We all lose

  • September 4, 2008

{mosimage}By the time you read this, it is likely that Canada has been plunged once again into a federal election campaign. While Catholics can find arguments to support either of the two main federal parties, they might also agree that neither the Liberals nor Conservatives have covered themselves with glory in recent weeks.

It is true that politics in a democracy is messy at the best of times — and doubly so during the heightened stakes of an election campaign. Yet in the run-up to this campaign, both the ruling party and its main opposition have been exceptionally cynical.

Let’s start with the election call itself. Prime Minister Stephen Harper insists that Parliament is so dysfunctional he needs an election to clear the air and, he hopes, obtain a majority that would allow him to govern as he sees fit. As proof of this paralysis, he cites the fact that the Liberals under Leader Stephane Dion have a new plan to fight pollution that is diametrically opposed to what the Conservatives say they will do on the same file.

This is proof of nothing, other than that the Liberals have a different platform than the Conservatives. Meanwhile, the prime minister ignores the fact this minority government has actually worked fairly well over the last nearly three years. Each budget has been passed, the Conservatives have pushed through ethical reform and other items, including — most significantly — legislation that creates fixed election dates.

That the prime minister is willing to ignore his own legislation should be seriously troubling to Canadians, who had elected his party on the basis that the Conservatives were more trustworthy than the Liberals. The legislation allows the Governor General to call an election before the required four years is up for any government, but this has been understood to be done if Parliament reveals its lack of confidence in the government. Since every confidence vote — some 43 in total — has passed, it would appear this Parliament has confidence in the Conservatives. Unless the prime minister submits some legislation that gets defeated, there is really no evidence that Parliament can no longer work.

Truth suffered another drubbing in the political arm-wrestling of late, this time over private members’ Bill C-484, the Unborn Victims of Crime Act, introduced by MP Ken Epp. Though the legislation specifically states that it does nothing to change the legal status of abortion in Canada, its critics, most notably Dion, have continually repeated the canard that it is merely one step back to back-alley abortions. Though such lies are easily refuted, the government has not had the courage to do so. In late August, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson announced that his government, previously well-disposed toward the bill, was not supporting it, saying his government was not going to “reopen the debate on abortion.”

Nicholson, a Catholic, has sadly decided to put electoral success ahead of doing the right thing for the unborn. There are no winners in this kind of politics, and all of us lose.

More in this category: « Life issues Do no harm »

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