A Federal Election looms in Canada and the major parties are positioning their public images to capture the imaginations of the electorate. What else could be the objective when no leader has articulated a platform judgeable in terms of fundamental principles?
Consider Justin Trudeau and the Liberals by surveying the preoccupations of the government in recent years. The top issues (notwithstanding the SNC-Lavalin affair) would be those driving all the rest: gender “identities,” native populations and “climate change”.
The Liberal Party website reveals a mind-boggling number of issues presumed to be addressed by the Liberal government’s vision of “real change.”
The developing Conservative platform seems to reflect the generalization that many Canadians are concerned about certain issues, namely pipelines, the carbon tax and immigration. Leader Andrew Sheer’s simplistic idea seems to be that his party will just do a better job.
New Democratic Party (NDP) leader Jagmeet Singh has ideas tied to “minimum wage” legislation, housing policy and “climate change.” The official website offers the usual platitudes of: “. . . real difference for more people, . . . investing in . . . Canada . . ., a fairer society . . ..”
So much for the three major parties. I don’t think there is much to choose from among the Liberals, Conservatives and NDP. There are no intellectual positions to be found.
All major parties are petty advocates of State power over the individual whether that idea is explicitly stated or not. It is reflected in the narrow issues which involve State intervention in the economic and moral choices of Canadians.
What then of the minor parties? Maxime Bernier’s new party, the People’s Party of Canada (PPC), has gathered a quick following and successfully started fund-raising even before getting certification from Elections Canada.
Mr. Bernier and the PPC have zeroed in on economic issues domestically, with a view to relaxing trade barriers and repealing taxes, and on foreign policy, particularly immigration.
Mr. Bernier seems to be trying to establish a more principled approach to national politics. If you’re a Canadian thinking about how to vote later this year, you may want to watch this interview on the Rubin Report.
The Green Party and the Bloc Québécois are ahead of the PPC in so far as each has representation in Parliament. Environmentalism may gain more ground someday because of “climate alarmism” but Quebec nationalism seems destined to be an impractical annoyance until perhaps the entire country breaks apart due to official multiculturalism.
If principles are put forward with which most can agree, then compromises on application to specific political issues can be made, as long as the principle is always maintained.
So far, very little in the way of stated principles have been offered by the major parties. “Real change,” “we can do it better” and “a fairer society” are not articulations of a principle.
We do have an inkling of what the Bloc Québécois and the Green Party hold as fundamental principles by virtue of the basic focus of these organizations. Why will the Liberals and the Conservatives not offer something to distinguish themselves? Even the NDP could probably be pinned down to some principle of socialism, reprehensible as that is.
Maxime Bernier is getting closer with, for example, his statement of “personal responsibility” as a party principle for the PPC. Even that is pretty vague however. We sort of know what it means but it isn’t fully stated. What is needed is something along the lines of defining the relationship between the individual and the government.
For example, one of the established principles of modern western “democracies” pertains to the relationship between the state and the individual’s choice of religion; the separation of religion and politics. People are free to practice any religion or none at all, and the government does not establish an official religion. One merely need look to theocracies such as Iran to see why that is a sound principle.
This is a call for parties seeking to form a government in the next election, which must be called by 21 October, to give Canadian voters something fundamental on which to judge the direction in which these organizations wish to steer the nation. There’s not much time remaining really. Most of these politicians wouldn’t recognize a principle if they read or heard one stated, nor sadly would many voters.
If you wanted to drive across Canada, say from Charlottetown to Victoria, you’d consult a road map. Applying the approach of politicians to the affairs of government to this problem you’d just get in a car and start driving randomly, perhaps in a westerly direction at first. But you’d never get to Victoria.
Such an approach doesn’t work for taking a road trip and it’s certainly not good enough navigation for governing a country.