Monday, April 04, 2011

Platform 2011

In the rush to (hopefully, if doubtfully) give our esteemed Mr. Harper the boot in the upcoming federal election, I may have neglected something. I have been too keen to talk about what it is I do not want for Canada, and in so doing I have lost sight of a far more important question: what DO I want? Tonight, I intend to answer that question as best I can.

Election Results:

Unfortunately, a coalition government seems to be a non-option. I think we've seen that any party - Liberal or Conservative - will quickly forget its promises to its supporters if given any position of sufficient leverage to govern alone. No, I fear that even a Liberal minority would be impossible to distinguish in practice from the present adversarial brinksmanship of Harper and his cronies. I think, perversely, that another Conservative minority (the likely result of this election) may actually be the best option. It may eventually impress upon the Liberals the value of forming a coalition government, and it would probably put pressure on Harper to resign. Since Harper has been practicing a very autocratic kind of governance, I imagine there is no ready successor. It's a long shot, but a Conservative party so humbled might actually be worth dealing with.

Structural Reform

This is a big one, so here goes. I want the senate either overhauled or completely scrapped. Two options for the former: directly elected with equal representation for each province and territory, OR elected with parties receiving senate seats in direct proportion to their share of the vote (a neat idea suggested to me last night in a bar: still the cornerstones of democratic society!). Given the continuing consolidation of power in the Prime Minister's Office, I think it is no longer acceptable that Canadians do not directly elect their PM. I find it distressing that the results of a party's leadership convention are, in some ways, more significant than the outcome of a FEDERAL ELECTION. This cannot continue to be the case. Finally, I want some kind of electoral reform. I think Preferential Voting would be just about right. No system is perfect, of course, but I find First-Past-The-Post to be obviously unsuitable for a multi-party democracy.

Policy Initiatives

I want Canada to get a real environmental policy. The Liberals sat on Kyoto for 10 years and did nothing. The Conservatives castigated them for it, and then had the gall to start backpedaling, to the point that our country is now an embarrassment to itself in the international community. I want us to scale back development of the Albertan tar sands. I don't want us to go chasing arctic territory only so we can keep gulping at the dregs of the world's oil supply while the planet dies all around us. I want money invested in producing cellulosic ethanol, which is made from plant waste, and does not steal food from needy mouths. I want money invested in building green energy that is more than just a stupid publicity stunt. I want an emphasis on reduced consumption, increased re-use, and - more generally - sponsorship and support for bio-mimetic architecture and technology.

I want more funding for education, with the express goal of lowering tuition fees. I may not be saddled with student debt (yet), but the very institution of giant student loans is a kind of debt slavery for those who lacked the foresight to be born rich (oh, yes, how could they forget?!). I do not approve of this behavior on the part of schools, banks, or the government. If we believe that access to education is a right, let's put our money where our mouths are.

I think we should set a timetable for a gradual withdrawal of our combat forces from Afghanistan. I have seesawed back and forth on this issue, but I do not see a way for us to achieve our goals in the present political climate there. I think that we should remain committed to humanitarian efforts in the region, but frankly, 9/11 was ten years ago. If we have not achieved sufficient vengeance by now, then we never will. I think we should take some time, get some perspective, and make a considered plan for our continued involvement in Afghanistan. That plan should not involve fighting a war whose victory conditions are nebulous and unattainable.

I believe those are the major points. Thank you, and goodnight.

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