Monday, July 30, 2007

It's about the policies, people!

Allow me a moment to draw your attention to this post by my former hallmate and colleague Andrew Nurse, a Canadian Studies prof at Mount Allison University. Andrew, a good socialist if ever I met one, speaks to a lot of the frustration that I'm feeling right now as a left-leaning swing voter, frustrated by the lack of policy options being presented on the Canadian left.

As I note in the comments on his blog, I share his frustrations at the new "politics of honesty and accountability" which appear to have been substituted for policy discussions. Moreover, while I think parliamentary reform is necessary, I'm not willing to vote for a party or candidate on the sole basis that they support this initiative. I'd like something more concrete in terms of policy debate to win my next vote.

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At 10:49 pm, Blogger janfromthebruce said...

I suggest you read Dead Centre by Jamie Heath. Nice summer read. The liberals never do anything progressive unless they are a minority govt and pushed by the NDP. Also, before the 2006, they didn't have enough seats in the house to make the libs do anything. Why do progressives think that the libs are better than the Cons?
Chretien/Martin years saw more cuts and social programs cancelled than anything Harper has done so far. When left leaning voters figure out that liberals are really all about corporations, and dress up their language in progressive stuff, than it will change.

At 1:02 am, Blogger Matt said...


I disagree with you about your assessment of the Liberals - at least in a longer historical sense. While it's true that some of the most progressive social policies (CPP, Medicare) were introduced during the minority Pearson years, many others, including old age pensions and hospital insurance, happened when the Liberals had comfortable majorities. And that's not even counting the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Do you honestly think that the situation has improved with a Conservative minority goverment?

At 5:43 am, Blogger Idealistic Pragmatist said...

You didn't ask me, but: I don't think the situation has improved with a Conservative minority government, but I don't think very many things have gotten worse, either, and a few things (like the new election financing laws) have gotten better. That's very telling--and it says as much about the Liberals as it does about the Conservatives. Me, I'd rather see a Liberal minority than a Conservative minority, but I'd still (even now) rather see a Conservative minority than a Liberal majority.

I find posts like your friend's incredibly tiresome. I mean, statements like "the NDP leadership seems to spend more time attacking the Liberals than the Conservatives" used to drive me batshit, but now they just make me yawn. "Seems to" is just plain sloppy--if you want to make claims like that, do the work to find out whether or not it's actually true, don't base your judgments on what "seems" to be true. (In fact, from everything I've read on this that actually delves into the details, it appears not to be the case at all.)

I'm not a swing voter, but I get the swing voter mindset...when it's implemented on a riding-by-riding basis. This, though, is just annoying.

At 6:44 am, Blogger Matt said...


I'm going to disagree with you on both counts. I would say that there are a number of areas where policies have taken a turn for the worse with a Conservative minority, whether in terms of abandoned programs such as the Kelowna Accord and the Court Challenges Program, ill-conceived decisions such as the GST tax cut, proposed bills that were nixed such as decriminalization of marijuana, and new proposed bills such as the across-the-board raising of the age of consent. Moreover, I think that this period of Conservative minority government has given time for Harper to exert severe control over the party to project a moderate image, moreso than I believe his government would be with the majority I think they're well-positioned to win.

I'm not surprised that you posted a reply here, having read your previous posts about this topic. But again, the "Liberals are crooks and in bed with corporations" line which janfromthebruce uses in her comment is the same sort of rhetoric that appears in the most recent NDP fundraising literature that I have received. To be fair, right now it is balanced by attacks on Stephen Harper. But this was not the case during the 2005-6 election campaign, at least not on the national level. The situation may be different during Question Period, but most voters aren't paying attention to that.

I don't think we're going to see eye-to-eye on this debate, because by and large I don't prefer a Conservative minority to a Liberal majority. And while I would agree that a Liberal minority might be better than either of these two options, I think that this is only the case when the NDP holds an effective balance of power. This has not really been the case in the last two Parliaments. Indeed, right now we more-or-less have a working majority for the Conservatives on most issues, because the Bloc's polling numbers are so poor that it doesn't want to trigger an election.


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