My Story in Politics
I have followed politics from Diefenbaker to Trudeau II. In Ashcroft in the early 80’s I started a group called SAGE(Save A Good Environment) to oppose BC Hydro’s plan to build a coal fired power plant in Hat Creek. I then realized that good government was essential to achieve the greater good in a holistic way rather than issue by issue. When the Canadian Green Party started in 1983 I quit my job to go work for a party that I thought could transform our society. I ran as a federal candidate in 1984 in Calgary Centre.
I soon became disenchanted with some of the extreme idealism, especially with the social policies in the Greens, which were very similar to the NDP. While many in the Greens and other leftists seemed to believe that business was evil; I saw business and competitive free enterprise as essential to providing goods and services in the most efficient ways. At the same time, free enterprise left alone would destroy the whole planet very quickly so it was essential for government to protect long term good through regulation.
I also saw how government attempts to look after people through devices such as welfare and various other social programs while addressing short-term needs often had bad long term effects. People are best looked after by family, friends and neighbours. When the government takes the responsibility; others tend to stop. People naturally look after each other on a small local scale. In emergency situations, even strangers will help each other.
Humans are so social, that to focus on an individual alone is to ignore the broader over-arching issues that connect us all. When government replaces the primary functions that our neighbours and loved ones provide, it has a tendency to degrade the quality and strength of our relationships to the ones we care about most: our immediate community.
We should work to connect to those physically near us, keeping government programs focused on larger national issues. Community level change should be driven by the community itself, leaving each person less isolated and not forced to turn to large bureaucratic systems when in need.
After a few years as a green, I switched to the Social Credit party. Many disenchanted Greens were searching for more practical politics at the time but I am the only one that I know who went to the Social Credit. In search for a party that held my values and applied those values to create meaningful policy, I moved to the Liberals and briefly, the Conservative party.
Finally, I realized that it is the system that is broken. While the original parliament didn’t have parties; parties inevitably form over issues. One of the problems we have is that parties have continued to get more powerful but less flexible. And parties have become more centralized around official party leaders. So now MP’s elected for one of the big parties have to be obedient to the party leader. Instead of the MP’s representing their constituency to the federal government, they represent the party to the local area.
We need to reboot the system.