Doing things right

I agree with The Star‘s senior political columnist Susan Delacourt when she says that Conservative Deputy Leader Lisa Raitt showed, earlier this week, as she critiqued the recent Trudeau cabinet shuffle “how it’s possible to do criticism on the sunny, high road. An endangered skill, perhaps, but one worth preserving, especially if Canada is determined to not fall into Trump-style politics here.

We are apparently heading into a new, more cantankerous era between Ottawa and Queen’s Park;” Ms Delacourt explains “between the red and blue teams in both capitals. This new climate of combativeness was one of the driving forces behind Trudeau’s cabinet shuffle, we’re told — why a whole new minister, LeBlanc, is needed to manage the escalating tension around the first ministers’ table … [and] … In these days of Trump and Twitter (the subject of last week’s column) it’s going to take some serious discipline to avoid the descent into raw nastiness — the kind we see every day south of the border. Politics is always personal — that’s not new — but the deeply personal enmity between partisans seems to be increasing in Ottawa these past few years, across all parties. It’s not U.S.-style meanness, but it could head there … [that. therefore, is] … what made Raitt’s comments so remarkable this week and perhaps a bit of a milepost on how far things have already travelled down the low road. The nastiness is so pervasive that we sit up and take note when politicians can manage to say something kind about their rivals.

LisaRaitt_Super_PortraitIt is the duty of the official opposition in parliament to criticize the government, to call it to account, to demand better and to offer better alternatives. It is a relentlessly partisan and adversarial system … that’s the nature of parliamentary democracy: offering choices. Susan Delacourt is correct ~ our, Canadian, political discourse is descending into nastiness, and it doesn’t have to and Lisa Raitt, who has always seemed to me to be a genuinely ‘nice’ person, has shown how it can be done right. It shouldn’t be remarkable, but it is.

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