Friday, January 20, 2006

Who Stands for Canada?

If Harper is elected Prime Minister we will witness a curious circumstance, wherein a national leader essentially conducts himself like a Premier. The Harper view contends that the federal government should stick to its sole jurisdictions and leave the provinces alone to act in their own self interest. Harper approaches federalism through the lens of a regionalist, and with that the narrow perspective that lacks an overarching philosophy.

The notion of an elected Senate, based on regional considerations, cements a fractured view of federalism. Senators will compete within a framework that rewards regional affiliation. Thoughts of the nation are secondary, and we institute another layer that supports "tribalism". You could argue an elected Senate speaks to equality and adding voices, but I think the reality is further fracturing of a national identity.

Most historians and political scientists agree that over time the provinces have become more powerful, at the expense of the federal government. Whether the measure is something as concrete as tax percentages, or less empirical measures like posturing at First Ministers conferences, it is clear that we are headed to what Trudeau referred to as "a loose collection of provinces". Within this context, it is particularly disturbing that we have a federal leader who thinks we need further dissolution of power. Harper's perspective sounds like a disgruntled Premier who wants complete control, with no interference. This view speaks to the roots of this new patchwork Conservative party. Harper's view is the old Reform view, an extension of the Klein approach, regionalism at the expense of nation. This party is not a national party in its vision, but a vehicle to counteract alienation and a sense of unfairness.

We live in a fascinating age where the terms international, multilateral and unions are commonplace. The world seems smaller, technology affords us greater interaction and the idea of a world community is in its infancy. This is why the Harper approach is so disturbing, and frankly backward. It seeks to divide us into narrow sub-groups, acting primarily from immediate self interest, with no greater sense of our commonality. Canada is the world's greatest example of mosaic, heralded for its tolerance and accepting nature. How is this ideal served with a government who believes the government of Canada shouldn't interfere with its own regions? How is that a progressive idea? How do these views unite people by highlighting similarity, instead of differences? Who stands for Canada?

4 comments:

timm-eh! said...

From King Ed:

"Mr. Martin accuses the New Democratic Party of partisanship. Were it not for the NDP putting its interests aside and putting working people’s interests first, the Liberal Party would have been fed to voters last spring.

It now is. And it has run a campaign that at best is incoherent, and at worst is deeply offensive. To women. To members of our armed forces. And to people who long for intellectual honesty in politics once more.

It is clear the Liberal Party no longer has the moral authority to deserve people’s votes. It is, simply, not the party it used to be or the party it portrays.

Mr. Martin’s team is running a campaign based on intellectual dishonesty. Cynical manipulation. And recklessly using significant issues for the sole purpose of continuing Liberal entitlement – which we know is used to benefit Liberal insiders, not working people."

Oh no you didn't! LOL!

progressiveu said...

Paul Martin has no credibility left

Let’s look at the rhetoric and the reality:

They say we would “Allow a front door vote on same sex marriage.”
We won’t, they did. Paul Martin and the Liberals already allowed a free vote on same-sex marriage and 33 Liberal MPs voted against this Charter right.

They say we would “Allow a back door vote on a woman’s right to choose.”
We won’t, they did. Paul Martin and the Liberals have already allowed these votes – repeatedly – and 13 Liberal MPs (including current Cabinet Ministers Albina Guarineri and Joe Volpe) say they’ll vote against choice again.


They say we would “Cancel the national Early Learning and Childcare Plan.”
We won’t, and they didn’t do anything for over a decade in power and only began to put their national child care plan in place under NDP pressure in a minority government.

They say we would “pull Canada out of Kyoto and kill $2 billion of funding to combat climate change”.
We won’t, and their commitment to Kyoto has been entirely nominal. Since Paul Martin became Prime Minister Canada’s emissions have increased faster than the United States. When he was campaigning against Jean Chretien, Paul Martin did his best to undermine Kyoto.

They say we would “join with George Bush and put Canada into the American Missile Defence Shield.”
We won’t, they did. On February 24, 2004, 105 Liberals voted against an NDP-supported motion to “oppose the proposed American antimissile defence shield and cease all discussions with the Bush administration on possible Canadian participation.” The nays were led by a troika of Prime Minister Paul Martin, then-Defence Minister John McCallum and former Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham.

They say we would help Stephen Harper “turn his back on the Kelowna agreement with Canada’s aboriginal peoples.”
We won’t, and nothing would have happened at Kelowna if the NDP hadn’t forced the deplorable conditions at Kashechewan onto the front pages and shamed the Liberal government into long-overdue action.

Steve V said...

These comments are wonderful, but how to they relate to Harper's vision? Why, whenever a issue is raised do people simply deflect with Martin bashing? A criticism of Harper doesn't necessarily translate into an endorsement of Martin.

Paul Vincent said...

What the hell is "the national identity." Since when have Canadians identified themselves as Canadian meaning anything other than being from this country? Having a decentralized federal government has never been a bad thing. If you talk to ANY politican scientist in the field of federalism they will tell you that the provinces are best to deal with their own problems.

There is a old principle called "subsidiarity." This means that you let people do what they can do themselves and only do what they cannot do themselves. This is a general governing principle so as the government does not get too big and too controlling of people's lives.

We must also admit that Canada is strongly tribal. We're not falling in to tribalism we are already there. All of Alberta is blue (except one district). Most of Quebec flares Bloc. Atlantic Canada flares red. Quebecers, Albertans, and Newfoundlanders all have "nationalist agendas."

Paul Martin has been fighting these agendas instead of working with them. He never once considered that there was actually something wrong with the current state of Canadian federalism. Three provinces do not feel they belong in Canada (although media generally only covers Quebec) and Martin uses this as a tool to fight against "separatism." In all reality Gilles Duceppe makes good points and Harper is willing to embrace tribalism as long as it can continue to support the larger whole. Standing up for Canada means standing up for Canadians. Your problem is that you are plagued with just one view of federalism and you think that is how it ought to be.... when it is pretty clear to us that it doesn't work (IE: Atlantic Accord)