No political party has a monopoly on good ideas, and, honestly, if there are good ideas to be had, the best thing for the electorate is that the policies actually get delivered on, regardless of which party is setting the legislative agenda.
Often, that’s not possible. In many places, political parties carve out their own ground and stick to it to maintain their connection with their “base”; conservative parties stick to the conservative ideologies and economic plans that got them where they are, and parties like the NDP hold policies that sit well with, for example, their union supporters and the broader views of their traditional supporters.
But it looks like we’re seeing something a little different in this province — and it’s not all that surprising, given that the three mainstream parties seem to be battling for pretty much the same base.
The truth is, in a province where a large proportion of the voting population has depended on government involvement in most facets of life for so long, we don’t really have a true conservative or right-wing party running for office. “Red Tory” might even be too weak a description for our particular brand of Progressive Conservatives. You might better describe our three provincial parties as left, lefter and leftist.
So it really isn’t that strange that parties with similar leanings could easily absorb each other’s policies.
What’s interesting in this case is the sudden speed at which it is happening.
Just over a month ago, at the Progressive Conservative party convention, the assembled party faithful voted for a policy resolution on fracking — the oil industry’s controversial hydraulic fracturing — that basically unanimously upheld the status quo, that the province’s environmental assessment legislation was a more than adequate mechanism to maintain environmental safety for the province’s citizens and wildlife.
Mere weeks later, there’s a new decision: the government has announced that fracking’s on hold, pending more review and public input — exactly what the province’s New Democrats had been calling for over the last few months (and which the Dunderdale government had been pooh-poohing).
Then, there’s NDP MHA Gerry Rogers’ particular hobby horse. Thursday, the provincial government announced it was going to protect rights for transgender people in the province’s Human Rights Code. That’s all well and good, but when the same provincial Tories brought in a new Human Rights Code in 2012, they were having none of it, dismissing Rogers’ call for such changes out of hand.
So, what’s happening?
Are the last-place Tories seeing some kind of light?
Is this just a bit of posturing for the current polling session?
Or, more to the point, seeing a self-fracked provincial New Democratic Party, are the Tories just moving in to absorb the most popular of the NDP’s policies, before the Liberals name a leader and start picking off popular NDP policies themselves?
In the end, it doesn’t really matter as long as the voting public can have its views reflected in the direction its government takes.
What’s next? Full-day kindergarten? Because the NDP is pushing for that, too.