Going for Broke

Posted: August 10, 2018 by Ty in Belonging Pyramid
Tags: , , , , , ,

It is those over nacho political conversations that can bring up the best memories, and what is lacking in the political party fields of today. I miss the times when policy and people came before quests for power. Yes, I realize the terms “blood sport” and “power” have always been intertwined with politics. But entrenched ideological loyalty even when your party has gone full on nutbar to harm citizens was not present. There was the party that would act as conscience, provide an “extreme” of what was needed in the social net for citizens to prosper (and like health care, and other safety nets, aid corporations for they did not need to ensure these things), others would moderate but pick up on the point to maintain power effectively creating some sort of compromise. Historically this has been the position of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (and all the labour, justice and social gospel movements that formed it) and then the New Democratic Party. Sadly, the voice has been lost (I was hoping the Greens would’ve picked it up, but…).

We are just a generation into the repercussion of 1990’s austerity/common sense revolutions, and attempting the rebuild. New “research” screams what needs to happen. But it is known knowledge: affordable housing needs to be built for a variety of ages and needs; social programs need to provide much needed prevention into poverty and homelessness; minimum wage (much like original legislation) needs to be a living wage; universal health care needs to be improved- grown and to include dental, optical, mental health and pharmacare. As well bureaucracy needs to be shrunk, we need to care for our persons with disabilities, children and elders. As well as citizens of all stripes, and those that can easily be discriminated against. Y’know the old Just Society mottos.

And before people cry out about lazyness, or “old stock Canadians” and hand outs… do I need to point out the history of the “homeless” or “transitional” shelter in Canada? Where they were places of short term stay for educational equipping, health care, ensuring entitlements or employment, establishing all documentation necessary for citizenship and then provision for the home(stead) that was necessary for the individual or family to thrive and grow– to BELONG in their new community. Was it always easy? No, we can look to our reserve system, but even with new Canadians there was bigotry towards those of Asian descent; Ukranian; Mormon; Loyalist (American); Francophones; Irish and Scottish (to name but a few). One can say- yeah but they came here to be Canadian first. Yes, they came for what a new land had to offer. They were/are Canadians. Just as any refugees and immigrants are today. Yet, what we forget is that Canada has always been a MOSAIC, not a melting pot. That is, the beauty of Canadian Identity has grown and been accented by the cultural pieces of the world brought to our doorstep. Just take a drive around your town, city or province and visit historic sites pre-colonization and post-colonization. It is a celebration of the diversity of life.

Was that a rabbit trail?

No. It was pointing out that we have reached a tipping point politically where we are attempting to mirror the melting pot to the south. The idea that there is only 2 choices, and we must choose. That is a fallacy. We have multitude choice. We can choose segregation and hate. We can choose money over people. Or we can choose to grow a great mosaic of a nation, that is prosperous, just and inclusive. Where each citizen belongs for we share the common good, and the accessibility needed for the individual to be a part of the community.

This sparked from nachos, for while discussing Alberta Politics, my old political stories kicked in. Back when Joe Clark (Joe Who?) had returned to lead the decimated PC (Progressive Conservative, historically created in an attempt to beat the liberals, a progressive left leaning labour party merged with the Conservative Party of Canada, creating a centrist party. Hence the terms Red Tory and Blue Tory, purple if you shared visages of both) Party of Canada. In 1993 they were reduced to 2 seats (due to Mulroney’s Western alliance with Blue Tories (Reform) and Quebec Red Tories (Bloc Quebecois) walking away to form their own parties). Clark in the late `90’s had brought the party back to between 12-16 seats. Back to official party status, and a decent fifth place party, that with a former PM at the helm (and one who had beat Pierre Trudeau) an elder statesman quality.

Best way to learn the political game? Join a small party, and be there to learn from the elders. That is what I did. Policy wise we were focused on being fiscally conservative (using money wisely, a lesson the other parties learned from Tommy Douglas, a pastor and premier of Saskatchewan, father of Medicare, oh and first leader of the newly minted Federal NDP in the 1960’s)…but also knowing the social contract needed to be renewed and citizens cared for (socially progressive). The Purple Tories in the party did the money bit, us Red Tories had fun going for broke creating what was just left of progressive policy for the NDP at the time.

Then Clark stepped down. It was quite amazing how many wanted to lead this little fifth place party back then. Some rumblings of merger with the then CCRAP (Canadian Conservative Reform Alliance Party, a rebranded Reform Party, that would become simply the Canadian Alliance Party). Most in the small but mighty knew that merger was not the right path, cause hey, if they were wanting us back that must mean we were on to something. As a young man, I was also excited that if this worked I would be running in my Federal riding under a new leader and living out one of my dreams as a kid (it would take until 2006 for that to become a reality).

All i remember about that race for leader was I backed a gent named Gafferty, who had to drop out I believe it was a stroke or a heart attack. He released his candidates. Most of us Red Tories (whether we liked Free Trade or not) fell to back David Orchard by the last ballot, because Peter MacKay was a merger type. Orchard made a deal with MacKay, to back him and swing him as leader with the signed promise of no merger… well a MacKay/Harper chat later, and fautly where to vote info sent to members and the Conservative Party of Canada was born.

I point to this as the rise of truly divisive ideological politics. There was a homeless progressive/red Tory vote available, but entrenchment began fomenting.  With the entrenchment it began a dissolution of actual debate/discussion of policy points, laws, and programs. What is began to dissolve into was a shouting match where everyone would pull “data/facts” wherever they wanted. The goal was to prove that the one who yelled the loudest, was right.

The failing, is that the loudest yeller, who can get the most money, does not create the best governance for the people as a whole. Canada is a diverse nation. That is as a mosaic we are economically diverse, culturally, religiously, ethnically, gender, and the list can go on. Ideological entrenchment does not bring all along for the ride, it demonizes, and creates hate.

I ponder what if, we could actually remove the last generation of politics. What if entrenchment never truly entered Canada?

As you look to the next election in your area. Get to know the candidates. Ask the hard questions. Push them on platforms, policy, the things we can see as boring and take more than the threads Twitter allows. Learn some history. Discover what has worked before, what needs to be fixed. What does it mean for the citizens that have the least in your area to be lifted up to a level where they are no longer struggling but can grow from. What happens when we shatter our ideas that health care is for the healthy? That there is a worthy and unworthy poor? That this person or that person is different from me…in reality we are neighbours, and as neighbours we all have a right to exist does not matter how much or how little tax you pay.

What if…we stopped looking at ourselves as tax payers at each level of governance?

What changes if we framed our discussion in the way our Constitution Act, 1982 and Charter of Rights and Freedoms, 1982 frame it: Citizens (and yes with agreements signed post World War II that extends to refugees and immigrants)?

A little bit of wisdom to keep in mind, 7 generations from now when history looks back upon us. We will not be judged by how wealthy we made corporations, or how we kept medical costs low. What we will be judged upon:

How we treated our migrants, our refugees, our immigrants, our seniors, our children, those without voice in our world, the have-nots, persons with disabilities, persons live life with mental health challenges; persons who have chronic illness, the sick…

Essentially, how we treated our neighbour, when they needed to belong.

  1. Scott Hofstetter says:

    Such a good history lesson. I often look at how far our political discourse has fallen from anything resembling healthy. We can blame Twitter or any other social media for shaping what we read and hear, but broadcasts such as Rebel Media derive their power from us. We dont want to listen to the other side, and it is only when a line is crosses that we sober up enough to realize what has happened. Sometimes we just accept it as the new norm and move on. It is sad, but you are right Ty, we need to stop thinking ourselves as tax payers. I guess in the end of this long comment I am reminder of JFK. ” Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country”

  2. Ty says:

    Thank you, Scott. As door knocking has commenced in perpetual campaigning…hold the candidate accountable to say what they will do, not what they are not.

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