Friday, 26 May 2017

Don't Waste Your Time With Political Parties in Canada

The federal Conservative Party is electing a new leader today. And you know what? I don't give a damn. I actually used to be a member of the party, but thinking back on it, I don't know why I wasted my time with them. In fact, I wouldn't recommend that any Canadian waste their time with the Conservatives or any other political party in this country.

If there's one thing I hate about politics in Canada just as much as our first-past-the-post electoral system, it's the way parties operate in this country. Party discipline is more excessive in Canada than in any other modern, industrialized democracy that I know of. No MP or MPP dares criticize the leader of his or her own political party in public, lest they be turfed from caucus. This goes especially for MPs or MPPs who are members of the governing party, because here in Canada, every vote is treated like a confidence vote; ie. a vote that could bring down the government and force new elections. Everyone is expected to simply shut up and tow the party line, whether they like it or not. This makes for a very unhealthy democracy.

Contrast this with Israel, the other democracy with which I am most familiar. In Israel, not only is political infighting commonplace, it is very widely publicized. No member of Israel's parliament keeps his or her views a secret, regardless of what the leader of his or her party thinks. And although each political party in Israel has a basic ideology, they don't maintain an ironclad party line that every party member must follow to the letter under threat of expulsion.

Canadian political parties could learn a great deal from how their Israeli counterparts conduct themselves. But as it stands now, Canada's political parties are ruled with iron fists. They're more like armies where soldiers march in lockstep behind their commanding officers. Take this country's excessive party discipline, combine it with an antiquated and undemocratic first-past-the-post electoral system that tends to produce majority governments without the accompanying popular support, and what you usually get is one-party dictatorships with term limits. This doesn't sound like real democracy to me.  

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