Tag Archives: NDP

Endorsement for Joyce Murray

Murray Can Lead Canada Forward | Chris Wattie, Reuters (via National Post)

For almost seven years, Stephen Harper has been the Prime Minister. Canadian progressives unite in their call that “we can do better” and yet, little is done to meet actions with words. In the New Democratic leadership race, I backed Nathan Cullen for his progressive partnership proposal. It was bold, it was controversial, but it represented real leadership. Mr. Cullen challenged New Democratic progressives, presenting them with an opportunity for real, meaningful change. Mr. Cullen inspired many people with his surprising success, but New Democrats decided to meet Einstein’s theory of insanity: doing the same thing expecting different results.

The Liberal party is now in the process of selecting a leader, and I only hope that we can learn from our history. I have spent my adult life listening to empty words, I want to fight for real initiatives. I want to be a part of a Liberal Party committed to real change. There is one candidate with such a commitment to moving the country forward: Joyce Murray.

Murray is the Member of Parliament for Vancouver Quadra. She was the top MBA graduate in her year from Simon Frasier University. She has proven success in the economic realm. Her business, Brinkman & Associates Reforestation has over 500 employees. Murray has been in politics since 2001, representing constituents for 12 years. She drafted Bill C-437 to formalize a ban on supertanker traffic in British Columbia’s north pacific coast. She has a track record of leadership, and that is what a Murray Leadership would be expected to do: lead Canada forward.

Most importantly, she has taken up the call for cooperation across progressive parties. A local Liberal riding official would need to advocate for cooperation in their constituency in order for it to happen. She has also proposed four other policy initiatives:

  1. Gender Equity: All Government appointments retain at least 40% male and 40% female representation
  2. Carbon Pricing: A cost applied to pollution created by carbon emissions (not necessarily a tax, she is open to cap-and-trade)
  3. Democratic Reform: A royal commission on electoral reform to move away from first-past-the-post, and replace it with a more democratically accountable electoral system
  4. Cannabis Legalization: Legalize, regulate, control and tax cannabis

Progressives argue that “we can do better”, now is the time to stop our petty partisan concerns and turn to the health of our country. Meaningful change requires hard work, and a motivated base, but it is aided by inspiring leaders. Joyce Murray has the ideas and the experience. If we can do better, I believe it will be done through the Prime Minister Canada deserves. I am pleased to endorse Joyce Murray for Liberal Leadership.

Post Scriptum: One of my good friends, Joseph Uranowski has written a wonderful article on Joyce Murray I would encourage you to read.

Advertisements

A Defence of Regularized Public Policy Referendum

I think Governments should consult with the people. The amount of public involvement with our federal democracy is essentially voting in a general election once every four years. We call our political system “free and democratic”, a rule by and for the people. For me, electing over three hundred people who are being sent to Ottawa to agree with one of three policy sets is not nearly enough consultation. If we are sincerely interested in a democratic government, then we must believe on some level, that as a whole Canadians can adequately govern themselves. I believe that rather than simply voting for a representative who will be our proxy in policy votes (but will amount to little more than a face in a caucus) Canadians ought to take a more active role in major policy decisions our Government intends to pass. In short, I believe in comparatively frequent (perhaps yearly) referendum, lending increased accuracy (and therefore legitimacy) to our national system of Government.

Image

We only have referendum when Canada enters crisis mode. Why? | Stolen from the CBC

There are valid objections standing in the way of such an ambitious plan. Fiscal concerns, “how much would this cost the tax payers” are perhaps the weakest. We ought to have the best representation possible, if our government is to be an adequate democracy. With every Member of Parliament comes costs in the form of their salaries, pensions, expenses, their staffs and offices (both in Ottawa and in their own constituencies). I will take freedom and liberty over increased costs if the choice needs to be made.

A stronger argument is one that calls the majority unfit to claim more power over itself.  An objector can claim that masses get carried away with popular passions, disposing of prudence and sober reason due to demagoguery or  the influence of money in politics or some other reason. I do not find such an argument convincing. To such objectors, I argue that If as Canadians we trust ourselves enough to give up natural rights and select our government while still believing in the legitimacy of our government, why not trust ourselves to go one step further and decide the fate of our own major policies?

A third argument I can see raised against increased referendum is that rather than believing the public can adequately rule over itself without “enlightened” representatives,  Canadians would not care enough to actually vote in such resolutions—referendum results would be wildly unrepresentative. First, even if this is true, then the same arguments van apply to our elected governing bodies. Why even hold general elections? Second, most Canadians simply believe our political system is unrepresentative, and could be spurred to democratic action if they felt voting could amount to something substantial. Rather than shouting at the apathetic that every election is important and every vote counts (which are tired lines at this point and do little to help the problem) we can get them directly involved with our nation’s policy making and major decision-making.

Aside from the obvious benefit of making our policies more representative, there are spinoff benefits. MPs might be more inclined to advocate policies on conscience rather than with party if their vote will be in the general election with thirty million others rather than in a body of three hundred. Important policy will be highlighted in the media as voters prepare to decide whether or not to kill the legislation. Citizens will become better informed of the happenings of their government. Citizens will start scrutinizing, deliberating, philosophizing, talking and debating amongst each other. The country will become more democratic which is always a step in the right direction.

I believe in the wisdom of the people. Call me a hopeless optimist, but more often than not, the inherent goodness of people outweighs utilitarian or greedy potential gains. The will of the people is not perfect and can be confused; however, more often than not, the public demonstrates its good judgement. We can and should trust ourselves. It is our Government after all, we ought to start acting like it.


Peter Julian’s Closure

I have never met Peter Julian, but I hold a lot of respect for what I know about him. He was the former executive director of the Western Institute for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, and is a four time Member of Parliament from Burnaby–New Westminster, British Columbia. He currently holds the title of Finance Shadow Cabinet Minister.

This image was stolen from http://www.daylife.com

Having listed his impressive accomplishments, the recent conduct of Mr. Julian in Parliament is something that I find quite unacceptable. The Finance critic has been using up all allotted debating time centered on the budget so that he (and only he) could focus on how the Conservative budget is going to harm Canadians. As the finance critic, Peter Julian is entitled to take as much time as he wants to rail against the budget; however, by taking up two straight days of debate without yielding, I believe Mr. Julian has essentially closed the debate off for any alternative (or supplementary) views to his own.

Last Friday, Robert Chisholm argued that as the Official Opposition, it is the duty of the NDP to air every argument that ought to be made. Further, Peter Van Loan, the Government House Leader claimed that by following house rules, the New Democrats were doing nothing wrong. Presumably, like most New Democrats I believe that just because something is written down as a rule or law, does not necessarily make it right.

In 2007, when John McCallum was the Liberal Finance Critic, he stepped aside for Libby Davies to have a chance at exposing the weaknesses in the Conservative budget, before rising again to continue his line of attack. I believe allowing other members and other parties to speak are not simply gentlemanly actions, but actively serve to promote the health of democracies in general.

Hogging the spotlight is the smart political move. Having suffered through poor leadership during the contest to replace Jack Layton, this is the NDP’s chance to prove they are mature enough to be the next Canadian Government.  However, if New Democrats are serious about changing the atmosphere in Ottawa then they ought to look at what they are doing to contribute to our Nation’s own Capital Circus. Pat Martin’s rant on the Conservatives’ decision to spontaneously end debate on the budget ought to prove that just because you can do something, does make it right. I call on Mr. Julian and the Leader of the Opposition to open the floor for other members to speak, from their own party and others, if not for the good of the house, then for the spirit of democracy. That shows real maturity. That’s how you fix Ottawa.

This image was stolen from http://4.bp.blogspot.com