Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Sleeping with the Enemy?

There have been a lot of metaphors thrown around Canadian politics these days - one of the less-examined has been that of the CPC and BQ being 'in bed together'. It is my intent to explore the validity of this particular statement - I got to thinking about it especially after my Uncle used it to speak poorly about these two parties when the topic of Canadian politics came on the weekend.

I am not a political purist (as those of you who know me hopefully realize already). I tend to support whatever politician (and to a lesser extent, whatever party) I think will most effectively further my political vision. I don't happen to consistently fall under the umbrella of any party, although it would be safe to classify me as a CPC supporter currently. If I come across as an apologist for the above parties, it's because I think the above metaphor is being used simplistically and generally, wrongly.

Are BQ MP's legitimate parliamentarians? They were elected properly according to Canada's electoral system. Although there have been cranks arguing otherwise, if there was some good reason to doubt their validity, they could be, and should have been, removed from office. Therefore, a certain segment of Canada's population (in Quebec) were willing to cast their vote for these candidates. If nobody is contesting their validity, why should everybody treat them like they have the plague and not work with them? Is it possible that BQ goals may sometimes be consistent with, say, CPC, goals? Could (at least some of) their goals be consistent with a vision of Canada that will see Quebec as a strong and vital part of Canada? Can Canada's political system, in light of the current scandals, honestly afford not to look at ideas that may help to clean it up and renew it? In fact, conservatives often argue against a large central government precisely because it invites unaccountable corruption and regional bickering.

Many people who see the CPC and BQ working together to bring down the Liberals, see it as a betrayal of Canadian interests. Is it fair to assume that those in Quebec who vote for the BQ share all of its aspirations, including the most relevant one, which is the separation of Quebec from Canada? If the past is any guide, more people are willing to vote for the BQ, and their strong pro-Quebec views, than are willing to vote for outright separation. From this alone, it should be concluded that some, perhaps many, BQ supporters see them as a vehicle to advance Quebec's interests in Canada, without accepting the final goal of separation. They've had several opportunities to vote for separation and haven't done so, even aside from the questions of the legality of such a vote if it did succeed. If the voters themselves don't necessarily see a vote for the BQ as a vote to separate from Canada, why should another party completely avoid them? Wouldn't it make more sense to engage their concerns, and find ways to blend these with a stronger Canada? Isn't Stephen Harper one of the main brains behind the Clarity Act, which I'm told is one of the more effective tools in keeping separatist ambitions honest? Doesn't his record here give him some credibility in dealing with the separatists?

The CPC is in favour of less government, and more local autonomy. This, in itself, is a view that can arguably be shared by the BQ and the CPC, without necessarily leading to a broken Canada. It could be argued that the current path isn't doing a great job, and with the Liberal scandals, actually seems to be making things worse. Conversely, the NDP/Liberal image of a strong (and monstrously large) central government, has done much to feed local (Western, Quebec) alienation and desires for separation, since the central government doesn't seem capable of limiting its role on its own. Could it not be argued that continued large central government intrusions will contribute more to Canada's break-up than any regional movements?

For the time being, it appears as though the CPC and BQ share the singular goal of bringing down the Liberal minority government. This is the right, and duty I'd argue, of the opposition parties. Indeed, until the NDP found they could get monetary promises from the Liberals, they were united with the CPC and BQ in seeking the end of Liberal rule. Or should the CPC automatically oppose bringing the government down, simply because the BQ favour it? If the Liberals fall from power (long overdue), we can reasonably assume that all three opposition parties will gain at their expense. While possible, a CPC majority doesn't seem likely at this point. Instead, we would probably have a CPC minority, which would be dependent on some opposition support for each particular initiative. This situation would almost certainly lead to less centralization, as both the CPC and BQ have a stake in less federal power.

I don't think the CPC and BQ is opportunistic, in the sense of personal party gain for power's sake. As the duly-elected representatives of 50% of the country, they have the duty to hold the government to account, and if necessary, to defeat that government to force a new election (where, once again, WE get to decide Parliament's make-up). If we're not in favour of voting/paying for elections, I should expect to see at least as much concern over the 4 opportunistically-called elections of the Liberals since they came to power in 1993. Paying for the right to vote is one of the necessary costs of living in a democracy. If it's what it takes to get good government, or at least better government, then that's one tax dollar I don't mind paying.


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Wednesday, October 19, 2005 12:42:00 a.m.  

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