Column: Really, parties are all the same

...experience has left me cynical that leaders “don’t really say much,” while parties honor even less of what they say.

By Mike Shields

I’ve re-written this too many times now. Frankly, I’m infuriated anew by every federal election attack ad.

Plus, experience has left me cynical that leaders “don’t really say much,” while parties honor even less of what they say.

Look, people fortunate or industrious enough to have a personal stake in tax rates seem forever bound to supporting the Conservatives.

Similar allegiances to social benefits or unions tie other voters irrevocably to the NDP.

Meanwhile, the theoretical middle is a Liberal Party well-known in Ottawa for “campaigning from the left but governing from the right.” The truth, however, is the momentum of modern economies make the actual differences nearly insignificant.

The Conservative party ran stimulus-motivated deficits six straight years before announcing a balanced budget.

The New Democrat Party now swears it will deliver balanced budgets no matter what.

Overlooked as a result is that voters born after 1958 had two full years of the pension they’ve paid into for decades taken away in no small part so a balanced budget can be claimed for electioneering purposes.

And that transferring $2 billion a year in excess Employment Insurance premiums into general government revenues equates to a secret tax on businesses and general theft from every working person.

Furthermore, since, in this riding at least, free trade has delivered mixed results, isn’t it insulting to ask for our vote while also informing us we aren’t allowed to see how much more sovereignty the new Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement cedes to corporate appointed tribunals?

Similarly, the defunding of a CBC, which has been the heart of our national identity for 85 years, hasn’t been made a point of conversation – even by the CBC itself?

Then, how about public input regarding Canada’s lost reputation for peacekeeping in the wake of knee-jerk support for a superpower bent on post 9-11 vengeance?

Or which civil liberties ‘temporarily’ abridged by ‘The War on Terror’ might soon be reinstated? Surely seniors and students deserve a say about choosing to spend $100 billion on new war planes rather than using such funds to bolster medical coverages and tuition fees, no?

Apparently not given the cross-party trend of consolidating ever more power into the Prime Minster’s Office – I haven’t heard a single backbencher protest that whipped votes on 900-page Omnibus bills, in which 1,200 clauses amend 135  unrelated laws, renders them unable to represent their constituents, have you?

Apparently, they’ve been suppressed just like the whistle blowers, charitable groups and federal scientists that ‘our’ government has banned from publishing results or even speaking to the media.

Prioritization of campaign donations has pushed climate change to the sole realm of fringe parties. But surely the reallocation of subsidies from ‘Big Oil’ to carbon sequestration initiatives or mass transit has appeal to small business and the public.

Farther afield, how many have heard mention of a Guaranteed Minimum National Income concept, which has academic support from both the left and right? Or interest in reforming a tax code whose 120-plus ‘boutique’ credits for special interests infer $6 billion year in filing costs imposed on taxpayers?

Any discussion at all about increasing income inequality? The growing influence of money in politics? Not even a pattern of electoral fraud has been cited, even by the parties these Conservative convictions disadvantaged.

Whilst this list examples may seem biased, 2011’s electoral majority did provide the Conservatives a mandate to reward their base. And whereas, if real differences existed between the parties, then a major campaign issue would be reforming of a system where 39.6 per cent of the vote renders all competing views impotent.

 

Mike Shields grew up locally and hosts SFU’s Philosopher’s Café Sessions at the Maple Ridge Act Theater, 7 p.m. on the fourth Thursday of every month.

 

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