I pledge allegiance...
There is no one perfect way to govern.
There is no government that benefits all of its people.
There are as much similarities to other parties as there is differences.
There is no "one ring to rule them all"...
I will begin with a statement of fact: I am not a card carrying member of any political party but I self-identify as a Liberal.
Over the last year I have been called many things; tax & spender, NDP, Left of centre, Liberal, protagonist, Fiscal Liberal. The titles are used by many trying to place me into a box, a category they can accept. This need to divide and identify has long been a benefit to create bonds and a curse to speak freely. Friends and foes are easily found within a banner of a political party aren't they?
The world is more than colours: BLUE, GREEN, RED, ORANGE, Red Tory, Blue Liberal.
During the municipal election the lack of defined political parties allowed for a more frank discussion of local policies and governance - on the surface. The municipal level allowed any resident who qualified a chance to represent their community. There was no requirements of experience or political connections to register. There was no aptitude test for basic understanding of the role of a councillor. After a council that felt more like a dysfunctional reality show than one of the largest governments within Canada; many 'normal' residents attempted to make a difference.
Beneath the surface a different environment of campaigning existed. The machines were in full force from all major political parties attempting to help guide paradigm aligned candidates. Endorsements from a Liberal MPP, a Conservative MP or a NDP backed organization gave a level of clout in an election process without a party structure. There is nothing illegal of being endorsed or having volunteers with experience on campaigns. How else would anything get done without some sort of guiding hand.
I spoke with many candidates from across the city who shared similar views and policies for Toronto. Many viewed themselves as Progressive, which could mean Liberal/NDP/Green to most. I also met many candidates who understood the realities of governance who aligned themselves Conservatively. All the candidates I spoke with understood that despite the headliner identifiers of "LEFT vs RIGHT", we all weren't that much different.
The notion of being able to speak with civility to any candidate about policies should not be taken with shock or amazement. Having the capacity to listen and digest information and opposing points of view is what we should look for in any government representative. The simple thought that 'good ideas are not proprietary' allowed John Tory to assimilate some of Olivia Chow's transit ideas - including more express bus service. Transit is not a conservative or liberal value. Transit is an issue within our city that is need of constant and consistent attention. Although we may politicize the type of transportation mode or the funding strategy, everyone who takes the TTC isn't thinking about how this is a (insert opposite party if negative or self-aligned party if positive) transit system.
Let's be honest; within political parties there are vast differences in ideologies amongst the members. I had been told that behind the scenes it would be amazing if residents knew the councillors who were willing to overcome their political differences to work together. For the camera they held their line to their voter base and were willing to create good policy when the time came through discussion and compromise. In the end of it all, all representatives within a level of government are simply co-workers. When question period ends for a term, there is always photos of Liberals, NDP & Conservatives all shaking hands and genuinely smiling.
The upcoming Federal Election will face many of the similar issues of party politics. We as voters will be given vague and detail-missing platforms filled with promises that are made to persuade us to support one party or the next. Advertisement will fill our recycling bins and our radio & television stations giving five second soundbites. In the end political affiliation will have more impact than policy.
Those who are on the fringe and are in the most dire circumstances will likely be let out of the conversation. Those who cannot vote but are deeply affected by alterations in policy and taxation will be forgotten. The talking points about helping the "MIDDLE-CLASS" only exacerbates these notions. Leave the rich alone and gloss over the concerns of the working poor in Canada to get elected. Maybe this is why voter turnout is pathetically low at times.
Is there hope, is there another way to accomplish socially beneficial policy within the construct of government? Honestly, likely not. There is no revolution surging in Toronto or Canada; the notion brings a sense of bemusement actually. Small efforts by those not directly involved are in the beginning stages. Having active members of the public that don't consume the diatribe without the substantiated facts should prove helpful. The biggest obstacle is engaging a public tired to pay attention despite all the political gamesmanship.
I leave with this advice: stay involved, stay educated and above all, pay attention.