Point of Order – Rejecting Partisan Politics in Canada by Stéphane Groulx – December 22, 2012

stephane groulxCFN – The first time I was introduced to the world of partisan politics was in 2008. It was during the federal election and I had been referred to a friend of my grandmother’s who was in the Liberal Party. They had been looking for volunteers to work on Denis Sabourin’s campaign in SD&SG. At the time, I was a young and impressionable high school student who needed to meet the 40-hour volunteer hour mandate placed upon me in order to graduate, so I agreed to helping out.

While the campaign was ultimately unsuccessful and current Conservative incumbent Guy Lauzon won the seat, the experience of working on a political campaign enthralled me, and awoke what would become a passion for politics and the political process here in Canada. From there on, I began to inform myself of the issues. While many of my high school colleagues at the time were interesting themselves in what teenagers are usually expected to, I was paying close attention to the issues of the day and researching various ideologies and Canadian political parties.

In 2009 during the time Prime Minister Stephen Harper prorogued Parliament in order to avoid a vote of non-confidence, I got swept up in the proposed cooperation of the Liberals and NDP. I became a supporter of the Liberal-NDP coalition, and while it may have failed, by the time Michael Ignatieff ascended to the leadership of the Liberal party, I was turned off and set my focus elsewhere, specifically to the fourth party; the NDP.  I began looking into democratic socialist and socially democratic principles, and while I came to the conclusion I wasn’t a bleeding heart socialist, I was nonetheless impressed with what I saw.  At the time I felt many of their ideals were wondrous and commendable.

I did not however, take up membership until two years later. It was January 2011 and Jack Layton had urged supporters to take up membership as yet another vote of non-confidence was looming. Eventually, an election was called in April and I contacted the local riding association, I wanted to get involved. It was quite the experience, the riding association welcomed me with open arms and I’ll never forget the experience I gained on account of it. I campaigned alongside the local candidate and even had the opportunity to attend some events with him. Election night was profound and bitter-sweet night at the campaign office as the party’s breakthrough in Québec was great. It gave me hope, but of course, the Conservative majority government was disappointing .  A few months later, I had the opportunity to once again participate in a political campaign, this time with Elaine MacDonald during the Ontario provincial election.

During the past 2 years however, while I may have been a partisan I have been going through an ongoing internal battle; reconciling my views with those of the party.  I have a hard time touting the party line, especially with issues which I do not agree with. Within the party itself, I aligned myself with the more moderate side, and that is why in the spring of 2012 I became an early supporter of Thomas Mulcair’s leadership bid. I liked his message of moderation and his support of moving the party away from its ideological traditional base. At the time, I also thought he was the best suited for the job and even went so far as to write an endorsement of him explaining my reasoning.

My time as a political partisan though, at least for now, is over. I am tired of reconciling my personal views with those of a party, and the trend of partisan polarization, as well as framing issues within a false left-right dichotomy has left me dissatisfied with the current political landscape.

I have come to the decision that I will not be renewing my membership with the NDP this coming year. For some, this may not come as a surprise given my constant self-identification as a principled moderate and civil libertarian, as well as my noted absence at various partisan events these last few months. If an election were held tomorrow, I would probably still be inclined to vote for the NDP, but my vote needs to be earned, it will not simply be given. I have a personal check list of principles which I hold dear, and I will be evaluating each party individually from now on.

I am happy to have interacted with the majority of New Democrats I have come across these last two years, and I ask that they respect my decision, and that we may continue to have both intelligent and meaningful conversation going forward.

It is my opinion, that the Canadian electorate should emphasize cooperation and compromise above self-interest and ideological dogma. Political parties ought to seek common ground  and work together instead of demonizing one and other.

If the Liberals, Greens, and NDP could come together and form a “purple coalition” in a similar fashion some parties do in Europe, we could get a lot done. Forget about the divisions, and have that coalition focus on the issues which they have similar positions on. There will be some issues that would require compromise, but nonetheless it is my view that an NDP-Liberal coalition would be better than another Conservative majority. We need less partisanship and more compromise for the sake of Canadian families. Why is it that political parties in the Netherlands, Britain, and other European countries can put aside their ideological differences and compromise, yet we here in Canada cannot? It is sickening.

In the Netherlands, the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (conservative-liberalism) and the Labor party (social democracy) have been able to set aside their ideological difference and work together, and I subscribe to the notion that we can too.

An NDP/Liberal/Green coalition could compromise on:
– electoral reform
– environmental standards
– lowering small business tax
– an employee retention credit for small & medium businesses
– legalization (tax and regulation) of marijuana
– raising corporate tax on big business
– renewable energy
– education policy (providing more loans and grants to students)
– renew focus on humanitarian aid and peacekeeping
– acceleration of free-trade agreements with allied countries
– overturn many of the omnibus crime legislation
– decentralization of the PMO
– countermeasures against electoral fraud
– re-establishment of parliamentary decorum during Q.P.
– pension reform
– aboriginal affairs
– etc

The opposition parties are all allies against the Conservative government. I refuse to think that they cannot put aside their ideological differences and work together for the sake of advancing progressive policies and bettering the lives of Canadian families.

Born and raised in Cornwall, Ontario, Stéphane is a principled moderate as well as a student at the University of Ottawa. He is avidly passionate about politics, policy-making, as well as getting youth involved in the democratic process.

Stéphane also loves to observe and explore his surroundings, take part in rational discussion, learn new things, write, and meet new people.


If you wish to contact or sponsor Mr. Groulx email us at info@cornwallfreenews.com or call our hotline at 613 361 1755 

Best Western Cornwall


  1. The main difference between Canada and the European countries is that we have an electoral system that does not allow for cooperation. Working together is something that happens when there is a possibility of doing so. In Canada, we have majority governments–almost unheard of across the pond. Opposition parties can work together because by doing so, they can take power without an election (provided they are in a parliamentary system).

    Canada’s “First-Past-the-Post” system of elections means that parties can take over 50% of the seats in the House without having 50% of the popular vote; and when they do have 50% of the popular vote, they can take nearly all of the seats in the House. Until we have any sort of meaningful electoral reform, we’re not going to see any cooperation because parties won’t want to or need to so long as there is the possibility of governing on their own.

    Moreover, Canada has a markedly different culture from European countries. Party discipline in Canada is perhaps among the strongest in the world: everyone is expected to tow the party line, no questions. This has caused further entrenchment of partisanship, and a mistrust between the parties. As a New Democrat, I have serious mistrust of the Liberals. Were I a Liberal, I would have serious mistrust of the Conservatives and the Dippers. Were I a Tory, I would not like very much at all to cooperate with the Liberals. (And so on, for all the other parties). This is part of our politics and part of our culture. It’s not something that is overcome by asking for a “purple coalition”. This is the product of a hundred years of Canadian history, and doesn’t change quickly.

    There have been some novel proposals for overcoming this, especially Nathan Cullen’s “Joint Nominations” proposal. But there are numerous practical problems with this, as Pundits’ Guide pointed out (I’m of the impression that I can’t link you, so check out her web site), and I have a few principled concerns (i. e. Is limiting the number of candidates good for the political discourse, etc. ?) that I won’t list here for fear of droning on for too long.

    A number of the things you’d like a “purple coalition” to focus on are a bit vague, but seem to be mostly typical left-wing/centre-left policies. (The PMO decentralisation idea is perhaps wishful thinking at this point, though). At this point, I might raise on objection as to how left-wing the Liberals or the Greens are, but I fear this is my own partisanship speaking. Nonetheless, as I said before, I have a huge mistrust of different parties (especially the Liberals. I swear, the next time I hear “strategic voting” I’m going to punch a wall).

    It’s fine to ask for cooperation among parties–hell, even they’ve been giving lip service to that. But until there is a meaningful plan of action to achieve this, that’s all it’ll ever be: lip service. The solution comes from, among other things, electoral reform. But that’s a fight in and of itself; in short, I don’t expect that we can simply wish away our political problems–Santa Claus can’t bring me MMP. A principled stance will only ever be posturing.

    Despite my concerns and objections, this was a well-written and thoughtful article–something I feel we lack in most editorial/commentary sections. Keep up the good work, Stéphane!

    In solidarity,


  2. Why are we forced to accept the political choices of others and relinquish our own choice? If the majority desires to be atheist, should all individuals adhere to atheist policies until the next general community decision?

    I also support civil libertarian principles and have in fact presented myself as a political candidate for the Libertarian Party. I desire to live under a libertarian based government but must reluctantly accept to live under a government structure chosen by other people. Since the majority desires to accept a dirigiste government, we all must adhere to fascist government policies until the next community decision. Our civil libertarian principles and liberties must be infringed upon in order to abide by the choices of dirigiste government supporters. We need another governing system.

    If we all could accept to live under a Panarchy, we could choose our preferred government instead of just political parties.


  3. Bravo, Stéphane, very refreshing. The most balanced piece of political writing in Canada that I have read in a long while. All the best in your studies.

  4. The very idea that political parties are required at all irks me. Our system of governance has been hyjacked by the “parties”, making it almost impossible for a person to seek any provincial or federal office without belonging to one of the “parties”. Democracy has suffered the ultimate blow when an individual cannot seek office simply by espousing his, or her, own personal beliefs, ideas and reasons for wishing to represent their fellow citizens. Political “parties” have bastardized democracy, and opened goverments to corruption, innaction and greed. I say ban the political “party”, ban television advertising in elections and begin sending real citizens to represent all citizens. It works just fine at the municipal level, why could it not, at the provincial and federal level?

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