The recent federal Leadership debate reminded me of how fickle politicians are regarding their values and policies. All nine contenders seemed so anxious to tell us how much each favoured free trade. As someone who watched the Jean Chrétien Liberals in opposition during the Brian Mulroney-era debates over continental free trade, I couldn’t help cringing.
It all seems so cynical. While in opposition in the 1980s, the Liberals, who had traditionally favoured free trade, fought hard to turn Canada away from freer trade with the Americans, vowing not to honour its provisions if the agreement became law. The Progressive Conservatives, meantime, had made their own about-face on the issue and negotiated a deal with the United States.
The same Liberal party who in the 1980s preached doom and gloom if a free trade agreement were made with the Americans, now tells us how important it is that we ink free trade deals with all and sundry.
But, so what? Circumstances change, so why shouldn’t politicians change their minds? No reason at all. Politicians should change with the times and keep up with events.
What’s galling, though, is how they demonize opposition views, and then switch sides without a word of explanation to justify their apostasy.
There’s a lesson here for political bloggers and pundits: go easy on the hyper-partisanship for you never know when you’ll be asked to support the very position you now so ardently demonize.