October 5, 2008

Open Letter to the Opposition Leaders: If Harper wins a minority

To Stephane Dion, Gilles Duceppe, Elizabeth May, Jack Layton:

CC: The Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail

If Stephen Harper wins a minority government it will be because you four have failed to work together to collectively portray him as an incompetent do-nothing leader and a pawn of the American Republicans and the oil industry.

You had plenty of scandals that leaked out as well, ranging from bribery to fraud, so there was no shortage of ammunition to prove Harper is corrupt and incompetent.

Squabbling between yourselves is a given, we can accept that. But what we don't want is another couple years of Harper bullying his way through parliament with threats of another election and either the Liberals, NDP or the Bloc propping up the Conservatives (you're all guilty of doing it at least once).

As opposition parties facing a minority Conservative government you will have the power to say NO. We shall be expecting you to exercise that.

Furthermore you also have the power to put forth a private members bill, on the topic of the environment for example. Mr Dion has proposed taxing carbon emissions and Mr Layton wants caps on carbon emissions. Why not do both? Seriously. Tax the carbon emissions AND set caps on the maximum allowed.

On the topic of medical care Mr Layton wants to introduce pharmacare and Mr Dion wants to train/hire more doctors and nurses. Evidently in this case we could again do both.

Other issues ranging from Quebec, native rights, Canadian troops in Afghanistan will have to be discussed on a case by case basis. In some cases you will have to compromise (what would politics be without compromise?) and in other cases you will always have the option of doing both, nothing or multiple solutions.

Your end goal should be to make the Conservative Party powerless. When a minority government becomes powerless there is always the opportunity for the opposition leaders to form a new minority government without going to another election. You will have to check the precise rules in the Parliament of Canada Act about forming a secondary minority government. We should note however that, to our knowledge, that particular rule in the Parliament of Canada Act has never actually been used, and is a bit controversial because it relies on several opposition parties to work together to form a new government.

Lately many Canadians we've spoken to are undecided about whom to vote for. We like Stephane Dion's integrity, we like Jack Layton's optimism, we like Elizabeth May's fiery spirit and some of us Anglo-Canadians even like well-spoken Gilles Duceppe and wish he was leader of a national party.

In the case of the Greens, the NDP and the Liberals we are faced with vote splitting and its reached a point where we are looking at an endless line of Conservative minority governments until either one of you or all of you decide to take some initiative and work together.

You may even decide to form a New Liberal Party and push the Liberals more to the left. We have far too many left-wing parties in Canada right now and while that it is encouraging that approx. 65% of Canadians vote left of the middle, the voting system in Canada is such that parties like the Greens and NDP have millions of votes but collectively only get 30 seats or less in parliament.

Redesigning the voting system might be one of the things you want to discuss if we do end up in perpetual minority governments.

We personally don't mind minority governments because it means the parties are forced to work together to come up with solutions. HOWEVER, having someone like Stephen Harper who bullies through legislation defeats the purpose of a minority government. Minority governments are supposed to compromise. Harper has been doing very little of that during the past year.

We can do better than that. You can do better than that.

Charles Moffat & Suzanne MacNevin
Toronto, Ontario

Political parties need to learn to relax and work together more often. Maybe they should host a party, hire some caterers or Toronto Party Rentals and then discuss options for building a better Canada?

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