A Better Political Environment: Why I’m Voting “1” Joyce Murray.

As someone who has become a partyless voter, I was intrigued when the Liberals announced the “supporter” option for people to vote for their next party leader. Given that there was no cost associated, and that I really have no affiliation with any party at this point, it seemed like a good idea to sign up.  My electronic voting information is now sitting on my desk and I wanted to reflect on my thought process. 

Some history: I was a member of the NDP from sometime in the mid-2000s to late 2008, when their environmental platform fell completely flat for me. I have never voted Liberal – before coming of voting age, I had always considered myself someone who would vote Liberal, but a combination of homophobic Liberal MPs and some really strong NDP candidates brought me to the NDP and up until that 2008 federal election all of my provincial and federal votes went to the NDP.

Since then, I have typically voted either NDP, Green, or in one unusual and frustrating election, Communist. But, other than a brief stint with the Pirate Party of Canada, I have not felt drawn to any particular party as one I could consistently support. The NDP continues to slide on the environment, and I have serious reservations about the Green Party’s regressive policies on income splitting and labour laws. At first I felt like the only one in this predicament, but I have met more and more people in the same boat – there really is no party for us on Canada’s political spectrum.

I have long been saying that if the Liberal Party wants to recover from its devastating loss in the last election, and its long decline, it needs to start being small L liberal again. I would certainly be open to voting for the party, if it can show that it has moved past the “business liberal” movement of Paul Martin and the rest. And given the NDP’s rightward shift, I could see the Liberal party filling a void on the left, even if it’s the centre-left.

At the last debate, Justin Trudeau talked about how thrilled he was to hear the Greens would not be running a candidate in Labrador, and how he wants to draw voters not only from the Greens, but also the NDP and the BQ.  I believe the precise way of doing that is to stop trying to out-conservative the Conservatives and start liberal-ing the Liberals.  (This belief applies equally to the NDP, which could also apply the same concept – I think the party most successful at doing so in the next election will differentiate themselves into success).

Speaking of the rightward shift, this is the actual point of this entry. I feel like our entire political spectrum has had a rightward shift, in large part because conservatives have been able to frame the debates with attacks on all the opposition parties. Rather than actually owning their own views, and advancing arguments as to why their position is better, the left and centre-left parties have fallen into the trap of responding to false accusations about their policies and spending time explaining why they don’t do all the things they’re accused of, even if some of those things might actually be things they believe in and are supportable. For example, instead of “don’t listen to those silly accusations, here’s our plan for the environment,” everyone (except the Green Party) seems to be saying “of course we don’t want a carbon tax, why would anybody want a carbon tax; we’re exactly like the Conservatives in every way.” If you portray it like that, of course people will start to expect it of you.

I truly believe that holding firm views and advancing them by presenting them to the public and explaining their benefits is the way we should do politics in this country. Rather than letting other people frame our views, we need to come up with ideas to solve our problems, and to improve our country, and start putting them forward. Of course we should respond to legitimate critiques, and be willing to adapt our views when proven wrong, but we need to stop framing discussions in the context of “vote for me, that other person is [or that other person’s ideas are] terrible.”

The only person I have seen keep the focus entirely on her own ideas in the Liberal leadership race is Joyce Murray. I support her for a number of other reasons – she is the only candidate proposing a practical method, what she refers to as “cooperation,” of bringing in democratic reform. She also has what I believe to be progressive views on the legalization of marijuana, focusing on a digital economy, a carbon pricing scheme, and other environmental initiatives. But it’s the tone that she brings to the debate that makes me believe she would be a good leader in our political landscape today.

Having signed up as a supporter, I now get regular emails from virtually all of the candidates. For some reason, Justin Trudeau has either not been sending emails, or has not sent them to me. His public comments, though, are often focused on criticizing the views of his fellow candidates and the Conservatives. In the debates, for example, his responses frequently start with “the current government…” followed by an explanation of why the current government is bad, and if we’re lucky a brief passing mention of what he believes; rarely what he will do.  The other four candidates have done this to a lesser extent, and have all sent emails over the last few weeks with jabs at Murray’s policies and views, often offering no explicit alternative for improvement.

Murray is the one candidate who I rarely see a negative comment from – and the jabs at the Conservatives are typically secondary to a clearly outlined explanation of what she would do, and in the debates a direct answer to the question – direct answers are something else we need more of, but I think that’s another post for another time. Even when I tweeted negatively [yes, I’ll admit my own failure in doing so] the other day about Martha Hall-Findlay’s blatant jabs at Murray, the Joyce Murray team conspicuously did not interact with it. I say conspicuously, as I have tweeted in her favour a few times and inevitably either she or someone clearly identified as being on her team has either retweeted or at least responded to me. The overwhelming amount of content in her social media is positive – look what great things I will do, we can do this together.

It would be hypocritical of me to post examples of her opposition’s failings – though to be honest I frequently fall into these traps myself. Regardless of whether or not she wins next month, I think we could all learn a lot from the way she has approached this campaign. I don’t agree with her on everything, and still have some misgivings about the Liberal Party, but the poise, consistency, and tone she has brought to her campaign has, I think, been very successful at reframing the debate.

So, come April 7, I will be voting “1” Joyce Murray. And if she wins, there is a very serious chance that I will vote Liberal in the next federal election. She is the only candidate about whom I can say this.  And maybe those of us who have become partyless, who have a progressive-realist political view, with an environmental bent, and a thing for democratic reform, may at least temporarily have a place to land.

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One response to this post.

  1. […] « A Better Political Environment: Why I’m Voting “1” Joyce Murray. […]

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