Monday, February 18, 2013

Is there a more fervent enthusiast than a recent convert?

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.

1 comment:

  1. It's like watching Harper talk about China. He used to criticize any trade with China now he is the biggest booster on the bandwagon. Politicians change to get on board with ideas that have popular support.

    I remember Harper ripping Paul Martin a new earhole over income trusts. Martin and the Liberals "would destroy Alberta" if energy companies could not have income trusts. Harper came to power and within a few months ended income trusts.

    Harper used to favour free votes, protection of gay marriage and a host of other issues that he has "revised" his position to align with Chretien Liberals. Go figure.

    I agree with you. Politicians of all stripes flip flop depending on whose ox is being gored.