Sunday, December 7, 2008

Neither right nor left but on some middling ground

Tragically, we have been subject to the worst that politics has to offer. We have seen a government squander a financial legacy, call an election that was not necessary, use its position to promote disunity, and, worst of all, spread misinformation and untruths about our political system. We have also watched as a weakened opposition chose to defeat the minority government through a controversial process that is not well understood by many Canadians.

We have two main philosophies at play here, both on opposite ends of the role of government in the marketplace and the tools available to each. Is it ok for the government to help out big banks but not other industries, such as manufacturing or forestry? And, is it ok for them to do it by selling off the public's sureties? On the other hand, must we spend our country's future by creating a $30+ billion deficit with little assurance that it will stabilize our economy?

The Canadian government, while cranking up its rhetoric, has done little to provide economic stimulus, besides its corporate tax cuts and cuts to the GST, which has been viewed by most economists in Canada, including the Parliamentary Budget Officer, has having little impact on the economy. The $75 billion infusion into the banking system still has yet to be explained to the Canadian public as to where the money came from and, its impact on the ability of the central bank to support further government initiatives.

The opposition, meanwhile, being diametrically opposed to the laissez-faire attitude of the Conservatives, decided to take matters into their own hands, using a parliamentary process that has not been seen in federal politics for a long time. Would a coalition stay focused on the job at hand? What would be the impact of a majority of MPs showing non-confidence in a minority government and offering an alternative to an election? This is still an option that could play out in the next sitting of the House of Parliament, depending of course on whether the Governor-General decides to follow the suggestion of the Prime Minister or decides that the public cannot stomach another election and allows a coalition to form an alternative government. Has anyone presented a long-term impact of this scenario?

On the other hand, has Stephen Harper tried reaching out, in spite of the conciliatory rhetoric, and actually proposed some policies? Or must he continue poking the opposition in the eye, because sooner or later, the victim of his abuse is going to be provoked beyond any means of conciliation?

Surely, there must be some middle ground here. We need people to reach beyond the rhetoric and start proposing ideas and entering into meaningful dialogues. We are on the brink of economic and political collapse; we must move away from the edge of the precipice and reason our way to something that works for everyone.

In the long term, perhaps we need to strike a committee to look at parliamentary reform - rep. by pop. - and that could occupay a small component of the MPs from all parties. However, we need something in the short term to decide the future of our industries and people. We cannot wait for seven weeks. We must start acting now!

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