Party on, Canada

Two of the biggest winners/losers in the SNC Lavalin affair are the same people. Former cabinet ministers Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott definitely won the battle for voters’ hearts and minds, and emerged in many peoples’ opinions as the only honourable characters in the entire mess.

You will recall that the government stood accused of having their officials pressure Wilson-Raybould, then Minister of Justice and Attorney General, on the case of engineering firm SNC Lavalin. Wilson-Raybould then produced a secretly recorded audio of her conversation with former privy Council clerk Michael Wenick. That did it for the party brass and she was ejected. Philpott remained her firm supporter through it all.

However, they lost as well, as they were first ousted from cabinet and then from caucus and told that their trust with the Liberal Party was ‘irreparably broken’.

Earlier this week, both women announced that they would run as independents in their respective ridings, Wilson-Raybould for Vancouver Granville and Philpott for Markham – Stoufville.

Despite speculation that they may shift to the Green Party, both instead announced that they would seek office as independents. That’s a real blow to the Green Party, because that would have been a potential two more seats for a party on the rise.

“With your support, I am confident that running as an independent is the best way to go about it at this time, and the best way to transform our political culture,” Wilson-Raybould said.

She says that while she will work with other parties on matters of common interest, she feels that Canada’s democracy is evolving and has less room for partisanship.

I wish Wilson-Raybould and Philpott much success in their endeavours. And I will hazard a guess that at least one of them, and probably both, will be re-elected.

But are they right? Is the party system old fashioned and passé? Is Canada’s democracy evolving?

It certainly isn’t functioning as it may have been intended in the beginning. Partisanship in these times is at a high point, and the bitterness between political foes is at an all time peak.

You only have to look at the barely functioning democracy in the United States. It has reached a point in that country where if one party proposes something, the other will automatically oppose it, whether it’s a suggestion that has some merit, and could be legislatively massaged, or not.

Legislative collaboration is a thing of the past and bipartisanship an archaic term.

It’s not much better in Canada.

I cannot imagine Justin Trudeau and Andrew Scheer ever sitting down and having a reasonable policy discussion, where one listens and presents a point of view, without it devolving into insults, and potentially, fisticuffs.

If you can bear to listen to Sunday morning political television — which I cannot — it has simply become a forum for members of different parties to yell at each other. Nothing constructive ever comes out of it.

It’s pretty much the same during Question Period in the House of Commons. They talk over, under and around each other.

But on one is listening to the other person.

They’ll argue about who loves Canada more; about who or what a Canadian is; about social safety nets for all Canadians; about ‘real’ Canadians. On and on and on.

The current situation is an indictment of the party system, but to change it would be almost impossible.

If everyone ran as an independent, they would still have to group together as common independents, so to speak, in order to govern. And from that, another party system would grow.

Like the party system or not, we’re stuck with it.

Party on, Canada.

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