I've voted for every party...
When you vote for a candidate in an election, what is it that you're expecting. Someone who will reflect exactly what you think? Or the closest you can get? Do you want someone who will tow the party line or someone who might actually think for themselves and adapt to inevitable changes? Personally I don't expect or want my representatives to be robots who do and say what is best for their particular party. Too often, however, thats exactly what we get. That is the nature of politics in the 21st century.
Somewhere we lost sight of doing whats best in favour of doing whats expedient.
Its party above principle and, in many cases, party above country. We have moved from the 20th century when we were a multicultural nation who identified ourselves by our ethnicity ( ie. Italian-Canadians, French Canadians, African-Canadians etc.) to a polarized nation which identifies itself by its political affiliation (ie. Conservative, Liberal, Socialist etc.).
When a politician breaks that mould he or she is usually pilloried by all sides and sent packing by his or her own party. Nowhere was this more evident than the case of Kim Craitor this past week. The Liberal MPP from Niagara Falls was on my show on Monday morning (with very little notice) to discuss the contentious issue of legislating new rules for teachers in Ontario.
Kim has a long history of supporting labour in the province as an MPP and a city councillor. When I asked him how he felt about the part of the new law that some see as anti-union in taking the boots to the teacher's right to strike, he paused for quite a long time and said, quietly, that it was a very difficult issue for him and he hadn't made up his mind. Later that day reporters saw him amongst the teachers protesting on the slightly brown lawns of Queen's Park sporting a button that supported the teachers bargaining rights.
To be fair, Mr. Craitor, spent much of the interview, I did with him, extolling the benefits of the bill and it's financial savings for the province. On the union issue, though, Kim was obviously at odds with his boss.
Like turkey vultures over fresh road kill reporters, anonymous bloggers and political pundits went right after an MPP who had the temerity to disagree with his party. What was the world coming too? A politician who had a mind of his own. What was next? Intelligent debate?
Thats what we have come to. Automatons in parliament, voting strategically to ensure that the party faithful will be given the right optics or metrics or whatever new buzz words that spin doctors can...spin.
There is no way, in this or any other age, that one party can be all things to a voter. I can be fiscally conservative and socially liberal. Its why, in my adult life, I have voted for every major party at least once. I refuse to be pigeon holed as one thing or another and, in fact, I find it an insult to a person’s intelligence.
The politics of 2012, here and even more so down south, has moved us to a point where electing individuals to parliament may soon be pointless. We could just mark a ballot for the party of our choice instead and have a government of one leader and a civil service. Think of what we could save in pensions alone!
I want, no I expect, the people I vote for to have brains and to use them. To be able to vote their conscience if need be because, to me, thats what a human democracy is all about. There are those who will tell you that allowing free thought in parliament it would lead to chaos. Yet I have more faith in people than that. I would rather not make our elected reps pass a political litmus test that proves their loyalty to their party. Let them vote the way they feel is in the best interest of the country as a whole without fear of being drummed out of caucus.
And good on Kim Craitor. Whether or not I agree with his stand on this issue is immaterial right now. I applaud him for having the guts to make it...even though it may signal his end a Liberal MPP.