Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Taking Canadian Politics Religiously

It occurred to me that many Canadians take their political allegiances as seriously as some people take their religion. Whether its Conservative, Liberal or NDP, all three have supporters who will vote for their party no matter what. Personally no single party has been able to hold my allegiance for more than a couple of elections in a row. I’ve written on here before that during my voting life I’ve marked an X beside all of the three aforementioned parties.

Here in cyberspace political blogs abound, but most I’m finding have a decidedly partisan bent. I myself have been accused of being ‘anti conservative’ by at least a couple of readers. While I can understand the rationale given some of my ‘Anti-Harper’ rants, I do not consider myself “anti” Conservative at all. While I am may not happy with the current leadership of the Tories, dislike or mistrust of an individual, (or individuals) should not be construed as being against any particular party.

All of Canada’s national parties have blogging groups, however I’ve decided to leave Canadian Soapbox non-aligned. At one point I did put up a Liblogs ‘button’, I saw it as a potential way to gain readership. I’ve since removed it, and I’m content with belonging to Progressive Bloggers.

On a personal level my political allegiances (or lack of same) have mirrored my religious observance and spirituality. I’ve attended numerous churches, everything from United and Baptist to Pentecostal and Roman Catholic. I’ve gone to a Jehovah’s Witness service (once) and to the Mormon Church (LDS) as well. I’ve even dabbled in alternative spiritualities like Paganism and Wicca. I’ve come to the conclusion that no single group has a monopoly on truth, be it in the political or spiritual realm.

I think my viewpoint is in line with the majority of Canadians, at least in terms of politics. If everyone always voted for the same party, then elections would be a useless exercise. As things currently stand I can find reasons to like certain positions of all our national parties, and other reasons to dislike them. It comes down to priorities. I know I will never find a party that perfectly mirrors my take on the issues, so I have to decide which issues are the most important to me.

On the issue of Canada’s military operation in Afghanistan, I am vehemently opposed. The stated reasons for our continued occupation are full of holes so big you could drive a gas pipeline through them. Which is of course why we’re there, and the NDP is the only viable national party opposed to our involvement. But the NDP makes no bones about its association with organized labour, which is something I’m not very keen on. Seeing how Canada’s unions have been operating during this economic crisis (the Ottawa Transit Strike being one example) I’m not at all confident in Jack Layton’s ability to manage Canada’s economy.

As far as the Conservatives are concerned, I would like to see less government and I do think lower taxes would benefit the economy. While I’m concerned about the rampant growth of government I haven’t seen much of a commitment on that front from the current crew of Tories. The Conservatives talk about less government, but deliver more. I’m also worried about the number of religious fanatics who have infiltrated the CPC, and their desire to open up issues like abortion and same-sex marriage...less government intrusion means less goverment intrusion, you can't pick and choose...sucking and blowing at the same time.

Then there’s the Liberals. Newly minted leader Michael Ignatieff has written that we in the west may have need to use “coercive” interrogation methods in the battle against terrorism. I’m opposed to torture, even when it’s spun in such a way as to use less offensive terms. I did however like the manner in which the Liberals managed to get this country’s financial house in order. Ralph Goodale was following in Paul Martin’s lead as finance minister, ensuring healthy surpluses each year thus enabling us to pare down the accumulated national debt. But it appears the Liberals are in favour of a deficit figure so huge it will wipe out all the gains we’ve made in the last 10-15 years.

It’s a shame Canada’s Green Party didn’t manage to win at least one seat in the last election. There’s a lot to like about the newest player on Canada’s political stage. I gave serious consideration to voting Green back in October, but in the end I couldn’t see them winning in my riding. Elizabeth May might have won a seat herself, had she not made the foolish decision to run against Peter McKay in a riding the Conservatives have held for generations. And the decision to closely associate the Greens with the Liberals was political suicide. Hopefully when the next election comes around the Greens will get their act together and give Canadians a viable alternative that’s fiscally conservative yet socially progressive.

Canadians disagree on a lot of key political issues, of that there is no doubt. But I’m certain there are areas where even the most divergently opposed groups can find common ground. It’s a shame there isn’t a political leader out there right now who can bridge the gaps that divide us. Maybe we can get Barack Obama to take out Canadian citizenship and run up here?

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