Off the record: Political spectrum needs counterweight

The Canadian political landscape is out of balance and I think one solution could be the launch of a federal Wildrose Party.

The Canadian political landscape is out of balance and I think one solution could be the launch of a federal Wildrose Party.

Before you brush that idea off, hear me out. The Conservative Party has an oligopoly over the ideals of Canadians. While the NDP and Liberals try their best to differentiate themselves, they both pander to similar voters – namely people on the left end of the scale. Both parties are more supportive of the philosophy that our best and brightest are in the strongest position to guide the rest of the population. For the collective benefit of the entire population, leaders decide which social programs are worthy of spending public resources on. Our public healthcare system is a practical example of those ideals.

On the right side of the spectrum is the concept of free enterprise, where the government minimizes involvement to give us as much breathing room as possible. As each member of the population strives for individual success, they fulfill the needs of their community more efficiently and build a stronger society. Voters in Canada who agree with this concept will often support the Conservative Party.

During the 40-plus years of Progressive Conservative rule in Alberta, the Wildrose party – which believes staunchly in minimizing state involvement – was able to keep the ruling party balanced by offering opposition from farther right on the spectrum, while the PCs were also fielding opposition from left-wing parties also. At the federal level, there’s nothing to keep the Conservatives from drifting towards the centre. Suppose voters want to see the corporate tax rate lowered, or the death penalty reinstated, or assault rifles legalized – the Conservative Party is of no use. A Wildrose Party, perhaps led by Preston Manning, would be able to offer those choices.

The fringe Libertarian Party supports the legalization of all firearms and the abolishment of taxation, but they haven’t fielded a candidate in the infant riding of South Okanagan-West Kootenay, where only political newcomers have thrown in their hats.

Conservative candidate Marshall Neufeld does very well embodying his party’s archetype.

His main opponents, Liberal candidate Connie Denesiuk and NDP candidate Richard Cannings, both have a strong chance at winning, but since they find common ground among several key election issues – inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women; withdrawing military involvement in Syria; legalization of marijuana – I suspect they may cannibalize each others’ votes.

Anybody in favour of free enterprise has no party to vote for other than Neufeld. But Canadians with a more socialist ideals have to choose between the NDP and Liberal Party.

That’s probably why there seem to be more endorsements against the Conservative Party than in favour of any one. One group of dismayed veterans launch a campaign titled ‘ABC – Anyone But Conservatives’. Several other groups are delivering that same message, including many websites that help left-of-centre voters place their egg in the best basket – votestrategically.ca; projectdemocracy.ca; voteswap.ca; and votetogether.ca.

“There is a risk associated with strategic voting,” said Denesiuk. “Strategic voting is casting a ballot against a party or candidate which can lead to a second (or third) best result.”

Neufeld didn’t want to comment on the sites specifically, but despite their slant against his party, he praises any effort to increase voter participation and turnout.

“Those practices are healthy within our democracy and should be encouraged.”

MP Joyce Murray, while running against Justin Trudeau as leader for the Liberal Party in 2012, suggested that the Liberal, NDP and Green Party co-operate in the 2015 election by fielding only the strongest candidate in each riding. While politicians are supposed to boast the never-say-die attitude and pretend they have a chance in every corner of the country, Murray’s proposal, albeit submissive, would have made it extremely challenging for any party to form government without garnering a majority of the popular vote.

When asked if they would consider dropping out to increase the chance of a Conservative defeat, Cannings said “I have no intention of dropping out before the election, especially considering the fact that the NDP is the only party in this riding that can defeat the Conservatives,” while Denesiuk replied by saying “In this riding Liberal support is building, NDP support is waning and there are still many undecided voters.”

Dan Walton is a reporter with the Penticton Western News.