Friday, September 26, 2008

Election Fever

In general, I have kept this blog focussed on ecclesiastical issues.

That said, I have always been passionate and partisan about secular politics.

For me, the connection between faith and politics is fundamental. While recognizing that people of faith may disagree on which approach to public policy best serves the common good, I find the suggestion that people of faith should check their beliefs at the door is nothing short of bizarre.

Politically, I am a social democrat - which makes me a New Democrat up this way. For my American readers, that's a completely different thing than an American New Democrat and more like Senator Bernie Sanders - who I met when he was mayor of Burlington, Vermont.

Tommy Douglas - former premier of Saskatchewan, former federal New Democrat leader and a frequent visitor at our house when I was a child - had a very useful fable to explain why progressives should be wary of right wing parties that pretend to be progressive. (American friends may recognize the person who introduces the video.)

Over the past few elections, the Liberal Party of Canada has spent a lot of its time squeaking like mice. Squeaking like mice and claiming that the Conservative government was so very, very bad that New Democrats should abandon our own party and align ourselves with the Liberals. During this election, they are claiming that there is nothing in the world more dangerous than a Conservative majority government.

The last Canadian Parliament was a minority - meaning that the governing Conservative Party depended on one or another of the three opposition parties to get its legislation passed. Defeat on any major issue would mean that the government would fall, Parliament would be dissolved and an election would ensue.

Now, if the Liberals really believed that the Conservatives were so very, very bad, you'd think they would have sought every possible opportunity to defeat the government. You'd think that they would be in their places for every single vote, boldly attempting to bring the government down.

You'd think so.

You'd be wrong.

On 43 different occasions, the Liberals ensured that the Conservative government would survive - either by voting with them, by sitting on their hands and abstaining or, most often, by skulking behind the curtains and refusing to vote at all.

In essence, the Liberal Party gave the Conservatives a majority.

Despite however much they squeaked like mice, it turns out they still thought, and behaved, and ate like cats.

Over on my sidebar, you will see an icon for The Absent Opposition. There, you will be able to select one of 43 different videos showing how the Liberals compliantly handed the Conservatives a majority. Enjoy.

And if you are a progressive Canadian voter, don't be fooled by squeaking cats,


Country Parson said...

OK, so Canadians have a habit of electing cats and the NDP thinks it will do something about that. We Americans don't have that problem. Neither cats nor mice do we elect. It's rats we prefer.

Anonymous said...

Malcolm, does that mean that I needn't send you a "Vote Harper" lapel pin? I have lots...

Serously though, you are bang on in the assertion that "the connection between faith and politics is fundamental". Our beliefs should inform our whole life, and certainly shouldn't be put aside when contemplating where to cast our vote.

Fred Preuss said...
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Fred Preuss said...
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Malcolm+ said...


Fred seems to invest a lot of time wandering about the Anglican blogosphere declaiming that Anglicanism is irrelevant. Oddly, this irrelevance seems to consume a lot of his time.

I would ask, Fred, that when you post comments on my blog, you make some vague effort at coherence. If you can manage that.

Fred Preuss said...
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Malcolm+ said...

The post didn't say anything about religious institutions influencing debates. It focussed on the failure of the Liberal Party of Canada to do its job as HM's Loyal Opposition in the last Parliament. What is it you claim to be responding to?

Have you sought medical help for this strange obsessive behaviour of yours?

Anonymous said...

...never feed the trolls...

Fred Preuss said...
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Tim Chesterton said...

Malcolm, have you considered the possibility that HM Loyal Opposition were smart enough to know that the Canadian electorate didn't have the stomach to face another election 43 times over the past couple of years? And that bringing down the government would have resulted in an election that would have consumed $400M of taxpayers' money and produced exactly the same situation?

I think that simply to say they were derelict in their duty 43 times is overly simplistic. And let's not forget who put the Tories in in the first place - the NDP.

Malcolm+ said...

Well, let's start with the last half first.

The accusation that the NDP put the Conservatives in power is a useful Liberal talking point. But it has nothing to do with reality.

1. Had every single New Democrat voted with the Liberals in that final confidence motion, the Martin government would have fallen anyway. Chuck adman, the independent MP who made the previous vote a tie, was now dead. In addition, several Liberal MPs had left the Liberal Party and were sitting as either Conservatives or independents. All of them, including your fellow Edmontinian David Kilgour, had made it clear they would vote against confidence.

So, the New Democrats were, ultimately, an irrelevance to the survival of the Martin ministry.

2. The people of Canada elected the subsequent Parliament. Had it been the NDP, we'd have configured it differenty.

On the former point, the tactical cowardice of the Liberals might be comprehensible if they weren't wandering about the countryside claiming that several of these matters were of tremendous import, and the Conservative agenda the very destruction of Canadian society.

No. The real Liberal motivation was their own inept organization and their anemic fundraising.