In federal politics, the Liberals have long been regarded as Canada’s “natural governing party” based on the electoral success they’ve enjoyed. If you crunch the numbers going back to the election of the Laurier Liberals in 1896 you’ll see that the Liberals have been in government for 80 years while the Conservatives have held power for 35 years.
I structured that last sentence deliberately, by the way.
“Government” and “power”, while often used interchangeably, are not the same thing. Political parties that have lots of experience in office understand this. Parties who aren’t “natural governing parties” too often don’t.
While negative connotations can attach to the idea of a natural governing party like arrogance and complacency, the term is also suggestive of political maturity and competence. Parties without that pedigree, conversely, don’t always transition well when they’re called upon to form government.
As a party, their core function is to articulate and represent the interests of their members. But once they are elected to govern, their obligation is much greater as it involves them serving and representing the interests of every citizen of the country. Not just their party members and executive, or their funders, but every citizen of Canada, no matter what their socio-economic status, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, hobbies/passions, happen to be.
I’ll be the first to admit that that’s a daunting challenge. And probably one that’s impossible to truly meet. But one thing I can guarantee is that if, instead of welcoming dialogue and input from people representing as many diverse communities as possible, you cut funding to organizations whose views are incompatible with your own and intimidate and prevent members of your civil service from expressing viewpoints that, again, are contrary to your ideology, you will fail miserably at fulfilling the mandate Canadians have granted you.
And you’ll quite likely have damaged the country badly in the process. In sec. 2 of the 1982 Charter of Rights and Freedoms, freedom of conscience, thought, expression, the press, association, and peaceful assembly are all mentioned as fundamental freedoms. That’s in recognition of the truth that’s been proven time and time again throughout human history that no one individual, or organization, or snippet of the political spectrum, ever has a monopoly on all the diverse values, philosophies, ideas and lifestyle choices that a society requires to be truly healthy and prosperous both in the short-term, and in the decades and centuries to come.
Yet since the Harper Conservatives came to power in 2006, they’ve cut funding to dozens of Canadian organizations whose committment to humanitarian values and equality apparently puts them at odds with their own government. They’ve also intimidated and silenced members of their professional civil service, again, to further a petty ideological agenda.
That might play well with the party faithful, but it does a grave disservice to Canadian democracy. To close, here’s a link to a post on Citizen Action Monitor where numerous examples of the Harper government’s ideological warfare against Canadians are listed and discussed.