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Posts Tagged ‘federal politics’

Warren Kinsella aside, now’s not exactly a time of great joy for Federal Liberals.  The Liberal poll numbers are low, and an anecdotal glance at the comments sections on news sites and blogs seem to indicate less Liberal/Iggy support than in the recent past.

I myself joined the Federal partly only recently, having before that been a member of another party federally.  (I think many readers could probably hazard a guess as to which other party a centrist Liberal could have flirted with.)  To be honest, I was scared away by the apparent rift between Mr. Chretien and Mr. Martin, and several controversies that didn’t make the Liberal party seem like the right party for a young idealist.  But I’ve come to realize that no matter what the fortunes of the party, and even when other Liberals say or do things that I don’t agree with, the Liberal Party of Canada has always been my ideological home, even if I wasn’t always ready to admit it.

When I describe the Liberal party (both provincial and federal) to voters, I refer to it as a sort of a Libertarianism with Conscience.  It’s the idea that individuals should always be free to make their choices in life, but that the government will be there to support them when they want help.  That last piece is important, because too often governments decide to “help” when their brand of assistance isn’t wanted or needed, and it’s very difficult for a government to walk the line between being supportive and getting in the way.  So a good government doesn’t stick its nose where it doesn’t belong (in the bedroom, for instance), and guarantees the safety and well-being of its citizens while protecting their rights and privacy.  I strongly believe that the Liberal Party of Canada is our best hope of achieving this kind of government, which I will call a Proper Liberal Government.

Our best hope is still very much a work in progress, as there are things that happen every day that seem to get in the way of the LPC reaching that goal.  My opinion (which may be somewhat naïve) is that the Liberals need to start behaving in politics the way that they would hope to behave as the ideal government for Canada.  And first and foremost, that means treating all Canadians with respect, even if they have a big Conservative ‘C’ stitched onto their shirt.

–    All Canadians deserve to have their voices heard: a Proper Liberal Government would not marginalize any citizens, no matter their background or social situation.  So that means it’s not okay to treat other MPs maliciously in the House of Commons, or in media interviews, or in ten-percenters.

–    It is better to build up than to tear down: a Proper Liberal Government would place its emphasis on constructive solutions, with negative comments on the actions of others kept to a minimum, and delivered not only with respect but with a positive remedy suggested.

–    Governments function best when they have the consent of the governed: a Proper Liberal Government would view opposition parties as partners in legislation and initiatives.  The best way to curry favour among the voters for the next election is to find and build consensus whenever possible.  This cannot be achieved when the MPs of other parties, who represent the majority of our citizens, are treated with disdain or distrust.

–    Transparency is a virtue and a powerful ally to Canadians: the Liberal philosophy is based on the idea that our opinion is valid because it is well-conceived, well-researched, and well-debated.  A Proper Liberal Government would make sure that all facts are made available to all Canadians as quickly and as accessibly as possible.

What this means to me is that our current doctrine of Mutually-Assured Destruction with the Conservatives isn’t working.  We are the party of intelligent consensus, which while causing more arguments within our party, creates strong and thoughtful policies that reflect the opinions of a majority of our citizens.  We are the party that captures the ideals of most Canadians, but we’re also the party that has lost its ability to sell our citizens on the idea of good government.

The disenfranchised majority who can’t even bring itself to vote isn’t made up of mostly far-right conservatives or far-left socialists; many non-voters are centrist Canadians who have lost faith that they’ll ever see a Proper Liberal Government.  They see politics as a game between two or three armies of self-serving politicians, where no major party has risen above the fray.

I believe that the only way we have a chance at restoring the majority’s faith in their system of government is to very clearly and very publicly draw a line between the partisan politics of old and the new politics of respect.  We need to have our LPC leaders stand up and say that we’ve had enough of the game, and that we’re not going to play any longer.  And we need to back it up, by treating all other MPs with respect in Parliament and in the media, and by focusing on construction instead of destruction.

At first, the other parties might gain some advantage, by continuing to use strategies that we would deem too abhorrent to employ, but I actually don’t believe that.  As the LPC proves its sincerity in the weeks and months to follow, the other parties will either suffer backlash by continuing the old battle, or will start to change their ways as well.  And when the noise of nasty politics has faded, the policies and promise of a Proper Liberal Government will bring the Liberals a new opportunity to govern Canada, and govern it well.

The only way to solve the political deadlock in Canada is to start acting like the government we aspire to become.  Any other strategy will continue to be seen as a cheap ploy to the majority of Canadians.

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