Crawl Across the Ocean

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Federal Election: Blogging Mission Statement

So the next federal election will take place on January 23rd, 2006.

The way I see it, the influence of the federal government is a function of two things1:
1) What policies are advocated by political parties
2) Which political party holds power

(Over)Simplifying even further, we can classify 1) as the non-partisan battleground of ideas and 2) as the partisan battleground of party politics. A blog like Dave Pollard's 'How to Save the World' which comments almost entirely on ideas and rarely mentions politics could be considered a fairly pure example of 1) while a blog like Calgary Grit which rarely mentions any policy issues, instead focussing on who said what and how it might affect them in the polls, is an example of a fairly pure form of 2). Most political/policy blogs fall somewhere in between the two extremes.

Sometimes the word 'partisan' is used in a perjorative sense, probably because supporters of a political party are continually forced into a 'does-the-end-justify-the-means' calculation in which tactics which might benefit their party even though they hurt the country are considered because the benefit to the country from having their party get elected is deemed (by party supporters) to outweigh the harm of the tactic in question. More cynically, people are also sometimes seen as seeking merely personal gain by supporting a party rather than seeking what is best for the country. This is no doubt true in some cases, but I think that, thankfully, it is not all that common in Canada.

Having said all that, I think that both non-partisan and partisan discussion have their place in a healthy democracy, but personally, I think we place too much the emphasis on party politics at the expense of thinking about which policies are best, and this is especially true during an election campaign. So I'm going to try and focus on the actual issues for this campaign, not because there is no place for partisan, strategic politics, but because I think that place is pretty full and I hate crowds.

Getting back to 1), most parties adopt policies which they feel are a mix of what should be done for the good of the country and what will be popular and help them win the election. Generally, the ratio of the former to the latter is inversely proportional to the % of the vote that the party normally receives.

My objective for the campaign is two-fold. One, to try and bring what's good for the country in line with what is popular. Second, to identify which party's platform is most in line with what is good for the country. To accomplish these goals2, what I want to look at is: What are the most important federal policy issues we face? What decisions fall within the scope of federal government and will really have a significant impact on the lives on Canadians and people around the world, now and in the future?

Once the key issues have been identified, I'll try to identify which courses of action, which policy choices, yield the greatest / most certain benefit. Then I'll tie it back to 2) by looking at what the parties are advocating on the key issues. Are the best policy options being proposed by anyone? Who is on the right track? Are people offering counter-productive policies?

So, over to you readers, what do you think are the most important federal issues, and (optionally) why? I have some ideas (regular readers can probably guess most of these) but I'll talk about those next post (in this series).

1 Obviously, I'm vastly oversimplifying things here, but for the purposes of this post, let's just ignore all the complicating factors.

2Yes, I am aware that the likelihood of my having any impact on anything requires an electron microscope to be differentiated from zero (hence the self-mocking post-title) but better to have blogged and lost than never to have blogged at all, and all that...


  • Declan-

    If you want lots of comments you'll need to simplify a lot more. Think? Us? Dude, this is the blogosphere :)

    By Blogger KevinG, at 9:36 AM  

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