Now that October is here, autumn is in full bloom and many of the trees have started to turn various shades of red, yellow and orange. While it all looks very pretty, it is a reminder that colder weather is on the way and winter is soon to begin.
Autumn is a time of change and it should come as no surprise that many of our elections in this country seem to occur during this season.
The political process in this country — and in particular this province — tends to swing back and forth between two extremes with very little room for any variation in this pattern.
Like the bright foliage in autumn, newly elected parties look very appealing at the time but once the bright leaves fall off, the stark reality of what is laid bare reveals the same old thing that we have had for years.
While we can’t change the seasons, it’s time that we started to think about ways to change this political pattern.
Over the past year, it had become apparent that Canadian politics is undergoing another of these swings in political power. It was only a short period of time ago that almost all of the elected governments in the country were Liberal.
Recent elections have seen a shift to parties on the right side of the political spectrum, including both of the most populous and powerful provinces in our federation, Ontario and Quebec, and indications are pointing to others continuing this swing, including Alberta.
With an election coming up in this province in a little over a year, it is too soon to say if we will be joining this shift but there are clear indications that the P.C.s are gaining momentum and recently had their new leader elected in a byelection.
The problem isn’t that we swing back and forth from left to right.
In fact, it is healthy that no one party remains in power for too long and switching parties allows for both sides to put their philosophies and policies into practice.
The problem is that our present system has led to a situation where the two main parties are almost assured of forming majority governments while receiving only around 40 per cent of the popular vote.
Once elected, majority governments have no check on their power and have the ability to bulldoze over the opposition in implementing their agenda, creating many decisions which the population later comes to regret.
The lure of this kind of power had led to a place where what is best for the party trumps everything else, there is virtually no cooperation between parties and there is very little room for dissent within a party before one is kicked out.
The time has come for us to seriously consider proportional representation in which parties receive a number of seats based on the percentage of support they receive from the population.
This would ensure that all parties would have a voice in our government whether they were in power or not. It would make majority governments a rarity and force representatives from parties to cooperate together to form governments and to come to decisions that are best for the people they represent, not just for the party for which they ran for office.
It would mean that major policy decisions, like perhaps building Muskrat Falls or buying a pipeline, would receive a full and proper evaluation by all parties before being implemented.
My biggest criticism of our present federal Liberal government is their failure to follow through on their promise to bring in proportional representation for the next election in 2019.
Like other majority governments, once they got in power they were unwilling to bring in a system that would force them to share power and in doing so have failed to address the most glaring inequality that exists within our political system.
When next autumn rolls around, it will be interesting to see if most of the leaves that come tumbling to the ground are Liberal red.
Brian Hodder is an LGBTQ2 activist and works in the field of mental health and addictions. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.