Green and growing

My story about being a Green politician in Canada, and why it was the best thing I ever did.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

On the politics of fear

There have been recent press articles about the interim leader of the NDP, Nycole Turmel, belonging to the Bloc Quebecois in recent years. Detractors say this represents poor judgment on the part of the NDP leadership or at worst a shift towards separatism in the party.

I say this is nonsense. People change. Times change. The things that we once thought were the best of ideas can lose their luster, and when that happens, we need to change.

In the last decade or so, and up until the general election this year, support for the BQ was as much based in getting the best federal-provincial deal for Quebec as it was about sovereignty. In truth, many of the voters in my riding in Ontario are only concerned about what we can do for them specifically, or for the province. They see the election system as a way of selecting a champion who will go to Ottawa to fight for their share (or even, perhaps, more than their share) of government funding. I used to believe myself that this was the role of the federal politician.

But I have changed. While it is important to represent the interests of your constituency, it is equally important to contribute to the greater economic and social wealth of our country. Much as a rising tide lifts all boats, we all benefit from programs which assist everyone. Economic studies have show, for example, that improvements to education create a net benefit to society which far exceeds the net benefit to the individuals being educated!

So why is it such a big news story that Nycole Turmel used to belong to the BQ? Well, I submit to you that it is a smattering of what they call news on a slow day. It had the elements which make for good sensationalization, as it raised a spectre of fear. "Oh my god, what if the NDP has a hidden agenda?" the reader asks when presented with this "revelation". What nonsense. This type of story serves only the political elite who benefit from trashing the official opposition. Makes you wonder who owns the news media, doesn't it?

Let me be clear that I am Green Party member and candidate, and I would like everyone to vote Green. But this baseless attack on the NDP is an insult to our intelligence, and demonstrates how low the news media have sunk. We need to give Canadians more credit.

Congratulations to Nycole Turmel for being elected interim leader. Good luck to you.

(Opinions expressed are my own.)