The case for working together

  • Dec. 10, 2008 8:00 a.m.

Submitted by Nathan Cullen, MP Skeena–Over the last two weeks, the face of Canadian politics has changed so dramatically that it’s difficult to remember how we lamented the apathy and low interest of the October election.We have seen the formation of a coalition between rivals, the New Democrats and Liberals, the Conservative minority government almost fall, then saved by the Queen’s representative shutting Parliament down early. All this as the economy continues to melt and folks are losing their jobs, homes and hope for the future.I have made the case for the need for MPs from all political persuasions working better together from the moment I put my name forward to represent the Northwest.The controversy began as the government made its response to the economic crisis in its ‘Economic Update’ or mini-budget. It was seen as a failure by everyone from Canada’s Chamber of Commerce to those concerned with social and environmental issues. Rather than announce a stimulus package, government spending for job creation, as had every other government in the free world, the Harper government chose to cancel the largest union’s right to strike, pay equity for women and public financing for political parties. While there may be debate on these issues, it was a stunning mistake for two reasons: 1. It had nothing to do with the economy; 2. It was an attempt to score political points in the midst of a crisis, hoping no one would notice or stand up to government.When a schoolyard bully intimidates other kids, it can seem that there is no hope for those preyed upon. Until the moment when the bully goes too far and the other kids figure out they have the option of standing together. Politics is the art of the possible and in these difficult times we must all show leadership to help people protect their jobs, pensions and get work. Government should never play the leading role in an economy but government can be a pivotal part of a recovery, as has been the case throughout Canada’s history.While folks may disagree with parts of the accord (see www.nathancullen.ca ), we cannot accept as the gospel truth all the spin coming from a government desperate to hold onto power. Coalition governments are legal, have ruled in Canada, and are common and effective the world over. This one has dedicated itself to creating jobs, installing a cap and trade system to fight climate change, supporting ailing industries like forestry, fishing and auto, and bringing in a national affordable childcare program as first priorities. As your elected representative, my first responsibility is to negotiate, advocate and fight for what’s best for our region. I sincerely believe, without partisan interest, that a coalition government would be better able and willing to support the future we want for our families.At the end of the day it might come down to a choice of hope over fear. A hope that we can do politics better, that the days of winner-take-all bullying is replaced by collaboration and understanding, where one region of the country is not pitted against the other for quick gain while the fabric of the national dream is ripped apart.Over the next days and weeks I will be holding community forums, calling and writing hundreds of people who have contacted me and continuing the conversation I have cherished these past five years as your Member of Parliament.

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