As neo-conservatism hopefully begins its twilight fade to black in 2007, there are signs that political discourse is finally growing up and away from its ridiculous funnelling of every issue into the blood sport arena of partisanship and sloganeering.
After all, most Canadians want action from their pols, not schoolyard name-calling and obfuscation.
It is only a small minority of political operatives and media sycophants hovering around the centres of power who think it's more important to score a rhetorical point by humiliating a political opponent than it is to work in concert with elected colleagues to get stuff done.
The environment is the obvious issue that unites most Canadians, and most of us don't give a damn who delivers the plan. Stéphane Dion's surprising Liberal leadership win underlines what citizens have been telling polsters: we really do want and expect action on climate change, clean drinking water, garbage reduction and breathable air.
The fact that the NDP has the greenest leader it's ever had, combined with a rejuvenated green Liberal party, greenies in the Bloc and even a few in the conservative Tory caucus (hard to believe, but true), should spell consensus.
But old reflexes are hard to change. Jack Layton has tried to work with the Tories to clean up their lame-ass Clean Air Act. It must be an odious task to work with the Harper climate-change know-nothings and then to be pilloried for it.
In truth, however, all the opposition parties are aligned in trying to redraft this bill, because if the Conservative government falls this spring, we will be without overarching policy for some time. And if the Tories win a majority, the other parties would have no chance at all of improving the act.
So who needs to hear Liberals whining that Layton is trying to hog all the attention for this initiative? Just get on with it.
And Jack, spare us the waste-of-space press conference pranks like the one where you said Dion should renounce his dual citizenship. Maybe he should; maybe he shouldn't. But right now, who cares?
Yes, we know it got you in the press, but it looked like what it was crass opportunism. You said it yourself at the NDP convention last fall that you consider Dion a man of integrity. You said it, and you know it's true. So work with the guy.
The recent flare-up over ad lib comments made by rookie Green party leader Elizabeth May to a bunch of nuns during the recent federal by-election in London underlines again why Canadians are fed up with camp-centred politics. In a rather rambling answer to a nun's question about abortion, May allowed that while her party has no intention of ever reopening the abortion debate and that she herself supports a woman's right to choose, she could never imagine a circumstance where she would opt to have an abortion. Choosing her words quite poorly, May has inflamed the blogosphere by saying "no one in their right mind would want to have an abortion- and that she doesn't think women "have a frivolous right to choose.-
Famed feminist and founder of lefty website Rabble.ca Judy Rebick shot back an open letter to May saying, "You have questioned the most important victory of the women's movement of my generationÉ. Since you have so little respect for me or for the women's movement that mobilized for so long to win this hard-earned right, I hope you will understand that I ripped up the cheque I had written to the Green party and you can no longer rely on me for support.- Perhaps Rebick hadn't read May's clarification of her comments in a blog post on the Rabble site a week before she tore up her cheque. In it she says, "I personally strongly support legal access to abortions for any woman (under whatever circumstances) who chooses to have one. What I was trying to suggest was that slogans distort the reality that there are moral dimensions to both positions."
It's a reasonable position and probably reflects what most pro-choice Canadians think: women must have the choice, but abortion often is a difficult psychological experience. It makes sense to say "Abortion is legal; now, how do we create a society where fewer women need to have one."
Rebick is having none of it, but her position, like partisan brinksmanship, strikes me as similar to the Bush doctrine of "If you aren't with us, then you are for the terrorists."
Say what you want about the Greens, and there is much to question about their supposed progressive credentials, but May gets the drift that we're at the end of the era of the slogan.
That said, there is one slogan we could stomach this year: working together gets stuff done.