What Do We Want For Government?

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Lately I’ve been reading more and more Canadian political blog sites. One of the most disturbing elements of these blogs has been the vitriol with which Liberals attack Conservatives and Conservatives attack Liberals, East blasts the West, the West blasts the East, and on and on.

None of this is constructive, except to allow the venting of emotions, which are often excuses for lack of knowledge or understanding of a particular issue. We have our philosophies on what constitutes good government, or governance based on todays realities. Some are very cynical, others are full of spinning, and others are optimistic, if only they had a chance. Clearly, there is no consensus.

What I would like to start is a philosophical discussion, by all political persuasions, that would eventually lead to some consensus that would allow us to hypothetically affect change in the way we are governed, so that discussion could be based on reason, rather than emotion.

Changing what is is extremely difficult, and any changes started today would take at least 25 years to implement, so I’m not under any illusion that we are going to affect real change; but for our purposes, we can establish a framework that might elicit more rational discussion.

To introduce this, allow me to present a political philosophy that measures left-right issues differently than we do today.

Instead of using the Communist – Nazi extremes that we do today, let’s start with a balanced centre that defines the fundamental role of government, and the extremes would be totalitarian government (left) versus anarchy(right). A horizontal teeter-totter would be a good analogy.

If we believe that we should be sensitive to the needs of the poor we are on the left side of the balanced centre for that issue; if we believe that we should 1) weigh the costs of our programs and 2) determine how any policy, or program, will affect the rights and individual freedom of all citizens (not just minorities) then we would consider ourselves to the right of the balanced centre.

We can be on both sides of the issue on the need to look after the poor, and not be contradictory, and the result would keep us from wandering too far from the balanced centre. Any program instituted by government would be weighed in the balance to ensure its propriety.

This is very primitive in its form, but the idea here is to start a process that will allow for the evolution of a philosophy that can catch on and be meaningful, with principles from which to argue our points of view.

So the question to begin is: ‘What would constitute the balanced centre in a constitutional democracy that Canada represents?’

5 thoughts on “What Do We Want For Government?

  1. What a pleasant level-headed view.

    I have also been traversing the land of Canadian political weblogs. I must wholeheartedly agree with your findings. Most often issues are a lot more complex than they read. The best cure for our political woes is to inject some good people into the system. A good example of this was the late Angus MacLean. http://archives.cbc.ca/IDC-1-73-906-5296/politics_economy/elections_pei/clip2

    I was born and raised in the maritimes, and have lived in all three prairie provinces, and the USA. Our country is becoming more and more divided, and opportunistic politicians are capitalising on it.

    I’m not sure which polticial party is the way to go anymore. NDP are not a serious option, the Liberals have a legacy of mediocrity, and I’m afraid the Tories are a little too friendly with the Americans.

    Begin the thawing of John Diefenbaker, the last Prime Minister who wasn’t owned by business interests, Americans, or literati.

    Anyways…

    That’s my comment.

  2. Anonymous,

    Good points on John, but remember the cabinet he put together (I believe it was in ’59) that resulted in the loss of the Avro Arrow and all the brain power behind it.
    His intentions were good, but the result was disaterous and kept the Conservatives out of power for decades.

  3. Further to your point, though, if we were to gain a philosophical foundation that would allow people to weigh in the balance the value of any particular policy or program based on principles and not emotion, we could, IMHO, see it from both sides.
    I fully realize that most issues are very complex, and mine would appear to a very simplistic approach, but I am also aware of the brain power that exists in this country, and if we were to ignite a spark then, hopefully, brighter minds than mine could expand the flame so that good men would run.
    (Talk about a run on sentence)

  4. The fundamental reason that political discussion is so polar in Canada is the fact that we have only two parties that matter. Unfortunately, these parties also seem to be geographical as much as political.

    As long as the average voter has to cram themselves into one of the two major parties in order to be the party in power, we are going to have these Hatfield-McCoy scenarios repeating themselves over and over. Policy takes a back seat to villifying the ‘other’ party, because throwing mud is just so damn effective in a two party system. And so efficient as well – there’s only one target and it’s easy to play the ‘Good guys’ ‘Bad guys’ game.

    The fundamental change I’d like to witness in Canadian politics is the rise of a true multi-party system, where issues are the driving force in the election of the government rather than party allegiances.

    Minority governments can be effective, and I think our country needs a real lesson in consensus building.

  5. Rick,

    In so many ways you are right, but when I look at the history of Italy and France, as well as Israel currently, minority gov’ts are not very efficient either…which in this case may be an argument for your point.
    The population base is too heavily weighted in Eastern Canada, particularly among minority groups, who tend to vote in blocks.
    The Liberals did a great job of winning them over in the 70’s and 80’s. If Mulroney hadn’t screwed up with the GST, the PC’s could have retained some credibility in the East and we wouldn’t be in the schmoze we’re in now.
    Unfortunately the West will remain the weak sister until 2050 when the population shift is estimated to supercede the East.

    Anonymous,
    It appears everyone wants to use your name, and with some flattery, have us advertise for them.
    This is what will give free enterprise a bad name.
    If you are wanting us to advertise for you, be up front, pay for it, and make Kim a rich man.

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