Collaborative vs Divisive Politics

The British election of 2010, that brought in a minority parliament created an atmosphere of compromise where parties were able to negotiate amongst their common ideals to make parliament work. This is in stark contrast to Canada where we've been in continuous minority governments for over five years, and any proposal for political parties to work together or create a coalition is greeted with skepticism. Canadians are known globally for our diplomacy but have not practiced this at home. This country was founded upon a Grand Coalition between Ontario and Quebec, but since our founding, Canada's political culture has become dominated by the party with the most seats.

Under the present Canadian political reality, minority governments look unavoidable. Regional differences across the country have created this situation unless one of Canada's four largest political parties collapses which seems unlikely. Canada has become accustomed to majority governments where one party is in power and receives all the accolades and criticism during their term.

Due to our political history even though we are in period of minority governments most Canadians view the party that wins the most seats as the only legitimate party. An unchanging belief even to minority governments has made the prospect of a minority government seen as illegitimate. In Europe if a country fails to win the majority or a working coalition with other parties they could lose power. Canadians must accept the present political reality where their parties could form coalitions. Also, Canadians must accept that the Bloc Quebecois is part of parliament, represents Quebec, which is still part of Canada, and in order to make a minority government work, agreements can be made with them as long as national unity is not affected.

Another big reason why Canadians are not opened up to new political possibilities is media negative coverage. The media is intently focused on negative politics and most people don't see any positive progress from their political leaders from the media. Parties are also largely to blame for this too because of negative campaigning. Negative campaigning is seen as being as successful but as it has become more prevalent in future elections, fewer people are voting because are disillusioned with politics. Also, in the world of opinion polls more and more voters see their votes as being useless because; they don't care, they only have one vote, or the election in their riding has already been decided and there vote is useless. More Canadians must become educated in civic affairs and how there government works so they know what their vote is worth and if they're unhappy with their political system what options are available.

Politics of conciliation and compromise should be a natural fit for Canadians. Canadians are seen as being collaborative. We are seen as being inclusive for our openness to immigrants from around the globe and our establishment as being a socially tolerant society. On the international stage, Canadians are viewed as friendly and we're famous for our peacekeeping. Our values prove we are inclusive not divisive yet we have an archaic political culture unable to work across party divides.

Collaborative approaches are not just limited to politics. Originally, internet websites were run top-down but once online social media was introduced internet growth swelled with increased openness. Former Canadian Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier is famous saying the 20th century would belong to Canada and is often ridiculed for it. But Canadians made a huge impact on global affairs with our soft power approach and after helping other nations end conflicts it's time to end our divisive politics at home in favour of a more collaborative approach. In the US, negative campaigning is an industry. Barack Obama was able to win a presidential election on the promise of conciliation and cooperation. Canadian political leaders should learn from that election and practice a more cooperative form of politics rather than division.


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Updated: December 28, 2010

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