I compare our national political scene to a schoolyard with more than enough bullies to make successful team-building impossible in whatever sport that school elects to compete in.
The political rivalry that currently exists at national and provincial levels undermines the ability of our elected leaders to come together on the key challenges of the day. In fact, it seems that the more fiery and polarized the disagreements on important issues for the country, the better some politicians like it, as do their voting bases.
Climate change, carbon taxes, pipelines, sexual identity and immigration are issues begging for a political consensus in our awkward and often inept federation.
Also, we need to recognize the face we present to the world in these troubled times must be unified and not one of quarreling fiefdoms undermining our national identity and values.
Unfortunately, the importance of winning majority positions in legislatures and parliament is also critical to our political leaders and such dominance allows ideological policy decisions to be made that reject solutions which could benefit the majority of voters, based on sensible compromise.
That’s why I was encouraged to read the outcome of recent P.E.I. elections, described as a “nice-off”, in which Dennis King's Progressive Conservatives won the most seats, and will form a minority government, thanks to a solid campaign with a thoroughly positive message.
The 47-year-old former journalist and public relations entrepreneur said he intends to carry on with a co-operative approach with his Green Party and Liberal opposition, as he sets out to run the province without a formal coalition.
I was delighted to read his comment that “I’m a strong believer in the capacity of minority government to create a collaborative environment where competing parties can put the interests of constituents and Islanders first.”
And King doesn't plan to join "the resistance" of Conservative premiers, including Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, in lining up to take pot shots at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's federal Liberals. He prefers the “smarter Island” way over the politics of confrontation.
Most telling, while federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer called to offer King congratulations and express delight at seeing "more blue on the map,” King indicated he's not necessarily aligning himself too closely with his federal counterpart.
So, what have we learned from the PEI election outcome and how can we benefit as a nation? Looking back at the 2015 federal election, if you voted it was for the party and leader or candidate of your choice at that time. And if the current polls tell us anything, many of you were disappointed and will likely vote for “change” by supporting another party or leader to register your disapproval and hope for better results; or not vote at all which would be a real shame knowing how every vote counted in PEI.
I have a couple of “strategic voting” suggestions you may want to consider for the October election to allow for the same kind of changes the Islanders clearly sought last month.
Firstly, with your eye on the opinion polls, cast your votes to avoid a majority government outcome, for the reasons I outlined earlier. You want policy solutions that will satisfy as broad a base of Canadians as possible and not dictate of strict single party ideologies.
Secondly, if you are feeling adventurous, again while tracking the polls, vote to produce as broad a base for potential collaboration amongst the parties in the race.
This may involve voting for parties, such as NDP or Greens you had not considered supporting before but would not find their platforms that difficult to swallow. After all, if they manage to capture some seats, they could play a valuable role in collaborating on the same kind of broader base solutions that PEI will now pursue.
Alan Walter is a retired professional engineer living in Oxford. He was born in Wales and worked in Halifax. He spends much of his time in Oxford, where he operates a small farm. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.