The Political Games We Play

As some of you may know, I have spent a considerable amount of my adult life completely immersed in the game of Canadian Politics – sometimes at the Provincial level and sometimes at the Federal level.

For those of us who work in politics on a full-time basis, we find and take great comfort in becoming (and mostly remaining) part of a team. Many of you out there, (meaning you, the voter) may think politics to be a wonderful forum for narcissistic behaviour, but even Prime Ministers, Premiers and Mayors need a political team to get nominated, elected and yes, to be able to govern.

For better or worst, through factors such as my physical location (Newfoundland), issues of the day (Provincial ownership of offshore oil and gas deposits) and the people I knew who were already politically active, I became part of a Progressive Conservative team in the early years of my political involvement. In later years I’ve found it extremely hard to leave my Conservative team and friends behind, although there are days…… In retirement, as progressive and social issues become more import to my cohort, I find it more and more difficult to simply tow the Party line.

My point here is, in all my years of involvement with the Progressive Conservative Party, the Reform Party, the Alliance Party, and finally the Conservative Party of Canada, I have never been able to embrace or believe with a convert’s feverish conviction every crazy policy position put forward by my political party of the day.

Never doubt, however, that every word or policy position put forward by any political party serves one purpose only – and that is to get elected. In the case of a political party serving in government, that purpose is to get re-elected. So, I know the joke is that if a politician’s lips are moving he’s lying.  But the truth is, if a politician is saying something, 99.9% of the time he or she is asking for your political support. In plain English, that politician is asking for your vote. And rest assured, as a political staffer or a political organizer, I was often the one writing those crazy policy positions. In politics, you don’t have to believe it to write it or say it. All that matters is that someone, somewhere will agree with what you are saying or writing.

This is where being part of the team becomes imperative for people who participate in the game. Being part of the team very often keeps you within a system of checks and balances where extreme behaviours and/or positions are hard to achieve.

In spite of all this, it is my experience the very great majority of politicians and/or political staff who fight the great partisan political wars daily are good people. They are good people who are interested in and dedicated to public service. They may have different political views (either left or right, conservative or progressive) but their honourable intentions, for the most part, should never be in doubt. Most politicians and/or political staff want to do the right thing.

What does this mean, to do the right thing? Well, there are a host of rules or mottos that all democratic parties follow when promoting the public good, but “back in the day” the line most used went something like this: Government’s responsibility is to do the greatest good for the greatest number of people. Naturally, all political parties claim that they want to do the greatest good, so different policy approaches make for different political parties.

Through the different policy approaches by the different political parties comes another agreed upon rule – Government must ALWAYS uphold the rule of law.

In a democratic republic, a parliamentary democracy, or a democratic monarchy, governments must successfully uphold the rule of law. In fact, I would go as far as to say that most of our time in Canada, the United States and most other Western democracies, the rule of law applies.

Please note! I said, “most of the time”. Sometimes the system fails, and the application of the “rule of law” most often fails when it comes time to get re-elected.

We now have a situation here in Canada where it is alleged that great pressure was exerted on a former Attorney General, Jodi Wilson-Raybould, to change a legal determination to favour the Liberal Party of Canada’s chances for re-election. If this allegation is true, and from a personal standpoint I cannot see how it is not true, this coming October voters will be asked to condone or condemn the Liberal Party’s actions to ignore the rule of law.

But…… no matter the outcome, those who play for the Liberal Team here will remain loyal Liberal spokespersons, say whatever they are asked to say in defense of the Liberal Party, and promote and spout whatever Liberal propaganda they are given. I offer them no ill will here. I freely admit that I did the same for my Conservative Party friends for years.

I have never meet Jodi Wilson-Raybould, but I wish I had. Perhaps I will be lucky enough to meet her somewhere down the road.

Jodi Wilson-Raybould is a woman of exceptional principle, conviction and courage. She has my full support in doing what it is she is doing, and without a doubt, will be the subject of another of my many blogs to come.

I often wish that I had had the passion and courage that Jodi Wilson-Raybould has displayed during these past three weeks as the SNC-Lavalin story unfolded.  It is certain that speaking her truth was not the former Minister taking her path of least resistance.

The whole of the Liberal Party of Canada (the Team) has come out swinging at her after her appearance before the Justice Committee.   Every effort is being made to discredit her in the eyes of voters, and more’s the pity.

Today I’m on Team Wilson-Raybould, and the stakes are high.  But today I’m also a happy man.  Finally, finally, a politician who is not afraid to stand up for the rule of law even at the risk of electoral harm.






One thought on “The Political Games We Play

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