Sunday, July 9, 2006

Why I rejoined the Liberal Party

If Canada had proportional representation, there would be no question about my being able to vote for one party's candidate for Prime Minister and another party's slate for local candidates. But we're stuck with the archaic and stupid first past the post -- and that has resulted in our system of "brokerage" parties; alliances of people with broad agreement on key points but lack of it on specifics.

That's why I've been traditionally reluctant to be a member of a party. However, what I've seen in the last few months has alarmed me. Stephen Harper is getting a free ride in a minority Parliament, and the press is letting him get away with it; in fact the Exempt Media has lied to the people about certain policy issues:
  • That the "Universal" Child Care Benefit gives more money to parents (it doesn't).
  • That Canadians are going to save money with the myriad of tax credits dumped on us (wrong again).
  • That the the softwood lumber agreement is good for one of our mainstay exports (that's true only as long as the price of lumber stays high; it's going to collapse sooner or later).
  • That closer relations with the US are a good thing (that would be true if only Harper was tougher with the States on their human rights abuses on some sectors).
  • That natives are probably going to get a better deal than they did with the Kelowna Accord (yeah, right).

The Conservatives therefore are not my party. Among the fringe parties -- well, I did vote Green last time but out of protest at the alternatives; but there's going be a lot more at stake next time. The NDP and Liberals are the remainders. The NDP, as admirable as they may be, are going to be stuck in the low to mid double digits in terms of seats for quite some time to come.

Despite their many faults, the Liberals have the kinds of values that I believe in. Because I do not want to be aligned with any of the candidates for the leadership at this time -- until I've had more time to view their policies -- I have reactivated my membership not by contacting any of the leadership campaigns; but rather on the Party's website to cut out the "middle person." I did so last week, just before the extended deadline on July 4th.

I did this for two reasons. One, I suspect as many do that Harper will call a snap election this fall before the Liberals can choose a leader and I think he should pay the price if he is so tempted. Even if he waits, the Liberals are going to need a strong leader and for obvious reasons I want to be part of the process of selecting him or her. Second, a lot of the hard work done to improve the lives of Canadians is going to be torn asunder if Harper is allowed to complete his hidden agenda. There has to be someone who can show there is a better way, and it's not Harper's.

Let me say again: This was a tough decision for me. As late as last Tuesday morning, I was going to sit this out The tipping point for me, however, was "Steve" becoming not Dubya's fishing buddy but the bait. A strong leader for Canada would never do that -- he or she would both keep the White House on a leash while at the same time promoting stronger ties.

I pray that God will guide me, and my fellow members, in the choice of candidate. There's a lot riding on this one.

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