Politics from municipal and provincial to federal was always a major part of my life. I follow all three levels and feel I am as knowledgeable as anyone except possibly those elected or assisting members of parliament. I always nurtured a strong desire to keep well informed on everything happening politically in my Canada.
I try to research all the subjects contained in my blogs and although I might refer to something said by others during a group gathering such as a Tim Horton’s morning coffee meeting, I always try to reference without making political statements. Undoubtedly as a human I have political leanings and opinions but try to be neutral. I am a left leaning average Canadian which until recent years was the majority of voters. I do not follow or support any political party for the sake of being a member of that party. I have donated financially to all three major parties and will probably donate to the Green Party if only to keep the party active. If I disagree with a stand any party is taking on an issue, I will oppose the position with as much research as I can access but seldom if ever make reference to another party’s position on the subject.
The reason for the change of direction in this article is to express personal feelings about the frustration I feel, like so many Canadians, about politics. I wish to comment as fairly as possible on the methods used by all Federal Canadian parties but frustration tends to make my comments too partisan for my own liking. The following commentary will undoubtedly substantiate the contention.
The Harper Conservatives as they want to be called appear dictatorial and possibly disorganized. The Liberals tend to wander trying to find the support lost during the Chrétien/Martin conflicts without much policy so far that isn’t designed for sensationalism. The New Democrats even with a leader that seems charismatic, intelligent and basically honest still reflects the same old NDP mired in third place. The party according to polls is sinking to traditional support numbers before the Jack Layton era lead to the astonishing increase in popularity and votes.
I will start with the New Democrats still at the bottom with respect to recent polls and work up from there to the Liberals and finally the Conservatives. Many political followers at the pre-mentioned coffee clubs and other venues still identify the New Democratic Party with big labour. Most corporations in today’s world are positioned to close, downsize or shift operations. Many large resource companies operate under a corporate umbrella that allows a new type of business functioning where unions do not have the power and therefore the support of as many members. The collapse of historic union support could be a reason the NDP for the electorate decline in the polls. The party has a strong Northern Ontario representation probably due to reaction from political neglect of the resource rich region. Who knows, Mulcair might have the intelligence and oration ability to lead the party to a revival of recent fortunes with voters. The party’s lack of depth together with maybe a few of the old guard holding to pre-Layton ideals could prove insurmountable to Tom Mulcair holding onto leader of opposition status. Aside from Nathan Cullen who has made mention of leaving the federal party to run provincially in BC and Olivia Chow deciding about running as Toronto mayoralty candidate the party might be shy of recognizable ministerial candidates. Exceptions that have taken the spotlight on media political programs would be Charlie Angus, Megan Leslie, Peggy Nash, Paul Dewar, David Christopherson, Joe Comartin, Jack Harris, Peter Julien, Pat Martin and Peter Stoffer. The group is impressive enough to fill the cabinet positions an elected leader must appoint. Conversely many of the current Federal government cabinet ministers are almost invisible since the party appears to discourage appointed ministers from appearing in the media. Most Harper government ministers are represented by assistants or deputies when a media appearance is necessary.
Tom Mulcair and the New Democrats have an uphill battle to retain the opposition title and a war to win if expecting to assume power. The one need for the NDP is an almost entirely new platform offering strong social programs without demanding corporate Canada succumb to high levels of taxation. The challenge might be too steep for the likeable Tom Mulcair and his team to overcome.
Justin Trudeau and the Liberals are almost in some aspects comic relief for politics watchers. On the other hand his father Pierre is often considered one of the most colorful politicians ever elected to lead the nation. Pierre and now Justin are renowned for using humor and unorthodox methods to attract media attention. Justin dismissing Liberal appointed senators from caucus was certainly unexpected and who knows maybe an error or smart tactic. It will be interesting to watch developments with the Trudeau leadership.
First is how the man with the young followers that historically don’t take the time to vote or become involved in organizations will handle getting those young people involved nationwide. Secondly, it will be even more interesting to see how the party and its new leader handle the inevitable barrage Conservative attack ads prior to the next vote. Media reports indicate the Conservatives have already tried to muster people in an effort to disrupt Trudeau’s first policy convention. If Trudeau learns to use the media with the same success as his father, the Conservatives with a reputation for blocking out the media might have a hard time competing.
Recent spiraling then sputtering polls and likely rising again polls at the expense of the Conservatives continue with the Liberal party setting out an agenda and platform acceptable to some media analysts. If the trend continues Trudeau could become a serious threat even with most media analysts prone to supporting the Conservatives after almost a decade of exposure to their type of government. If the Liberal platform sputters and the New Democrats get better organized using the media, Liberals might have a difficult time moving into opposition. The Liberal platform appears new and untried at this point. Trudeau has already displayed a lot of his father’s past charisma but that might not be enough to give the Liberals the majority needed to rule. Of course a minority mandate is not beyond the realm of possibility.
Finally there is the Conservative party that likes to be referred to as the Harper government. For anyone but committed supporters of the Conservative/Reform Party merger the Harper majority government is quite different from any past Canadian political administration although with some reflection on the former Ontario Mike Harris Conservative government. Harris ruled Ontario in the 1990’s and early 2000’s and a few more powerful current Harper government ministers served in both governments.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper seems to have an agenda aimed at changing the traditional socialistic character of Canada into a more or less Republican style government similar to those ruling the United States at times. The new Conservatives are proving to be a government that caters to the corporate world to stimulate the economy some believe at the expense of the benefits earned or won from government over the years. The agenda supports investors as indicated by the so far nonstop escalation of share prices on the Canadian stock market. However a growing number of analysts point to the increasing debt load and decline of Canada’s living status for the middle class.
One key issue plaguing the Harper government drive for reelection is the Keystone Pipeline battle facing opposition from the US Democratic Party government of Barack Obama. The issue is creating a major hurdle due to Oilsands production environmental concerns expressed on both sides of the border. A major blow to Oilsands produced crude might result from American environmentalists. A well known American journalist, author and education environmentalist, Bill McKibben was asked recently in a national interview if new strict laws would lessen American resistance to the Keystone pipeline. McKibben was quoted in a recent Macleans news magazine article saying “No. The Harper government is a wholly owned subsidiary of the fossil fuel industry. And their endless attempts to pretty up what they are doing are pointless.”
The Pipeline debate is only one instance of the Harper government need to try controlling every project or program proposed without regard to opposing points of view. The Prime Minister has not met with provincial leaders almost since attaining majority status. It is a well known fact Federal/Provincial meetings are necessary to learn about provincial concerns and coordination of needed programs. Harper’s government in my opinion is the most secretive and least respected in the world community than any other in recent history. Pierre Elliot Trudeau’s Liberal administration in the 1970’s and 80’s often irritated the opposition and voters by ignoring demands and enacted unilateral decisions based on the needs for the country at the time. The Trudeau approach was evidenced in one major instance by enacting the War Measures Act to quell a Quebec uprising by the FLQ. His widely opposed decision to visit China during the height of communist regime power was another case of a Canadian leader ignoring the wishes of Parliament if not the Canadian public. But Trudeau’s cabinet ministers and staff met with their provincial counterparts and the PM did not shy away from Federal/Provincial meetings as evidenced by the Meach Lake accord that in effect changed Canada and kept Quebec from separating.
The list of changes the Conservative government feels are needed and opposed by the opposition, and according to polls the majority of Canadians, could go on indefinitely. The methods used to attain the government’s goals seem indifferent to traditional Canadian politics and for some, me included, a reason to walk away from a lifelong hobby and career of commenting on and analyzing politics.
I would like to see an alternative to Canadian politics emerge since the system as practiced by every political party needs to change. I am aware that will not happen in the near future since the parties are too ingrained in the current system. All the parties are prone to fearing an upstart organization that might represent the people instead of the party. Remembering the inaugural speech of the esteemed American President John F Kennedy and his statement telling Americans to consider “it is not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country”, the philosophy and practice is the need of Canadians. A new political entity springing up representing the wishes of the citizens rather than the needs of the party would be a step forward for Canada.
It is unfortunate that Canadians are satisfied with our major political parties setting such a poor example for the next generation as the Conservative attack ads belittling opponents. Canadians it seems give lip service to the idea of raising honest intelligent, charitable and idealistic children before allowing politicians to teach them the joys and benefit of all out greed and anger against those not sharing your views. It reflects the truth to the biblical saying the love of money is the route of all evil.
This will be the final MY CANADA blog article. Thank you for accessing my past blogs. I will probably still follow politics to a lesser degree and will definitely vote in every election. I believe voting is the only way to assure democracy continues. The system might have flaws but is still the best one on earth. Just maybe and the thought might be only a dream; Justin Trudeau will redesign politics with some of that important needed change given the current support his party is receiving in every poll since Justin’s selection as party leader.
This is the promised outline of the reasons I felt qualified to write this blog. I first began writing as a part-time young social columnist covering youth activity graduating to municipal political coverage for the Ajax Advertiser in the 1950’s. In the 1960’s and 70s I wrote volumes of reports for employers. Writing was always a prerequisite for accomplishing assignments while working for almost a decade and a half as a career civil servant.
Two of my “hobby writing” articles were published in two successive Northern Ontario Anthology publications by Northern College of Timmins in the late 1970’s. That initial success was followed by the publishing of my collection of fictional stories based on actual Northern Ontario events. The coffee table collection was published as a book titled Mines and Blazing Pines by a well known Northern Ontario publishing firm. Those milestones were followed by the publishing of my first two novels, The Place by a Victoria BC publisher and Disaster Legacy by A Calgary Alberta publisher. At the time I had become editor and publisher of a Northern Ontario community newspaper that developed into a successful media publication now owned by a major media corporation and is still in existence. After selling the newspaper and retiring I wrote and published three more E book novels titled Merlin in Disguise available on Kobo, Vacation Inn and Marauder Woman both available on Amazon Kindle.