Saturday, March 17, 2012

Conservatives Aren't From The Devil

Kitchener, ON

"We need to do something to get rid of these c***s."

It's rare that I hear that word at all, let alone in a room full of people, but there he was, a "gentleman" speaking up at an event where NDP Leadership Candidate Nathan Cullen was speaking. To his credit, Mr. Cullen wagged his finger at the questioner and encouraged those assembled to keep the dialogue polite.

Although most of us wouldn't use that word when describing our political adversaries, there are plenty of us doing our part to contribute to the toxicity that we see in Ottawa.  We start labeling each other. Those of us on the left may secretly call Stephen Harper and his team "right-wing bigots with a hidden agenda," and those on the right call us "give-everyone-a-pony socialists who have no morals."

We must move above the fray if there is to be any consensus and co-operation in the next 3+ years in the House of Commons.

Recently I had a scheduled meeting with my Member of Parliament, Stephen Woodworth of Kitchener Centre.  Mr. Woodworth has been heavily lampooned locally for several reasons, the latest of which is what some see as the beginning of re-opening the abortion debate in Canada.

The day arrived for our meeting, and I must admit, I went in expecting a curmudgeonly, aloof guy who was simply meeting with me for "brownie points."  Instead, Mr. Woodworth proved to be extremely engaging and we talked about family and a few topics before getting to the meat of the meeting (no pun intended.)  I walked out with a new respect for this Conservative.

Similarly, I happen to know one of the other Conservative MP's in our area, Harold Albrecht of Kitchener-Conestoga. Harold was my pastor for at least a year, and during that time I quickly found out that here was a man of integrity, a real stand-up guy.  When we New Democrats lost our leader Jack Layton several months ago, we gathered at Speaker's Corner in downtown Kitchener. Who was also there? Harold Albrecht, showing his support and conveying his condolences.

Speaking of Jack Layton, he was called "Smilin' Jack" by many in the media, and that's because he could vehemently disagree with the policies of his adversaries, but not make it personal.

And that is the point of this blog entry. As we go forward as the Official Opposition in the next 3 years, we have a choice: to persist in name-calling and labeling Stephen Harper, Tony Clement, John Baird and others as devils, or we can do what Jack did: roll up our sleeves and work for Canadians. Mr. Harper, Mr. Clement, Mr. Baird and others have families, causes they are passionate about, and they love this country.

Whoever our next leader is - and we'll find out in a week! - would be wise to implement Jack's rule of keeping his caucus from yelling in the House of Commons when others are speaking. My pick for leader is Thomas Mulcair, known to have a temper. But I believe Mr. Mulcair can take a statesman-like approach, and rise above the fray of name-calling and demonizing.  This does not mean that we remain passive concerning the policies of the Conservative government, many of which we vehemently oppose.  We must get to the bottom of the electoral fraud scandal, and fight when taxpayer's money is spent on needless things like million-dollar gazebos and unneeded prisons.

But surely we can hold our tongue before calling our political foes c***s.

Mark Andrew Alward