Monday, March 10, 2008

Voter Apathy in the House of Commons? or MIA: One Official Opposition

You know, I took some solace two years ago from the fact that Canadian voters had decided to hold Stephen Harper's Conservatives to a minority government. Little did I know at the time that it would turn out to be an effective majority government. Tonight, eight out of every nine Liberal MPs happened to miss a non-confidence motion instigated by the NDP on the issue of climate change. Whether or not this was the particular motion to bring the government down on is an issue for debate. But by now there have been dozens of different issues over the past two years that the Liberals have either abstained completely on, or only provided token "no" votes, even though the policies in question went against the stated position of the Liberal party. Certainly at least one of those should have been reason enough for the party to actually vote for what they claim represents the best interests of Canadians. While over the past year I have found some of the NDP's rhetoric attacking the Liberals for their unwillingness to stand against the government to be rather shrill, at a certain point, the evidence in favour of their case becomes overwhelming, and I can no longer give the Liberals the benefit of the doubt.

Frankly, it's a betrayal of all those voters who marked their ballot for the Liberals to have so many MPs not perform such a vital part of their jobs. Every election, I berate my students to go and cast a ballot - doing my little part to increase voter turnout in the 18-25 cohort. I have told my students that they have no right to complain about what the government is doing if they don't bother to vote in the election. I'm not sure what to tell a student who went to vote for the Liberals, only to then find out that the MP they helped to elect isn't willing to vote for what they believe in - or even vote at all. If the government falls because of a position taken by MPs, and Canadian voters don't agree with the positions the MPs took in Parliament, then what right do those MPs have to continue to represent those voters? I can't wait to see the current crop of Liberal MPs engaged in "Get out the Vote" or some Canadian equivalent to "Rock the Vote". The sheer hypocrisy of the exercise would undoubtedly instigate the best Rick Mercer Rant ever.

Opposition MPs should be busy explaining to voters why they disagree with government policy, and trying to convince voters that they would provide a better alternative. Right now, the Liberal alternative looks like a promise to never introduce, criticize, vote on or otherwise alter current policies. The Chretien Liberal government might have been criticized for lacking a major overarching vision, but this is taking things a bit far!

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At 12:18 am, Blogger Idealistic Pragmatist said...

You've got a damn fine NDP candidate to vote for, so you should be all right. *g*

At 9:16 am, Blogger Matt said...

Funny you should mention that, IP. I had the opportunity to have a rather lengthy chat with Tom King on Sunday. It was him who tipped me off to the impending confidence vote on Monday - and apparently he will be winning the cup of coffee he bet that the Liberals wouldn't support that vote.


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