What Rickjay said. Basically, I discuss American politics mostly on this board because that’s what everyone else discusses. This is not a Canadian message board - it is predominantly American. That’s also why Rickjay and Declan and other Canadians talk about mostly American politics and policy on this board. Or for that matter, why the residents of all the other countries that participate on this board talk mostly American politics and policy. For some reason, I seem to be the only one who gets repeatedly called on it.
Anyway… What’s my opinion of Canadian politics? In a nutshell:
I think the NDP are socialists who should not be trusted with power, as they would drive the country into the ground as socialists have done elsewhere.
The Liberals are a party that lacks any overriding goal other than keeping their cronies in power. They will govern from the left or the right - whichever happens to give them political advantage on a given day. They have also been running Canada for so long that they have become lazy and corrupt and arrogant, and they should be replaced. I will say that they have done a reasonable job of fiscal management in Canada, and for that I give them a pass on a lot of stuff. However, their treatment of the military has been disgraceful and immensely damaging to Canada’s standing in the world. And for that I can’t forgive them.
The old Progressive Conserative party was almost indistinguishable from the Liberal party. A little stronger on the military, a little less reflexively anti-American, but other than that the differences could be very hard to spot.
The old Reform party was made up of too many old religious farmers for my tastes. The party gave off a distinct vibe of being an agrarian throwback party. I couldn’t support them, despite the fact that a lot of my extended family was heavily involved in the party.
The Bloc doesn’t interest me. It’s a regional separatist party that is not interested in the good of Canada - only the good of Quebec.
Which leaves the New Conservative party, my choice pretty much through default. I like Stephen Harper quite a bit - he’s an intellectual with a solid economics background and a lot of good ideas. But the party he is leading is still top-heavy with old Reform types, and that bugs me. I recently spent an evening chatting with a Conservative MLA, and while he seemed like a pretty nice guy he was shockingly ignorant of the facts. He wouldn’t survive five minutes on the SDMB. I think the party has too many of these types in it.
So, for me there are no real good choices in Canada. I like living in Alberta, and I think Alberta has found an excellent way to govern that the rest of Canada should pay attention to. We budget carefully and conservatively, our spending by and large stays under control, and we maintain a business-friendly, low tax environment and a pro-American stance that encourages trade and investment. We stay away from excessive social spending, and as a result we’ve never had to institute a provincial sales tax.
But Canadian federal politics don’t interest me much any more, for several reasons. One is that I’m totally cynical about it. The strong party discipline in Canada and the lack of disclosure about government affairs means it’s hard to learn what’s going on and in any event the government always behaves predictably. When the government decides to do something, it’s pretty much a foregone conclusion.
For pure spectator value, the U.S. system is much, much better. There’s always drama. Just because a President proposes something doesn’t mean it will happen. Congressmen can and do cross party lines on individual votes and oppose their own parties and presidents. The system is more open, and the documents are all available online for perusal. Sometimes, just trying to find the simplest of information about Canadian policy can make you pull your hair out.
Another thing that works against Canadian policy wonkism is that our election cycles are unpredictable. If we knew an election was going to be on Nov. 2 of the next year, we would start debating it and we’d have lots of time to clarify positions, expose government fallacy, etc. But that’s not the way it works here. Governments spring snap elections on us all the time, giving little time for debate and consideration of policy. It also gives the incumbent government far too much power, because they can time elections to world events. Imagine if Bush had that power - he could have called a snap election for, say, a couple of weeks after his ‘mission accomplished’ speech, when public opinion on the war was sky-high. You’d never get rid of the guy if he had that kind of power.
Anyway, there are some thoughts on Canadian politics for you.