03 December 2008

A Letter to the Leaders of the Four Federal Political Parties

[This letter accompanies a copy of my letter to the Governor General]

To Messrs. Dion, Layton, Duceppe, and Harper,

I am forwarding you a letter that I wrote to Her Excellency, the Governor General of Canada, concerning the current parliamentary situation. As I suggest in the letter, the time now is not for a coalition of power, but a collaboration of ideas and diverse contexts. Mr. Harper, your actions of late indicate that you are unwilling to live up to your election night pledge, in which you said, "This is a time for us all to put aside political differences and partisan considerations and to work cooperatively for the benefit of Canada. We have shown that minority government can work, and at this time of global economic instability we owe it to Canadians to demonstrate this once again."

Specifically, Mr. Harper, your Finance Minister's Fiscal Update, and the subsequent backpedalling, suggest that your interest is solely in retaining power, and not listening to the overwhelming majority of Canadians that did not put their trust in your leadership or policies. You had a chance to engage with other parties, to collaborate in the way Barack Obama is demonstrating in the U.S., and truly live up to what we now know was a fictional image shown during the election campaign. Such behaviour is beneath a man of your intelligence, and avowed love and care for this country and all Canadians. Please do not further damage your image or your legacy by living down to the low expectations of those who would call you "coward" for being unwilling to face the House in a timely fashion.

To the leaders of the putative coalition: I encourage you not to back down on forming a collaborative government via a coalition (please pay close attention to that wording - collaborative government). Equally, however, I encourage you to extend an olive branch to Mr. Harper, to enable his active participation in developing the economic strategy for this country, assuming he is willing to truly collaborate. Although the majority of Canadians mistrust both his actions and his motives, there is still a sizable minority who look up to Mr. Harper for his vision, his passion, and his principles. A true collaboration invites those who can bring diverse contexts into an environment of active and dialogic engagement. The process is far more complex than debate (or worse: the type of public grandstanding that passes for debate in the House of Commons), and takes careful listening and understanding.

Gentlemen: It is redundant and obvious to point out the unique situation in which the entire world finds itself. What seems to be less than obvious is that the approach we must all take - including every citizen of this great country - must, of necessity, be different than those attempted in the past.

Welcome to this side of the break boundary.

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