Sunday, January 22, 2012

Mike Crawley and the Changing Direction of Canadian Politics

Anyone who's known me for very long knows that I've never been much for party loyalty. The design of our parliamentary democracy almost prohibits it. There are the three major parties (four, if you count the Bloc Quebecois), but then dozens of sub-parties and even independent candidates to sort through, and if you go through party line alone, you're often disappointed.

More so when the party line begins to shift. Recently, either early this week or late last week, the Liberal Party of Canada had elections for party president (which isn't the same as Party Leader, their candidate for PM), electing Mike Crawley, a businessman from from Toronto who is Chief Exec over at International Power, a green energy development and consultancy firm. As far as politics go, I like Crawley's stance, but, while he's a good bell-weather for how the party feels, he doesn't run for offices and his personal politics aren't that much of a national issue in practical terms.

What was relevant was that the Liberal caucus also voted on and set party policy for the next cycle, quite literally changing the party line. Some of these changes were good... opposition to Bill C-11 (Canadian SOPA, in the broadest and most general sense of the analogy), support for greener development projects, infrastructure enhancements... these are selling points. Some seem like they were torn page-by-page out of my own political writing, even. Others are just bad, like moving from the current, flawed electoral model to an even more flawed one. Some are, well, interesting.

If any of you follow Canadian news, you probably already heard about the Biennial Convention of the LPC and you probably already heard that the party voted to adopt a resolution calling for the legalization of marijuana for recreational use. Pot use, not surprisingly, is a rather heated topic these days, with a a variety of different views held by an equally broad array of people: the issue is split less on demographic lines than one would think at-a-glance.

Local Ben Rogers says "About time they stopped demonizing something with a significantly lower harm factor than alcohol and tobacco. So long as the proper protections for youth and potential addicts (I'm aware of the significantly low addiction coefficient, but there will always be abusers) are in place, it has my support. I don't wanna [sic] sound like a promoter (I'm neutral on the subject), but I believe it'll have a lot more benefit for this country than just revenue for public coffers."
This is a common phrase I hear in day to day life: "Well, I'm not a pot smoker, but...". While many people try to distance themselves from pot use (including plenty of people who've smoked up before), non-users and users alike agree that, as drugs go, Marijuana is pretty mild stuff, on the order of a few stiff drinks. In fact, depending on the social circle, I've seen people vehemently refuse smoking tobacco and strongly advocate smoking cannabis. Then, as Ben alluded, there's the prospect of revenue enhancement for Government (mostly federal, I would imagine), based on tobacco- and alcohol-style taxation rates on the green stuff. Public safety would be enhanced with state-inspected marijuana being that approved for public sale. No more adulterants.

Similarly, many people are strongly against legalizing pot, or strongly for it. One person (who preferred to remain anonymous) writes: "Well I know who I'm voting for this year", suggesting that "Legalize It" is their primary motivation for choosing their MP in the next election cycle.

That in itself is somewhat bothersome. For myself, I am in favour of legalization and taxation, particularly where we're just fine letting people drink alcohol and smoke formaldehyde-laced tobacco and filling the public coffers on a portion of the proceeds. You can't exactly make a health-based argument against marijuana without applying the same logic to our nation's other, legal drugs, particularly where the indications are that marijuana might be less toxic than either. But this post isn't about that, it is about a larger issue: the single-issue voter.

Governance is not a science, and its discipline is incredibly complex. Governments are ultimately responsible for all facets of the "welfare of the people": economically, legally, medically, and if need be, militarily. To take an issue as complex as governing a country of 34 Million and boil it down to a single issue. That's not what the party is doing, but that IS what a lot of voters are doing... and that just won't do.


  1. Just stopping by to say hey I found your blog through Cam's (A woman's place is)and I look forward to reading your posts!

    1. Thanks Lexie! It's always nice to have readers. :)