Motherhood and apple pie

Some issues never seem to go away

Looking at provincial politics, or federal for that matter, it doesn’t seem that the issues change very much from election to election.

At least not what is sometimes referred to as “motherhood and apple pie” issues: ones that are universally agreed upon, just as no one would disparage motherhood, and everyone likes apple pie.

Two of the main ones are education funding and health care; better daycare provisioning seems to also pop up regularly.

So why, if these issues are so important that every election, candidates list them as top concerns, do we see so little progress over the years? Successive provincial governments have increased education funding, but not at a rate to match increasing costs for teachers, textbooks, and everything else that goes into educating a child, including power to heat the classrooms. School buildings are aging, and require in creased maintenance or replacement.

Health care costs keep spiraling upwards, and the concept of assisting people with daycare costs is proposed by one side of the other in almost every election.

Once elected to office, many idealistic politicians discover they aren’t going to be able to accomplish the change they or their supporters hoped to see, in the face of both having to conform to party ideals and dealing with an entrenched bureaucracy. The best they can often manage is small steps to their goals.

It’s no surprise then that some of the best social improvements come under minority governments, like Medicare or the Canada Pension Plan. But it has been a long time since we saw a stable minority government at provincial or federal levels – most of the time they collapse as soon as they are put to the test, rather than parties working together for the best interests of the country or province.

Though it’s unlikely to happen anytime soon, especially since Justin Trudeau broke the Liberals promise to reform the federal election system, this is one of the reasons that reform is so badly needed. Rather than electing a series of four-year dictatorships, where the ruling party elite use the legislature as a rubber stamp, we need a system that is more responsive and responsible to voters.