It’s party time

Decades ago, future stenographers practiced their touch typing by using the line: "Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of the party." In an age when women made up the bulk of typists, it now sounds politically incorrect. But drop the word “men” and insert “persons” and you have a suitable directive for anyone interested, not in typing, but in politics in Canada.
With a provincial election recently past and with a federal vote threatening, I can’t get politics off my mind. I have learned one thing over the years: In Canada the party is key – whether you like it or not.
Six federal elections ago, Jim managed to get nominated to run for one of the major parties. I backed him, but feared he wouldn’t have a hope. He took a vocal stand on traditional values and got support from his church. When they began knocking on doors, members of churches of all denominations joined the cause. As I remember, the media gave him little help, but regardless, he won handily. The prime minister of the time referred to Jim as “the conscience of the party.”
We should find a lesson here. I’ll come back to it.
The story didn’t end there. After four years, when his supporters discovered that he couldn’t fulfill all their dreams, they dumped him. They voted in someone who didn’t even mention family values. And now we have another lesson.   
Much more recently, Gord, a friend, asked me to sign his nomination papers so he could run as a candidate for a specific party. The party had as its main and only plank a strong statement related to family values. In other words he planned to run for a one-issue party. I told him I would sign, but wouldn’t vote for him even though I agreed with his basic philosophy. I planned to vote for the party I typically supported. During an all-candidates meeting, my friend made his position clear. Following the debate, I chatted with my party’s candidate who said, "I agree with the things he said about family."
I’ll return to another lesson I see here.  
During the provincial election of two weeks ago, Ontario voted down a proposal that would have changed forever the way we elect members to the provincial parliament. The proponents said it would make our system more democratic by giving small parties seats in the house. This would happen even though they might not elect a single member. The majority of voters disagreed and chose to stay with our present system. Basically, too many people show ignorance of the workings of the present system and want to change it to something they imagine might work better.
What are the lessons? In plain truth we don’t need a change. We just need to understand and use the system we have. In Jim’s story, he knew how it worked, and joined a traditional party that accommodated his belief system. He made a mark during his time in office. In Gord,’s story, he joined a one-issue party and lost, while a member of a traditional party, who held to the same values, won.
Jim lost the second time because the voters didn’t understand the system. They couldn’t see Canada as a land of compromise, where political change occurs slowly. They didn’t give him enough time to influence the party and eventually the parliament. 
If you want political power, join the party of your choice and make it greener, or more family friendly, or more responsive to the needs of people.

Ray Wiseman