Thursday, February 1, 2007

Making Parliament Work

Political alliances are something that has been occurring a lot in politics in the last half-century or so, particularly in Europe, where coalition governments are the norm. But this philosophy has not been accepted much in Canada. And when it does happen, it is not in the form of a coalition, but a simple agreement of certain issues. The most recent case of this is right now, with the NDP and the Conservatives. And this is getting a lot of negative feedback from New Democrats and others who are criticizing the NDP.

People from all sides of the political spectrum are being very negative about the so-called environmental alliance between the NDP and the CPC, who have completely different views on the environment. And it is quite funny how this started out. People started framing this situation as the 'NDP in bed with the Conservatives' (kind of link a couple of years ago. Remember 'NDP in bed with the Liberals'?) last fall, when the Conservatives introduced their Clean Air Act, and the NDP pointed out the dozens of flaws in the Clean Air Act. Just to make it simpler, I'll quote a short paragraph by the T.O. Star's Allan Woods in today's paper:
A potential deal between Jack Layton's New Democrats and Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Tories has been rumoured ever since the two leaders agreed last fall to send the government's Clean Air Act to a special legislative committee to be rewritten.
How can two parties agreeing to send an act to a special committee be a "deal" or an alliance? This is the way a minority Parliament works: the government makes a bill, the opposition doesn't like it (but the principle is agreeable), so they each make sacrifices in what they want so that the bill is acceptable for everyone.

To conclude, I'd like to give a message to all those NDPers out there who are getting upset about this so-called Conservative alliance: this is the way politics works. This is the way that the first ever NDP budget came to be. Jack Layton is only trying to make this Parliament work. With the anti-environment parties out there, like the Liberals and the Conservatives, this bill will never be perfect, but it can be improved. In politics, parties on all sides will make sacrifices, but at least something is being done for the environment.


Kenn Chaplin said...

Right on! NDippers need to remember that, short of forming government ourselves, the next best thing is to have sway in a minority Parliament.

Sometimes that will mean working with the governing party, sometimes not. Right now, with no one really wanting an election (although the Liberals would gladly take on Minority status again just to satisfy their lust for power), these are opportune times to (sigh) make Parliament work and get some environmental protections, and climate change strategies, in place.

When the Libs and Cons groan, every time a New Democrat reminds Canadians of our role in medicare and the Canada Pension Plan, they need to give their heads a shake and read up on history!


Kuri said...

Oh, but if we can work with the Cons just as easily as the Libs to get real positive things done, the Libs' strategy of making Harper to be "teh devil" is all shot up! Oh noes!!