April 21st, 2024

An amateur’s view about party politics


By Lethbridge Herald on March 6, 2024.

Editor:

A friend told me about the event that made him happy at the church. His member of Parliament asked him to do a piece of work. He was a lifelong supporter of the party and felt he won the party’s trust. My reaction to this episode was a bit complicated. He is a good man and a good friend, and I was happy for him. But I support another party.

Though my honest reaction to my friend’s happiness was complicated, I was glad for two reasons. At the church, we share a table as a family. My friend presumed that I would share his happiness. This is Canada of the 21st century. Politics should not divide the fellowship of the same faith. Secondly even if he knew my political affiliation, politics does not divide us in personal relationships. We trust each other despite a different political view. It’s like a family. We may quarrel but make up soon and sit at the same table.

However, this episode also points out the problem we have in North America in our practice of “party politics.” In both Canada and the United States, it has degenerated into tribal warfare. The opposing party is seen as a nest of vipers that must be destroyed and eradicated. Emotion that accompanies hostility against the other party and its members. It’s categorical and not conditional. Whatever the opposition members say has absolutely no merit. Whatever the leaders of your own party says is absolutely right, even if it’s a mistake or bad for the country. The victory of the party is the goal, not so much as the well-being of the whole people. The government is of the people, by the people, and for the people. Not for a party. What is happening now is simply a travesty of the art of government.

Is the solution non-partisan politics? There are many examples. At the time of the American Declaration of Independence, there was no political party, neither was it a concern in the U.S. constitution. Many municipal governments are non-partisan. The North-West Territorial government does not have political parties. Another model is the government with multi-party coalitions like the ones practiced in many European countries, Israel included. Parliament is elected by proportional representation and small parties have considerable power. In such a system, no one can afford to treat other parties in a hostile manner as enemies because there is always a possibility to form a government with them as coalition partners.

You have to treat other parties in a civilized manner.  In some countries, political parties are coalitions of slightly different ideologies. Liberal Democratic Party of Japan is a coalition of many center-right factions. Often negotiations between factions within the party are more serious than between parties. However, I suspect that those models of party politics can not happen in Canada in the current atmosphere. So what to do?

In democracy, the raison-d’etre of the government is to serve people. Not the competition between different interests. Political parties exist only for expedience, not as necessity. Even within a political party, there are different opinions. It is the human condition that we are all different.

A hundred people have a hundred different opinions. Likewise between different parties, there are common grounds. When I was working for the Canadians Council of Churches, I had a few occasions when I was invited to attend meetings of members of Parliament from different parties who were active in the church. They were, for example, the group of MPs with clergy status from all parties led by a Roman Catholic priest who was also an MP from NDP. Another one was a group of MP’s from all parties trying to reach a common understanding of the Israel-Palestine conflict led by a senator from the Progressive Conservative Party. In both cases, I was surprised how much consensus existed among the members of different parties on specific issues. The message from those informal gatherings was: it is more important to strengthen their positions from the perspective of their faith within the parties. I never thought like that when the battles are apparently more fiercely fought between parties than within them.

So stay civil and watch the language,  because we are in the same family and differences are normal.”

Tadashi (Tad) Mitsui

Lethbridge

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buckwheat

Well stated. We need to get away from dividing the populace into smaller voting blocks and then collecting them to win votes. Divisiveness works, unfortunately.

biff

a significant piece of the issue

biff

well said. in fact, when we had a democratic solution during the harper years, whereby the harper minority was about to be usurped by a coalition representing the voting majority, harper prorogued with the useless governor general’s approval. a real democracy would have honoured the majority. but with our farce of a system, one person one vote is not the reality. we are not a democracy for numerous reasons, and our first past the post system is one glaring example. it is unacceptable that our system produces “majority” govts with as little as 38% of the votes cast.

Last edited 1 month ago by biff
Fedup Conservative

You have nailed it. While Klein was destroying us some of our senior friends were working at the polling stations and they stated that the only people they were seeing voting were seniors and with their easy to fool ignorance they were keeping Klein in power even while members of his own family we’re trying to help our family vote him out. That’s how stupid it was.

Politics Buff

Well said as usual Mr. Mitsui. Your thoughtful words are always more welcome. A question though…If we are so concerned about partisan politics in our Federal and Provincial systems – Why are we even entertaining the idea of having political parties in our municipal governance???

I for one am thoroughly disgusted with the current state of our political rhetoric. Where exactly are the grown-ups?m

Fedup Conservative

My sister who spent countless hours volunteering for the Lougheed and Getty governments has constantly said that we have got to get rid of these political parties and allow the people to vote for the right person for the job like they do at the municipal levels. These political parties, especially since these Reformers who have taken over control of our conservative parties are financially destroying us while they look after the rich and don’t care about the wellbeing of anyone else. I fully agree with her and you I think it’s a huge problem.

ReallyReally

Always interesting to read your considered thoughts Tad and to hear more yet regarding your life experiences.
You make some worthwhile observations and suggestions. I think though that you are relating to an ideal state, a best case scenario when you theorize that we are capable of doing better. For such best case scenarios to evolve we need leadership that is far less willing to rely upon duplicity and indoctrination of the masses as their go to formula. We need integrity in leadership… in action, not merely in well-rehearsed media released rhetoric. As biff correctly notes, we do not have governments elected that represent the majority of Canadians due to a flawed electoral system, plus the massive influence of corporate sponsorship and intimidation of our politicians. And of course we get the governments we DO NOT DESERVE.
You speak of your experiences. You mention that differences are “normal”. People’s experiences too are different. Some people are simply no longer willing to experience so called leadership, and their indoctrinated base that practise wilful ignorance and hypocritical stances — they call them out on that behaviour. C.S. Lewis believed that one of the most cowardly things ordinary people do is to shut their eyes to facts. George Orwell wrote, “In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act.” I suggest that it is time that our leaders start the revolution.

John P Nightingale

Summed up the current partisanship on display in the US and , sadly, north of the 49th. Not a pretty picture.

Fedup Conservative

I have had dozens of people call me a traitor for calling myself a conservative but not being dumb enough to automatically support them when there is nothing conservative about them. That’s a huge problem in Alberta as my father pointed out. These fools are supporting the word conservative and ignore the fool who is hiding behind it that’s how Liberal Ralph Klein got elected. Dad didn’t live long enough to see Liberal Jason Kenney get elected. As a lawyer friend said there is nothing dumber than an Alberta senior pretending he is a conservative going around bad mouthing Liberals while he is supporting one, is there? Klein always called himself a Liberal but these fools didn’t care and now it’s costing them thousands of dollars in lost revenue.



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