COLUMN: Time to change

MORRISBURG — It is hard to blame people for tuning out what is going on during the 2015 Federal Election campaign. As someone who enjoys watching and commenting on the game of politics, the exchange of ideas and policy, this election has been disappointing so far. That may change now that the halfway point in the writ period has finally been achieved, however the chance of that occurring is slim. None of the three parties have been captivating. None of the three parties have stated their case so far why they should lead, only stating why other two should not. That is not leadership from any of the three parties and their leaders. The polls indicate that a majority of Canadians want change. It is assumed by many that change means voting out the Conservatives and installing one of the two progressive parties, the New Democrats or the Liberals. Maybe the change that is really required is to not vote for any of the three mainstream parties.

Consider this, the Conservatives have been in government for nearly a decade, the Liberals for the decade before that. On and on it has gone throughout Canadian electoral history, this alternating between two parties that only achieve government when they move somewhat to the political center. Once the ruling party of the day loses its way, appears to be mired in scandal or the perception of wrong doing, voters flip the switch and go with the other party. Red or blue, flipping back and forth. The argument could then be made to try the NDP, as they have not been in federal government and are different than the other two parties. Except, really, they are not that much different than the rest.

The success in the NDP in the last decade comes from a few key points. The NDP had a charismatic leader in Jack Layton. Even if you didn’t agree with his politic, he appeared to be a genuine nice guy people felt they could connect with. The party became strong due to a collapse of the soft-nationalist support in Quebec, and a vacuum left by nearly a decade of inept leadership by the federal Liberals. They also gained and currently hold a lot of support by the party having moved to the political center. Electing a former provincial Liberal cabinet minister as the party leader helps with that as well. In the end, all three parties are going for the same basic middle ground, with slight nuances that separate them. And that is why voters should consider supporting none of them.

Nuances or fractional differences in platforms are not leadership and do not provide a vision. Taking a stand, showing why the stand is good, proving and defending it, that is leadership. Offering to return tax money to Canadian’s pockets is not leadership. There is no vision in offering half-baked program ideas that have minimal detail.  Offering pablum-based policy that has no depth, no substance, does an injustice to Canadian voters.

The solution may well be then, to stop supporting the three main parties. Stop accepting pablum policy and look at actual alternatives to vote for, there are 20 federally registered parties in Canada.

There is a fear in Canada that coalition governments are bad, that blocks of smaller parties cannot work together cohesively. If you cast your viewpoint globally, looking at other parliamentary democracies, this fear is misplaced. Many European nations are governed by groups or blocks of parties joining together to form governments. This extends all over the globe in countries such as Brazil and Israel among many.

It is time for Canadians to get over their fear of coalitions and embrace them. Looking in Canadian history, some of the best policy and ideas in Canada ever enacted came via coalition government including our universal health care system. By voting for actual change, and foregoing the pablum-parties of the NDP, Liberals and Conservatives, better policy can be made, and better government for all.

 

 

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