No moral high ground for Canada’s political parties

Par Duff Conacher le 18 décembre 2008


All federal political parties should have been working toward a democratic compromise over the Conservative minority government's economic and political finance proposals, instead of continuing their poorly timed games.

While the Conservative's self-interested surprise proposal to cut the public per-vote funding of parties funding entirely went too far, the opposition parties overreacted. Given that the funding was set by then-Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chrétien at an arbitrarily high level in 2003 to help his party, the funding should be cut in half. This will give all the parties, especially smaller ones, a solid base of funding, while encouraging them to win more funding by winning the support of more voters.

Secondly, Prime Minister Harper must realize he does not have majority support, and that though the Liberals may be weak it doesn't mean he can shove the Conservatives' agenda down everyone's throat. The opposition parties want at least some steps taken now to boost the sagging economy, and so the Conservatives' should take their views into account.

Third, the opposition parties must realize that even though the Prime Minister broke his word and at least the spirit of his fixed-election date law in September by advising the Governor General to call an election, it is no better for them to have gone into the Governor General and ask her to make the then sort-of Liberal leader Stéphane Dion the Prime Minister based on a very likely short-term, shaky alliance with the NDP and Bloc Québecois.

In other words, none of the parties really have a strong moral hand to play, and so they shouldn't be betting that they will come out of this situation a winner.

And while they're making these democratic compromises in the public's (not their own) interest, maybe they could try to avoid future similar messes by all acting more honestly, ethically, openly, representatively and efficiently. Doing this will very likely impress more voters than their current party games, and may even have the positive benefit for all of attracting the support (and donations) of some of the more than 40 percent of voters who didn't vote in the last election.



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