Saturday, May 7, 2011

A Canadian spin on American Style Politics


Any American ex-pats out there are going to feel right at home here in Canada over the next five years. We've been handed two big parties, one on the right, one on the left. Cue the useless bickering over policy and ideology.
As you know, the Conservative party has won a majority government, and the New Democrats have unseated the Liberals as the official opposition.
NDP has many more seats but strangely, less power. When they held the balance of power during the Conservative Minority they had to be listened to and respected. Now Harper can pass pretty much anything just like he wanted. Let's hope he's seen Spider-Man.
The political earthquakes of the last few elections have taken us from the centrist leadership of the Liberals under Jean Chretien to a polarized House of Commons with the Conservatives on the right and the New Democrats on the left.
This will be deeply familiar to the Americans who have been bouncing back and forth between the economic populism of the Democrats and pro-business Republicans since William McKinley's election in 1896.
The bickering in the U.S. can be extreme. Moderate voices don't get ratings. Hopefully in Canada we can rise above that and develop policies that will be better for all Canadians thanks to the input and perspective provided by both sides.
Rather than looking for opportunities to play politics and attack other parties, lets hope that we can put the divisiveness of the election behind us. Whether you were among the 40% of voters who voted for a Conservative candidate or not, your MP still represents you, and the Harper Government is still your government.
It may feel good to grumble about politics over coffee or in the newspapers, but to actually trying to change something, you'll have to do better than that. Use the system. Write letters to your representatives. Give them the information they need to do their job (representing you) most effectively.
Spider-Man, in the movie, was warned that with great power comes great responsibility. (Spinning webs any size and catching thieves just like flies might be part of Harper's tough-on-crime agenda, but that wasn't the point of the reference.)
The challenge for our elected representatives is to rise above partisan politics and figure out a responsible way to take Canada forward without hamstringing business, abandoning the helpless, or neglecting the environment.
This is a big challenge, and our representatives will need all the help they can get. Here's hoping they succeed.
You might also like:
What do we care about? (Originally written with municipal politics in mind, but connects with federal politics as well.)
Neighbourhood Plant Swap - It is spring after all...

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