringing widely dissenting opinions together at the table would be a stark contrast to Steve’s House of Mirrors. He also knows Arctic Sovereignty is not important to Canadians.

3. Margaret Atwood & Anne-Marie MacDonald (co-PMs)
Both because they’re really busy and need time to write. Both because they are incredibly smart and have wicked senses of humour (have you read The Edible Woman?) We need some of that. MacDonald has been on Oprah, so we’re talking the Six Degrees of Barack Obama here.

2. Matthew Perry
This Canadian looks great in a sweater vest, talks fast AND has worked in the White House. Okay, so he was acting on The West Wing, but he had to meet with technical consultants (who’ve worked in the REAL White House), learn his lines, recite them back believably and look good doing it. Hey, wait a minute, that kinda sounds like – another day for her.

1. Janeane Garofalo
Although an American, the radio host, actor and comedian demonstrated an in-depth knowledge of Canadian politics and the issues heading into this election that would shame most Canadians during her CBC interviews with Stephen Quinn and Jian Ghomeshi last month. Also a West Wing alum, she’s preparing for a new role on 24 and we’re betting she’ll get to do more than keep an eye on Russia. Now, if we could just dispel those nasty Scientology rumours I’d email her a marriage – limited domestic partnership? – proposal….