Thursday, February 22, 2007

On good government

Two former PMs weigh in on their view of the harmful disconnect between Canadian citizens and their government. Ex-PM #1:
There is, says (ex-PM #1), “conventional unwisdom” that government is no longer important to people's lives, that so much of what is happening is out of the control of governments...

(Ex-PM #1) believes that the Reform movement began an anti-politician sentiment that has carried on long after Reform became Alliance and, ultimately, a partner in the governing Conservatives.

“What we have had in Canada,” (ex-PM #1) believes, “is a whole political movement ... that came to office basically denigrating the whole political process...
Ex-PM #2:
There was a time, (ex-PM #2) adds, where the general “assumption was that government was good. Now, almost the opposite applies. If a government proposes something, that generates suspicion about it. That's not a generational factor; that's a broad phenomenon. It's societal.”...

All four ex-leaders worry about this increasing disconnect between government and governed.

“The culture has changed,” says (ex-PM #2). “And we grew up in a culture before the change.”

(Ex-PM #2) says the world has shifted from a general “assumption that government was good” to an assumption that all politicians are merely “opportunistic.” This, (ex-PM #2) says, “is a bad phenomenon.

“Clearly, the organization of government, of Parliament, leaves less and less latitude, less and less capacity to make much of a difference.”
Meanwhile, the government which supposedly follows in the lineage of these same two leaders plans to pursue a majority based on slashing the federal government's revenues, surrendering substantive policy development to the provinces to the extent it's allowed at all, and engaging in crude attacks on its competitors.

Which leads to this question: is public disengagement the cause of the current governing philosophy (which differs only in ideology from that of the previous Lib regime), or is it the other way around?

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