Democracy is something that is easy to take for granted. One can merely consult the voter turnout trend to confirm this opinion as fact. Our voice is there to be heard if we only exercise the right to use it. However, many of us choose not to ignore this right, whether by apathy, by spite or by sheer convenience to ourselves and to our schedules. Lest we have forgotten the sacrifices made by our brothers, fathers, great- and grandfathers, we all have a duty to make time for what they have fought. On June 28th, I will vote.
The Liberals have governed this country for the past 11 years. Whether some of their policies have strengthened or weakened this society and country can always be put to partisan debate. What is unequivocal, however, is that democracy, without competition, is a shadow of what was intended and what was defended. The last 11 years have bred a form of establishment politics which has tempted those with power to use it to benefit their friends, their party and their interests in place of those they claim to represent. An alternative choice to this stale and tired option has not existed for many years, yet now there exists an opportunity for real democratic change. The Conservative Party of Canada intends to reform the system of establishment politics and intends to return the democratic balance between elected and elector. With a Conservative government, fixed election dates would be established in order to restore competition to the system. Indeed, the current election date was a calculated choice among many to dilute the fallout and to circumvent future fallout from the sponsorship scandal. Plus, it had the added benefit of hoping to avoid voters at the ballot box; the electorate will be busy at the cottage and/or with their children, eager themselves to get a fresh start on summer vacation. The election date has been manipulated to dodge the anger against the status quo of Liberal political monopoly.
Fixed election dates would only be the beginning of this restoration of balance; the Conservatives would bring decision making back into the public forum. Currently, any active legislation can be abrogated by the will of the senate, an unelected body appointed by the Prime Minister. The Conservatives want to elect this chamber to restore provincial balance within the system, while the NDP would merely dissolve it completely. The Liberals, however, would keep it as it is in order to continue the practice of patronage (see benefit of one’s friends, above). A senate based upon provincial equality would allow more accountability of the federal government to represent the recipients of transfer payments. The Conservatives also seek to allow parliamentary review of judicial appointment, a right held today exclusively by the Prime Minister.
But what about Stephen Harper’s hidden agenda? Anyone can have a hidden agenda. The hidden agenda of the Liberals was thankfully revealed in time for this election. If a conservative candidate espouses any aberrant view on those “hot-button” issues such as abortion and gay-marriage, it becomes fuel for the fire to those who claim that Stephen Harper has a hidden agenda. Stephen Harper is an economist from Calgary. His favorite economist is Adam Smith who promoted “laissez faire” economics. I believe that Stephen Harper is a Conservative who believes that the government should keep out of people’s business, both economic and social. Stephen Harper says that the issue of abortion has been settled and that neither he nor his government would table legislation on abortion. As for gay marriage, the issue has not been settled by parliament and thus Stephen Harper would allow the people to decide by a free vote amongst all members of the House of Commons (ie. not by his government). This seems to be a fair and democratic compromise between about equal proportions on two polar viewpoints. So, what is hidden? Did you know that Liberal MPs Paul Steckle and Tom Wappel would vote to restrict a woman’s right to choose? Even NDP candidate Des McGrath would vote against alongside Steckle and Wappel against abortion. Let’s move on from this issue of hidden agenda, however, as it is a red herring issue to distract from the Liberal’s uncovered agenda.
Is the issue healthcare? How does Paul Martin not blink when he tells Canadians that the Liberals will “fix healthcare for a generation”? The Liberals have spent a generation reducing transfer payments to the provinces to 16 cents on the dollar, from what used to be 50 cents. Who wrote the budgets over the past generation? Paul Martin.
The issue is government accountability. No government can remain in power indefinitely without becoming stale and arrogant. Paul Martin culled the house committee on public accounts which was investigating the sponsorship scandal because he said he needed a mandate from the people to accomplish this goal. Rather, I believe the mandate should given to the Conservative Party of Canada because it is the party of Parliamentary reform. This party deserves this mandate and would exercise it most effectively.
News today out of British Columbia describes Paul Martin’s plea to NDP supporters in that province to vote Liberal because an NDP vote will essentially be a vote for Stephen Harper.
“There are two parties that could form the next government, and if you are thinking of voting NDP, I would ask you to think about the implications of that vote … In a race as close as this, you may well help Stephen Harper become prime minister.” — Paul Martin, leader of the Liberal Party of Canada
The NDP front is yet another battle for Paul Martin in his battle against Stephen Harper. One the Quebec front, the Liberals issued this release today on the Liberal website which states,
“A vote for the Bloc is a vote to stop Canada�s momentum. It is a vote to allow Stephen Harper to form a government that, simply for ideological reasons, will increase military spending and lower taxes to levels well beyond what our economy can afford” — Stéphane Dion and Pierre Pettigrew, former and current Liberal cabinet ministers
Meanwhile, the current Liberal attack ad in Ontario draws parallels between former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and former Ontario Premier Mike Harris with Stephen Harper.
Paul Martin’s team is trying desperately to convince voters to vote against the Conservatives by not voting for the NDP or for the Bloc. What they may not realize is that voters are voting for these parties to, in fact, prevent the Liberals from retaining power rather than to prevent the Conservatives from attaining power. Everyone knows how close this horse race is now and a majority of Canadians believe that this Liberal government needs to be removed. Those that are voting NDP and especially those that are voting Bloc are well aware that this would mean a Conservative government, whether minority or majority.