A Conservative majority may not be the best thing for the environment, or social programs, or for Canadian priorities like healthy care, diplomacy or even Parliamentary values like transparency and fairness, but a Conservative Majority is what we’ve got for the next four years, so we better figure out fast how to get what we want from it.
There has never been a time when thinking creatively, and acting with courage, was more important. And despite moving Canada back into the dark ages of climate-denial and finding ourselves at the back of the bus when it comes to global diplomacy, the Harper Conservatives have provided some important leadership on issues such a National Parks. There’s a small opening there – a chink in the armor maybe – where we can work to advance progressive issues.
The Conservative government of the last five years, as someone recently told me, doesn’t like to be criticized. Who does? We can make the mistake of trying to teach them a lesson about democracy and being “grown up” about it, but look what happens when you spend your time trying to teach Canadians a lesson about democracy: You end up losing your seat and your party.
Instead, people across Canada who want to make this country a better place, and restore its standing as a leader among nations on issues like climate change and poverty reduction, should take a lesson from Loa Tzu: “This is the universal truth; the soft shall overcome the hard.”
There’s no arguing with the fact that the Conservative majority will pose a hard obstacle to progress in Canada. We can spend our next four years battering ourselves against it, or we can find a way to move slowly around it, over it, under it, through it. In Taoism this is called Wu Wei, which means “not forcing.” Nobody is going to force Prime Minister Stephen Harper to do anything. We’re going to have to, as Sun Tzu, the author of The Art of War, suggests: “capture our opponent whole.” That means moving carefully to make it so our values, our vision, our passion, slowly becomes their own. We must find what they respond to – be it positive reinforcement or public accolades, as difficult as that may be to stomach – and exploit them as an opportunity to advance a progressive vision for Canada.
If we do not, we’ll find ourselves on the outside looking in, and watching all that we cherish about this beautiful nation slipping from our grasp. And we will only have ourselves to blame for its loss. Every moment in life is a choice. This choice is clear: accepting the reality of a polarized politic and gaining what we can, or raging against it, and losing it. It’s that stark a dichotomy.
And while we do this, organize for the future. The political environment across Canada has been dramatically recalibrated. Michael Ignatieff has resigned. And the BLOC Quebececios has been reduced to a fringe movement; this is maybe the best of all the outcomes from the May 2nd vote. And though separatism is by no means dead, at the very least one of the key factors keeping the centre-left from uniting and moving forward together has been eliminated.
While we work to find ways to advance our goals under a Conservative majority, we must do exactly what Stephen Harper did to capture it: unite. It’s time to put ego and hubris and the fallacy of worn-out political history aside and come together under a single banner. It’s time to find common ground, and learn to live with our differences, and embrace the future as a united positive alternative. I simply can’t listen to people complain that with only 40% of the vote the Conservatives formed a majority any longer without demanding that the progressive voices in Canadian democracy join together to form an united, positive alternative.
And within that the Green Party will finally find its place in our House of Commons. Next to the defeat of the BLOC, the election of Elizabeth May in Saanich-Gulf Islands is the single greatest thing that has happened for Canadian democracy in many, many years. She will make Canadians proud.
I hope that people who want a better Canada won’t spend too much time moaning about what may happen now under Stephen Harper’s Conservatives. We may not like it much, but it’s what we’ve got; the sooner we make a choice to move forward, smartly, carefully, like water slowly but patiently wearing away at that which stands between us and our vision of Canada, the better. Our future is at stake; we are the ones who must make the choice about how we advance towards it.
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