Friday, June 29, 2012

Are you ready for a rant?

We have a problem in Canada. I suppose it has always existed in Canadian politics, but I'm guessing that a highly polarized electorate is exacerbating the issue.  What am I talking about?  The recent slate of bills this government has put on the table has brought something to light.

The way our current government works is based on the assumption that if you support a party, you support everything that party stands for.  In reality, that's just not true.  One can be a conservative, but still care about the environment.  One can be a socialist, but not necessarily support unions.  One can be a liberal, but take a firm stance against massive waste in social programs.  The Canadian budget bill (C-38) that was just steamrolled through parliament is a good example.  It has come to light that there are many conservative members of parliament who do not support the environmental aspects of the budget bill.  So even from a purely party line standpoint there is no perfect unity on this topic.  But then one has to consider the electorate has a whole, across the country.  If roughly 40% of the people who voted are conservative supporters, what percentage of those supporters are in agreement with what the current government is doing to environmental law?  Let's pretend that 25% of those people do not agree with the current direction.  I think it's safe to say that there are more conservative supporters against the new environmental stance than there are liberal or socialist supporters that are for the new environmental stance.  If you accept that assumption, then there are definitely a lot more people against this new direction than are for it.

I think this is basically what's wrong with the way our government works.  As soon as you elect a party into power, especially if you give them a majority, you're stuck with whatever political direction they want to take the country.  Whether you support the government, or not.  If my memory serves correctly, at least in past governments that served decades ago, the ruling party was usually willing to listen to the opposition, who in many cases represented more people nation-wide than the ruling party.  They embraced a concept known as compromise.  That concept doesn't seem to exist anymore.  What's even more unfortunate, is that there doesn't seem to be anything we can do about it.  At least not until the next election.  The amendments that were offered by the other parties to try and make the budget bill better were all voted against by the ruling party.  The only thing the ruling party could say was that the other parties were grandstanding.  Even while real Canadians were commenting on blogs and news web sites that they had a real problem with many of the things contained in this budget bill, the ruling party chose to ignore those concerns.  So even though the offering of amendments was a futile gesture, it was in effect a protest against the government that wants to finish its mandate with its fingers stuck in its ears.

This is one of the reasons why I've always been a fan of minority government's situations.  At least in a minority government, the ruling party is held to account for everything it tries to do.  They are forced to acknowledge the opposition's concerns and arrive at compromises that everyone can agree on.  I believe that this is a much better way to run a government.  And it has a lot in common with more representative government systems.  The major flaw in a minority government is its instability.  If the ruling party doesn't come to an agreement with the opposition, they can lose a non-confidence vote, which results in another election.  There is no other option.  If this flaw could be fixed, minority government's could become the best governments.

There has to be something better than what we have now.  Because what we have now is a majority government that only seems happy to quash dissent or any type of criticism.  A majority government that has its mind set on a very specific direction with no real interest in discussing anything or agreeing to any kind of compromise.  Now, as soon as I say this, conservative supporters will always say things like "yeah but what about the Liberals".  My response is always the same.  Never mind what past governments have done and stop using them as an excuse for you to continue that pattern.  This government promised to be different.  They promised to be transparent, accountable and honest.  Maybe I have blinders on, but I'm not seeing any evidence to support the idea that this government is any different than what has come before.  In fact, it seems that they are worse.

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