Progress. What would the world be like without it? A static society is likely impossible, but an examination of Canadian politics and the idea is a little too close to reality.
Small things do change, like the Liberal Party (read: the only appealing party across the country and shoe-in for the next federal election) which will hold a leadership convention later this year. Changes are bound to occur--like the leader's name.
Despite the thought that Paul Martin will alter some important foreign policies, I fail to be swept away by the excitement at the promise of his succession as Prime Minister due to the lack of reform in his platform. The Liberal dynasty will no doubt survive and will remain relatively unchanged. The government, complete with an outdated constitution and career politicians, will not step toward modernization. The senate will remain as is, health care will be fought over, the Governor General will sit pretty, funded by tax-payers' dollars, and party solidarity will prevent regional justice.
Progress might as well be a four-letter word.
The unfortunate truth of the matter is this: The Liberal Party of Canada is as conservative as a group of sixteenth-century French peasants. Peasants afraid of progress, of major change, believing their survival depended on maintaining the status quo. The peasants' concerns lay in the possibility change could minimize what little success they were already finding in an unstable life of subsistence.
On the other hand, the Liberals fear nothing, even if their next election vote-harvest decreases. In fact, Liberal ridings will continues to vote Liberal despite policy changes--or lack thereof--simply because the alternatives (the Canadian Alliance and the Progressive Conservatives), are an unappealing option to the majority of Canadians.
So why not advocate reforms essential to progress of the nation in such a low-risk period? There are important changes at hand if Canada's political problems are to be mended.
These problems lie in the decline of democracy in Canada. Democratically, all Canadians with a view on the country's future leadership should attend the Liberal convention next November. Actually, just join the Liberals. Their uncontested national rule can't be affected by non-party members, so why waste time and money lobbying the Alliance with your concerns?
Another flaw in the country's democratic process is party discipline. "Responsible government" shouldn't be a phrase used to describe a system in which "representatives" vote in blocks when they are told to regardless of their constituents' opinions. Ministers should be at the mercy of Canadians, not the other way around. It is a job that should strive for progress to better the country, not strive for status quo to better the chance of political longevity.
A third issue is the system of checks and balances no non-incumbent politician can influence. Only the ruling elite can appoint Senators and the Governor General, ineffective positions consuming tax dollars for the purpose of letting that same ruling elite stock the check and balance system with members of their fan club. A "triple-E" senate has gained wide support, even in Parliament, so why hasn't it happened?
Simple, because older politicians like Chretien and Martin depend on the upper house to be docile and easily manipulated. Martin ignores the possibility regionally-chosen senators would better represent certain regions, like the West.
Younger men, like John Manley, support Senate reform, probably because they haven't been in government as long as Martin. They have little to lose by taking big steps, and they have not grown impatient yet for their chance to govern the country. If young leaders take risks, there is still time for them to mend fences and have a successful career.
This is Martin's last chance, and he won't risk it with crazy talk of reform. This is why he is an unsuitable leader for this country, which desperately needs to spend the next five years progressing, not sitting idle while Martin has his turn playing Prime Minister.
Despite changes that must be made for Canada to refine its world status as a modern democracy, there is no one to put them into action. Martin opposes reform due to the possibility of losing popularity, but alas, he is the heir to the throne.
Progress? Not in this decade. Long live the king.