Misrepresentation by political elites is not helpful to democracy

The federal Liberal and NDP parties recently announced an agreement whereby the NDP would help ensure that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s minority government would remain in power until its term runs out in 2025. In return for the agreement, the Liberal party has agreed to moving forward a number of policies that it had originally campaigned upon in the last election that the NDP also supports—such as national pharmacare and dental programs.

In reaction, the opposition parties left out in the cold by the agreement, Conservatives and Bloq Quebecois, have cried foul, claiming the agreement subverts democracy and thwarts the will of the people—leaving out the plain point of fact that, by definition, minority governments in a parliamentary democracy are supposed to work together to forward policies they agree upon. The outlying opposition parties also gloss over the point that, combined, the Liberals and NDP have a decisive majority of the nation’s electorate behind them. Never let facts get in the way of a good political spin.

While it is understandable that the Conservatives (Her Majesty’s Official Loyal Opposition) are miffed at having their potential kingslayer position undercut by the agreement, it is entirely disingenuous for them to suggest that there is anything illegitimate in the agreement.

Right wing pundits have been wringing their hands, referring to the agreement as a “pacto” in an attempt to delegitimize the pact by association with South American governments.

Sadly, that move reeks rather badly of Old Stock reactionism and does little credit to their cause, falling into the distressing current trend of using defamatory language and playground name-calling in place of the sound alternative policy suggestions that should be the hallmark of a functioning Westminster parliamentary system.

Our nation is currently (optimistically?) emerging from one of the most challenging crisis of our time (Freedom Convoy supporters and anti-vaxxers notwithstanding) and conceivably headed into several crises that will shake the very foundations of the country. Most of those challenges, such as rising inflation and attendant supply chain issues will be trying enough, especially given that many of their underlying causes are beyond our shores and reach of government levers, but some, such as the threat of global war, should Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and confrontations with NATO spiral out of control. Serious crisis in the Canadian context have traditionally been met with a closing of the ranks among Canada’s federalist parties. The Conservative and their new leader, whomever that should turn out to be, would be well advised to consider.

Instead of the weirdly bicameral suck and blow of claiming the prime minister is an effete and ineffective leader while at the same time howling in outrage that he is a dictatorial usurper of all that is good and holy in the land, our nation’s official opposition should stop pandering to extremist elements and start to put forward sensible and considered policy alternatives that the vast centrist electorate can get behind, or risk not only being on the wrong side of history but becoming an irrelevant anachronism.

A political party that depends solely on populist right wing taunts as a unifying philosophy just isn’t what this nation needs in the midst of crisis.

Our nation needs an alternative to the “natural governing party” as the Liberals have often been characterized and right now, the Conservative Party of Canada is, well, just not ready.