Thursday, October 29, 2015

The winds of political change - here's hoping! (A very rare political post) Opinions expressed are my own.

Canada has been going through some very harsh times politically, and I for one am glad to see an era of mistrust and divisive politics coming to an end.  I am not saying that there will not be disagreement on Parliament Hill or debate when parliament reconvenes, but I am happy that the electorate chose a different path.  Our Parliament and Senate have become dysfunctional, rampant with disrespect and the loss of civility.

Canada was starting to become a country of fear and intolerance.  Wedge issues were inserted into our political landscape in a campaign that singled out one religion. If we look back on recent history less than 100 years ago we have seen how religious and racial intolerance played out, yes I am referring to WW2. This may be an extreme comparison, but in reality this is how stuff like this starts, it has the potential to take hold and grow the seeds of hatred. I had hoped that Canadian's had grown enough as a society and world citizens to know this was a bad road to start going down.  Former PM Harper was trying to pass this off as 'conservative values' or 'Canadian values', these are not my values or those of many Canadians.  As a Canadian, I am ashamed that the PM who is supposed to represent every Canadian, no matter their gender, politics, or religious beliefs, tried to sell racism/bigotry/intolerance to Canadians, what's worse he almost did! He further divided the country with his actions and bad policy.  The rhetoric he heaped out on the campaign trail hurt our country to its very centre and undermined the core values of  Canada's foundation. We are a country built by immigrants.  Every person who comes to Canada brings a piece of their heritage and culture with them. That is what is so wonderful about Canada, we are truly a diverse melting pot of humanity where everyone is free to practice their religious beliefs and be happy Canucks.  I think Prime Minister Harper forgot that we have a Charter of Rights and Freedoms. He was taking us down the slippery slope of erosion of our rights and once that starts all bets are off and if we continued down his path the country that most Canadians know and love would in future be unrecognizable. 

Canada traditionally has been a country of peace keepers and world citizens, we embrace people, we help them, we encourage everyone to be the very best person they can, we were a country of environmental stewards, but over the last decade and a half we have lost great standing in the world. We had lost our compass, we lost our ability to strive for peace and be global citizens and look after those in the world who need our help and those in our very own country who are struggling in their daily existence. Politicians pay lip service to veterans, they ask our service men and women to do the impossible and when they come home broken, politicians turn their backs on them.  We owe these service men and women such a great debt, and in my estimation we can never repay them and that has to change.

We need electoral reform for both houses of government; the Commons and the Senate.  The 1st past the post system needs to go the way of the dinosaur and a system that represents every Canadian be established where a majority is not won by a party who only actually garnered 39% of the popular vote. Proportional voting would change the landscape of the make up of the House of Commons, and would be a truer representation of who Canadians voted for. A proportional system needs to be in place to ensure all Canadians coast to coast are fairly and equally represented. As a West Coaster it is very dispiriting knowing that before BC polls are closed the election has already been long decided. We are the last Province to go to the polls and the rest of the country has finished voting and votes already counted a good 4-6 hours before our polls are closed and our counting begins,there is nothing democratic about that. In the case of this last election people engaged in 'strategic voting' which generally happens when people want change and vote to boot out the current government. We have seen political routs before both Federally and Provincially due to this type of voting, proportional voting would eliminate the need for people to think about strategically voting.

Politicians need to understand that they are accountable and Canadians will expect no less than their very best, serving as an MP is not about furthering party agenda or personal vision, but rather it is about working for every Canadian.  

As a Canadian I am saying to those elected - I expect you to be and do better, I expect you to be honest, I expect you to understand the privilege and trust that has been placed in you in regards to your elected office, you are stewards of this country. Mediocrity is no longer acceptable, nor is partisan politics or politics of fear and division.

The purpose of the senate is to represent all Canadians, it is considered the house of "sober second thought" with regards to legislation. I am hoping that civility will return to both political houses and that partisan politics will not be the game of the day in the conservative stacked senate. Along with electoral reform I also feel that there needs to be senate reform, particularly when it comes to appointment of senate seats. Senate appointments are made at the discretion of the PM and we end up with an unbalanced senate that plies the trade of partisan politics, which makes the senate biased and relentlessly pushes the agenda of the party with the most seats. This partisan politics takes away the purpose of "sober 2nd thought"and effective governance. The senate in no way represents Canadians and I honestly feel senators should be elected and represent each province equally or it should be abolished altogether if reform doesn't happen. Unfortunately to do this a minimum of 7 Provinces would have to be on board to re-open our constitution. We've been there before in the 90's and it almost had disasterous results and the country almost splintered apart. But then again if citizens are ready for change and were given thoughtful viable options it may just be possible, but it is going to require a lot of work and vision to make it happen.

One of the best things about this election was voter turn-out it was the highest its ever been and the youth vote was finally mobilized. Finally young people in the 18 to 35's age group are getting engaged in the democratic process and that says a lot about the state of our country. 

I may sound very dispirited, but actually I am not, I still see what is great about our country and the huge potential we have to make change in our country and in the world. It is going to take a lot of work to make us all feel that we are worthy of our Canadian traditions and increase our standing in the global community. It is not just up to politicians to inspire change, it is up to each of us to foster it and grow it in our daily lives.

Dare I say we have the makings of a Canadian Camelot, I hope it isn't just a mythical place, but a modern day Canadian reality. Time will tell if PM Trudeau will live up to his words and platform, as Canadians it is our job to hold all politicians accountable and to stay true to our Canadian identity.


Coop a.k.a. Coopdway said...

I've been paying a lot of attention, probably more so than many of my neighbors. I hope this new era brings you all progress and growth.

Dar said...

I do too Coop. It was a very rough 78 days and I hope that electoral reform is a huge part of the agenda both in the 1st past the post system and a different system regarding senate appointments or even abolishing the senate entirely. I am not sure how you all in the US deal with a year long campaign, endless debates & all personal attacks that go along with it. Holy Hannah!

Shybiker said...

Good post, Dar. Words that needed to be spoken. I read an article about Harper a while ago written by a Toronto journalist: she made him sound awful. She called him "Richard Nixon without the charm." So I watched your recent election and was pleased to see him lose. The past decade has been hard on your country. You have a better tradition in politics than we do down here; it was sad to see that threatened. I hope the real Canadian value return to your government.

Dar said...

Ali - Stephen Harper is a polarizing figure and he was on the road to create a very ugly version of Canada. I will give him some credit as he did steer us through some challenging economic times and that is what got him re-elected for his third term in 2011. After that he took it for granted that he was going to win this election. I think what finally turned the tide was his intolerance and racism, that pretty much clinched it for me. I hate injustice and intolerance and he was using it to divide the country. I hope and pray that we are going to see better days of governance. Keeping my fingers crossed!

Troubadour said...

Does this mean I can come home now? ;)

I've generally viewed politics as a giant pendulum swinging back and forth between two parties, not only in Canada, but now here in the US. The pendulum is finally swinging to the left in Canada, all the while momentum for the pendulum to swing the other way here in the States is growing.


Conchscooter said...

Changing the first past the post system for proportional representation has downsides too. Italy is famous for not being able to organize a sock drawer with parliament split between 17 parties with two representatives each. Germany does it better with a higher threshold.
The problem of East Coast time difference is easily solved by not starting the count until the last polling station in the country closes. Long advocated in the US and never implemented . Canada could lead the way here too.

Please don't get too far ahead of the US. I can't stand the weather Up North even if socially I prefer Canada's politeness

David Masse said...

Very nicely put Dar!

We all have very high hopes. There is much harm to undo, before rebuilding can begin. It's a mammoth challenge. Let's hope he's up to it.

WooleyBugger said...

This sounds just like the US of A. Everything you wrote sounds just like here.