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Recovering backpacker, Cornwallite at heart, political enthusiast, catalyst, writer, husband, father, community volunteer, unabashedly proud Canadian. Every hyperlink connects to something related directly or thematically to that which is highlighted.

Wednesday 12 September 2012

Perscription for Canadian Politics


The Liberals, NDP and the Greens - and for that matter, the Conservatives - are wrapped up in tribal competition for dominance at the expense of the far-reaching policy solutions needed today.  That's politics, I guess.  When it comes to tribal warfare, it's hard to beat the Team Harper message of be lean and mean and keep internal and external threats at bay.  That's their game; progressives will never win playing by the rules of fear-based politics.
Stephen Harper clearly does have a vision for Canada - one where our economic brand is that of hauling water and hewing wood, our foreign policy is based on standing against while domestically, might makes right and dogma trumps reason.  Yes, Team Harper apparently will listen to carefully-presented business cases, but they are choosing to ignore a good deal of evidence that flies in the face of their policy choices.
The "progressive" camp, meanwhile, is caught in political gridlock, poking fingers in each other's eyes instead of developing a unifying progressive vision.  Just as the stereotype tells us Canadians define themselves on not being the US, opposition parties are defining themselves based on what they aren't - not the Conservatives and not each other.  They need some shared idea of what Canada can be to rally behind - but what could that vision look like?
Even if the progressives in Canadian politics do find a common vision to rally behind, it's not enough to have a narrative - you need a platform as well, one that appeals to voters across the country.  It would be nice to see a platform that is representative of all Canadians, particularly youth who don't see the reality of their future represented in today's policy (and therefore, aren't voting).  How can progressives bring the political conversation to young Canadians in a way that reflects their values and embraces their social tools  while simultaneously tackling some of our structural sustainability issues?
It's not an easy row to hoe, this working together and planning proactively business, but if you're in politics, go big or go home.  You'll attract the best talent when you give them something significant to be part of.
Let's say this happens; the progressives find common ground, unite behind a shared vision and craft a viable platform to keep Canada moving forward.  The Conservatives' spin machine would come in to play, hitting the fear and threat of risk buttons.  If the vision is grand enough and the direction concrete enough - and if it's sold well - that won't matter.  Team Harper would need to find some policy ideas to appeal to the middle-of-the-road voters who have given them their coveted majority, yet doesn't alienate their base.  Whatever could the Conservatives propose that is reflective of their values yet progressive enough to counter a united opposition?
There are great opportunities for each Party out there - they can even benefit Canadians as they improve their own fortunes.  They just need to think a bit outside the box.

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