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Canadian politics 101 

To the editor,

Bruce Wark's personal plight aside—and Bruce, that's all you seem to editorialize on these days, rather than relevant issues for the common good—("To serve and protect," Dec 8) the federal election is coming in just over one month and now is the time to educate yourselves. There is little to no chance of people in the all-important 18-25 age group finding the time to learn each and every fact about three political parties so here is a quick heads up to get you started. The Conservative Party wanted to support the Iraq War. This is a war that Americans largely supported, blindly following their president's patriotic propaganda. Support has dropped for both this president and this war by about 50 percent since its inception. The Conservative Party has stated that it will not reform its own mandates to keep women in subordinate roles in their own party as well as in their legislative representation. And women have left for other parties in relation to this stance, regardless of what the Conservative Party would try to tie to these moves. The Conservative Party wants to ban gay marriage. Initially Stephen Harper said he wanted it banned, but, realizing the potential to alienate gay Conservatives, moved to restate his ban preference as solidifying the definition of a word. But rather than mock Harper for wanting to make a word mean what it already means (the loving union of two people), I'll say this: Civil unions are not the same and come with stipulations to make gay people second-class citizens, something still being overcome by that very group. The change Stephen Harper calls for is a reversion to colonial times, the mandate of Conservatives worldwide for the past 20 years. This is an important time to move forward.  

The NDP: Well, it is what it is—a party to play balance-counterbalance. The NDP has historically served as a party to keep other parties answerable to their constituents. And that is the job it does best. I will not speak for or against the party, but Jack Layton is making a mistake to use that status to call for more. The NDP is not prepared to lead because it lacks the experience to do so. Layton was smart to use the minority status of our leaders to lobby for more positive change. He should be satisfied to continue in that role. Push for a little more leverage, but don't go too far or you risk losing the ability to be an effective force for positive change.  

The Liberal Party of Canada: Paul Martin's Liberals have made many positive changes. They have taken steps to improve our environment. Over $40 billion have been injected into health care. Reforms to education funding have made post-secondary education a little more accessible. Don't get me wrong, there is definitely a crapload of work to be done. But Martin knows how to get the most bang for his buck. A second term may just show the potential for that to happen. Justice Gomery gave his initial ruling. The RCMP have the next step to take. The Chretien Liberals are all but a distant memory. Don't hold the current party responsible. The Liberals are far from perfect, but the NDP isn't ready and the Conservative Party isn't suited. Unless we are going to reform the system in one fell swoop with an independent leadership (and that would be anarchy for decades to come), there is little choice. Don't take my word for it. I only gave you a heads up. Do a little reading. Ignore the newspapers (except The Coast— after page 3) and the mass media at large. The majority of journalists in the world have forgotten what impartial and non-partisan means. Read up in your local library. Read online journals. Talk to local political science professors. Walk out on the street and listen to the people talking. Just get informed. Otherwise, this election will end up as big of a mess as the last and nothing will change for the better.

By Matthew Campbell


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