Saturday, June 24, 2006

The Con con.

This Globe and Mail article underscores the problems with the contemporary conservative movement. (Ignoring the soft fascist movement in the US.) Instead of trying to draft sensible, reality-based policies, the Canadian Cons are interested in vote-buying and currying favour with the electorate. While I have no particular problems with the latter if they end up indistinguishable from the former, in practice this is often not the case. Vote-buying is, on the whole, an exercise in gamesmanship and political strategy. And it is disappointing, but not surprising, to see the federal Cons try to pull off a majority government by this means, rather than accepting their minority status and trying to establish something ideologically respectable.

What's disturbing, of course, is that it might actually work, which will screw us all over for four years. Majority governments in Canada can be elected with around 40% of the popular vote, and they can strongarm anything they want through Parliament by whipping the caucus. Thus, majority governments are profoundly antidemocratic and tend to become ossified in their political values, as well as dictatorial in their policy procedures. It happened to the Chretien Liberals, it happened to the Mulroney Tories, and it will happen to the Harper Cons. Remaining in a state of constant minority governments, forcing parties of different ideologies with differing constituencies to negotiate and work together to produce policy compromise, will, overall, be best for Canada. I only hope that Harper et al. will lose their blind ambition for power and come to this realization (or that Hell will freeze over and Jack Layton will figure out how to win an NDP majority for the first time in Canadian electoral history).

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