14 April 2007

Wise move from Green Dion

I read in the Star today that some Liberals are upset with Dion's decision to allow Elizabeth May to run unopposed in Central Nova. Without putting too fine a point on it, these Liberals should get stuffed.

Some suggest that this damages the Liberal's image as a national party. What a load of crap. There is a long parliamentary tradition (not universally respected) of allowing the leaders of other parties to run unopposed. Now, I certainly wouldn't expect Mr. McKay to heed that tradition in the present case, but there's no reason for M. Dion to ignore it, and many good reasons for the present course.

Mostly, I like the idea of politicians who will do something they believe in. The people I speak to who are disengaged from the political process are mostly people who think that politicians will say and do anything to secure their own advantage. Frankly I think this is true more often than not, and it's obviously true of Mr. McKay, who shook hands with David Orchard on their agreement not to merge the Tories with the Alliance.

But here we have a leader who ran on his principles and is willing to stand by them, at the risk of a single seat. The environment is M. Dion's biggest concern, and this is a frank acknowledgement that Elizabeth May is a strong advocate on this issue, one who speaks for and to Canadians on this issue, and one who deserves support even though she is not a Liberal.

I am in favour of non-partisan moves generally. I think they are all the more important at this stage of the Canadian parliamentary democracy, because we have reached a point where it is highly unlikely any party will be able to form a majority. Given the state of the nation in Quebec and Alberta, both the Liberals and the Conservatives need to virtually sweep Ontario to get that majority. I don't believe that either rural Ontarians or 416 Ontarians will allow that to come to pass. So, we need leadership that is genuinely able to see agreement and common ground and forge the alliances necessary to get the work of government done.

The Conservatives have been a patent failure in this respect - they have not found common ground, but have simply used the enormous (Paul Martin) surplus to pay for the loyalty of the Bloc, which is presently for sale in sufficient quantities to keep the government afloat. The results of the recent Quebec election reveal that this has not moved the Tories any closer to being viable in the region. So, in a day of minorities, Tory minorities are destined to be unstable. Liberals, being in the centre, have natural allies on virtually every position (although it is inconceivable that the current crop ofTories would ever acknowledge that).

So let's support the greens in central Nova. Lets show that we can forge genuine partnerships with those of common cause. Let us show that partisanship will not blind us to the good ideas and strong leadership of others. Let us show we are looking out for Canadians, and not exclusively for the well-being of our own party. Frankly, showing Canadians that we put the nation above the party is the only way to win back their trust.

As to those living in Central Nova, do not believe, as some have suggested, that your votes do not count. Rather, think of yourselves as a basket in which M. Dion has put all his eggs (at least on this issue). You have the power to remove from office a prominent conservative minister, a former leader, one who made a promise to his party to obtain the leadership and betrayed that promise. The voters of Central Nova are therefore in a position to send an amazingly powerful message to the rest of the nation: that we will not stand for those who put power ahead of principle. Remove the powerful and unprincipled Mr. McKay, and replace him with the presently powerless but highly principled Ms. May.

If politicians heard and believed that message, imagine the government we would have!

UPDATE: Elizabeth May has gone on the offence against the NDP for putting partisan politics ahead of principled action on the environment. I assume she got the idea here.


Anonymous Litz. said...

I am not a blogger, but have read many. Some are so mad at Dion for doing what he did, one was even talking about getting rid of Dion and replacing him, right away. There are some in he middle who have the "wait an see" attitude.
The remainder, are for what he did.
That leaves me in a quandrum. Should he take the votes away from the Liberals in that riding,...I know I wouldn't like it, and some seem to think he is getting too close to the Green party, especially when the Green fellow from out West is such a loser, some people have Dion guilty of association.

April 14, 2007  
Blogger mecheng said...

There is a long parliamentary tradition (not universally respected) of allowing the leaders of other parties to run unopposed.

Actually, the tradition is to allow a leader, who does not have a seat, either through:

a)just being chosen leader, or
b)through losing their seat in a general election

to run unopposed in a by-election in a riding where a member of the leader's party has stepped down to allow them to run.

Hardly the case here.

April 14, 2007  
Blogger petroom said...

I agree with your post entirely.

April 14, 2007  
Blogger Gavin Magrath said...

Litz - I don't think he is taking the votes away from people in that riding. I think actually he is offering them a much clearer choice invoting than anyone else in the country will have: for a new and principled advocate for environmental renwewal, or for the old boy who sold out his voters and party by making a deal with the devil (er, I mean with Stephen Harper). Some certainly think this is getting to close to the Green party - I just think those people are wrong.

April 15, 2007  
Blogger Gavin Magrath said...

Mecheng - good point, although I'm not sure that the tradition is as tightly defined as you suggest. Since it's a tradition and not a rule, it's not written down and some mmight say it couldn't possibly be so tightly defined.

Perhaps this can be by way of apology for not respecting the tradition in the London by-election where the newly minted Ms. May was not allowed to run unopposed and wound up polling a strong second to the Liberal candidate. Or perhaps it should simply be justified because it is a good idea, as was my intention to argue in the remainder of the post, rather than simply hanging my hat on tradition.

April 15, 2007  

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