As expressed in my last column, it has been difficult over the past year to work with the current federal Conservative majority government.
Internationally, Canada has continued its obstructionist policies by withdrawing from the Kyoto Accord, taking no lead role to address climate change. Instead, our federal government has accused Canadians with environmental concerns over the mega Enbridge pipeline project and oil tankers of being part of “radical groups” and under “foreign” influence. At the same time, the Harper Conservatives and oil companies have lobbied the Americans to allow the completion of the Keystone pipeline to transport even more unprocessed bitumen from the Alberta tar sands.
Canada has also continued its unbalanced support of Israel in the Middle East conflict, instead of working to broker a long-lasting peace.
As well, the Conservatives are committed to spend billions on F-35 stealth bombers, without a transparent, competitive bidding process, and for the primary purpose of first-strike capability, not protection of our sovereign territory.
Under the new configuration of Parliament, when the vote comes, the Conservative majority has the final say, despite having only 29 per cent of the eligible vote in Canada. We need to change our antiquated system where such an elected government has an absolute majority to do whatever it pleases. (Look for the Conservatives to solidify their position even more in the coming years with federal electoral boundary changes).
On top of this, we have a Senate stacked with the Prime Minister’s political appointees that rubber stamp anything he tells them to do; not great for the democratic process.
It is my sincere hope that a fair system of proportional representation will continue to be one of the key elements of the federal NDP, and that our new leader will make it his/her priority. It would be a very healthy step in the development of our democracy to have a Parliament made up of a number of political parties that actually have to work together and reach compromises for the benefit of all Canadians. Let’s try to make this happen, and not give up hope!
I would like to wish everyone all the best in 2012. I look forward to working with constituents to advance their issues.
By Alex Atamanenko, MP , BC Southern Interior