I like Justin Trudeau. I align well with his small L liberal predispositions and he has an optimism that has been lacking in Canadian politics for some time now. But I am bothered by the number of people who are seeing him as the savior from a Harper Canada and have, basically, given up on the current government and are waiting for someone else to take over. Before we let the media drag us into two years of Trudeaumania Redux, lets look at their – I mean the media’s – real ambition here.
The media is trying to replicate the American-styled continual loop election cycle. Why? Because following Justin Trudeau or Hilary Clinton or Paul Ryan’s every utterance as a lead up to the 2015 Canadian election or the 2016 US nominations is salacious and easy reporting. It is easy for politicians to pander to this – giving the media polarizing quips that make easy headlines. It is far more difficult, for both the media and for opposition politicians, to engage constructively in the current government’s policy and legislative agenda – that is complex stuff requiring background research and analysis and at times, difficult compromise. It is far harder, but it is essential to a well functioning democracy.
The United States is now paying a powerful price for being in constant election mode. There was a time in the United States where, once a President was elected, Congress and the Senate gave him a degree of latitude to implement the platform he got elected on. For a period after the election, campaigning was put aside in favor of legislating and governing. The President was not given carte blanche and he had to negotiate with opposition members, but both sides had an interest in finding common ground. No more. The US government is now completely dysfunctional and unable to move policy because America politicians are constantly campaigning for the next election. As a result, the same issues they argued over in the election campaign – be it Obamacare, gun control or mandatory sentencing – gets re-debated – not governed – throughout the four year government, and re-fought during the next campaign.
This is unacceptable. Canada is a country of tolerance and respect. We have been well governed when we have been able to come to the table with different perspectives, debate them, and find common ground and solutions. A politician’s job – be they in government or opposition – is to make government work for the people. When they abandon this responsibility in favor of positioning for power next time around, they are no longer governing.
I don’t like Stephen Harper. I didn’t vote for him. But he is my Prime Minister and I expect him to govern on my behalf. I expect the media to hold him accountable for doing so.
I hope Trudeau beats Harper in 2015; until then I will work with the team I have.