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Duet in Parliament

Could the Liberal/NDP collaboration be the harmony Canada needs?

Duets were a favorite part of piano practice for me and my children. Each player is essential; the whole sound is much richer than each tune alone. Duets produce a different sound than 3-chord harmony, solos or choirs. If the new Liberal/New Democrat agreement plays as a duet, it may be a growing-up moment for Canadian democracy and a new sound of great benefit for Canada.

Much of the media coverage focuses on conspiracy or domination – that sells papers. The reality is that we are likely to see more substantive policy debate as each player sharpens its key notes to ensure its part is not lost in the whole. MPs will have to do what we pay them to do: research the best solutions instead of just banging their fists to make a lot of noise. Committee meetings could be rigorous refining of proposals, instead of partisan grandstanding and blocking any progress by another party. The public, like listeners to a duet, know the whole is better, but also value each part.

Citizen role

This moment requires citizens to practice a different politics as well – with benefits for Canadian democracy. We need to be informed and know the score of the important policy pieces playing out in parliament. We need to be on alert, recognize when to add our part, and hit the right keys. Most importantly, citizens can stop cheering the banging-on-keys approach to politics that we hear too much right now; we can refuse to join in or reward it with our donations and votes.

The Next Movement

This moment may dispel our fears that diverse voices lead to chaos. It might allow us to move beyond an adolescent need to have one player in control toward a more mature understanding of good government. It might improve the way we elect the front-line players in our parliament to add more voices and more duets instead of loud solos. We could see a shift from screaming dissonance in the House of Commons to counterpoint that ends in a more fulsome resolution.

Read Kathy’s in-depth analysis of Budget 2022.

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One Comment

  1. The political duets Kathy Vandergrift and all of us would rather hear have all the promissory high notes,, but unfortunately such music leaves out the more somber and sobering bass notes that ask what a Dutch ditty I recall asks, “Wie zal dat betaalen . . . . ” (excuse the spelling, translation for those not raised on great cheese, “Who is going to pay for it all”). Seriously, the country is already saddled with a monumental debt, and the economic outlook is not great. Those who want the government to
    to pay for more and more wonderful programs should get a reality check which includes affordability
    and sustainability.
    Ed Grootenboer

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