As the Tories line up possible suitors for outgoing MP Merv Tweed, the other three parties have quietly gone about their business putting together names to run in the bright blue riding of Brandon-Souris.
Admittedly, I’m an election junkie. I enjoy the politics at play and like hearing what may come from fresh ideas, as well as seeing where support lies among any given candidate.
One of those ideas at play is the one shared in both the pages of the Brandon Sun and Winnipeg Free Press recently, an idea getting some play this week by an NDP member.
Brandon-Souris NDP riding association president Vanessa Hamilton has tabled the idea of parties opposite the Conservatives aligning and putting forward one candidate to challenge the Tory member. Further to that, Hamilton, who is proposing this coalition of sorts, has stated she would have interest in seeking the nomination should the left unite to take on the Tories.
The idea is not a new one and in theory allows for a more even split between votes. In an ideal world, it allows for a better chance for one candidate other than the Conservative to take the riding. The theory itself does have some merit, but when politics come into play the wheels come off the bus. This concept has been batted around for some time with both Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and Hamilton’s own NDP leader, Thomas Mulcair, denouncing the idea of co-operation.
Both rightfully believe their party offers Canadians a realistic opportunity to form government come the next election — which may be optimism or delusion depending on which political stripe you wear.
Both of the big two parties opposite the Conservatives have long shot down talks of co-operation, save for a short time in 2008 when a coalition government was batted around the table before Parliament was prorogued by the Tories to cool the talks.
The Liberals and NDP, both ideologically left-centrist, now have made it abundantly clear they won’t play nice. Statements by leaders like Mulcair claiming the NDP do not trust the Liberals or their ideologies for Canadians pretty much draws the line in the sandbox. The Trudeau-led Liberals echoed a similar statement when talking Dipper politics and are always quick to shut down talks of the
co-operation as the reignited party sees a potential to form government regardless of the NDP or their support.
Both parties have shown they are too far apart for any idea like co-operation in “yellow dog” ridings to work.
The exception is Elizabeth May — the lonely Green party member and leader who rounds out the field — stating she was open to the concept of co-operation. Realistically though, the Greens like this idea as there is nothing to lose politically and more so no cost involved in an election campaign for a party with a very small financial base.
I’m not trying to shut down the idea completely, as sharing ideologies has some merit, but politics truly will never allow it to happen to the extent of putting forward one candidate in ridings like Brandon-Souris.
There is a solution, though, to this conundrum that would allow for other parties to eventually hold power locally in Ottawa. It is a generational solution and not the type of change that happens overnight or even over multiple elections. It involves youth and it involves the ground swell of social change that is happening in areas of Canada where other parties offer clear alternatives to tired policy or the status quo. Most importantly, it involves the need for youth to get out to the polls where it counts and become engaged in politics as a measure of a functioning society.
The two-party style of thinking does not serve Brandon-Souris or any other riding well, and the American “us versus them” type of politics decreases the opportunity for growth as has been evident with the multiple political logjams south of the border.
I respect Hamilton for her efforts and commitment to try to become part of a change in Westman, but in my opinion this idea has little hope of catching on. Liberal reps have already denounced it and NDP reps were unavailable for comment.
Further to that, the idea may draw the ire of Mulcair, who is known for a hair-trigger response to denounce the idea and potentially the association or candidate as well.
In reality, it is more headache than it is worth. If any candidate believes strongly enough in their convictions they should feel comfortable standing behind their party for its policy and ideology solely.
If a coalition of co-operation goes forward here, it stands to the set back all parties trying desperately to gain ground in Brandon-Souris and the rest of Canada.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition August 23, 2013