The current state of Canadian national unity is concerning but is overtly magnified by political parties inability to accept any level of national compromise.
If you tune into national news at the moment, you will undoubtedly here about how Canada is more polarized than it has ever been. That may be true, but the only thing that prevents unity at the moment is a complete and utter resistance by all parties to compromise.
Why is this? Well, compromise ultimately means everyone loses a bit and it is impossible for party communications, who in the social media age control their parties to a great extent, to spin losing to their base. The current machinations of party politics have essentially led to immovable and unreasonable factions that fail to settle for common good.
What this refusal to accept any level conciliation means is that the other half of compromise is obscured — you know the part where everyone wins a little and we continue to have a functioning and welcoming society.
Canada is a confederation of distinct, unique and valuable voices expressing legitimate concerns for the future of this country. Indeed, it is on the representatives of Quebec, Ontario, Alberta and everywhere else to voice the struggles of their constituents.
Reasonable people understand that politics is, indeed, the art of compromise and that winning every single political argument is a pipe dream that is only dared spouted by demagogues who believe that power, and not compromise, is the ultimate goal.
Albertans have concerns that need to be listened to; Ontarians have concerns that effect the rest of the county; and Quebecois have unique viewpoints that are valuable in a national conversation. Indeed, Canada is founded on the principle that diverse and unique voices can find common ground based on the principles of freedom and fairness and it is important that Canadians don’t lose sight of the intrinsic value of all of their neighbors.
The federal election and most particularly the statement made by Alberta and Saskatchewan uniformly voting Conservative has assuredly cast light on the concerns many western Canadians have about the current state of federal politics, in particular the governments handling of the energy sector. It also showed that over 50 per cent over Canadians voted for parties who have significant concerns regarding climate change. These positions seem completely diametrically opposed, but it must be remembered that confederation is a constantly fluid agreement between regions and that agreement is predicated on the good faith shared between Canadians.
It is important for western politicians to continue to advocate for their constituents and it is most certainly important that Ottawa listens, but compromise is a two-way street.
To maintain the unity of this great country, it is important for Liberal, Conservative, NDP and every other party to recognize that a compromise will not be everything they desire. It is important, obviously, that no Canadian feels humiliated throughout the process of agreement, but it is also important to remember that sometimes political action is going to be something you do not agree with.
It is my hope that that future agreements between Canadians, which will be further magnified by the realities of a minority government, will be compromises that everyone can at least live with.
Political compromise isn’t perfect, but it is far better than the politics of absolutism, obstructionism and demagoguery.