The Federal Minister of Industry James Moore recently apologized for remarks he made after a question from a reporter.
The reporter had asked him about childhood poverty in British Columbia. “It is not my job to feed my neighbour’s child”, he said initially.
Later in a statement the minister apologized noting “….that I made an insensitive remark that I deeply regret.”
Conservative political philosophy often has clear views about government intervention on a range of issues from privatizing public utilities and resources to health care, unemployment benefits, pensions and poverty.
The laissez-faire, independent spirit is often evident from the Prime Minister’s comments and those of his ministers.
Some issues though are not exclusively about efficient and effective government or balancing the federal books. Some issues are primarily moral ones, and direct us to our values, what is most important to us.
It is there, I believe, that we have to engage in serious listening and reflection. That is not always easy.
In memorializing Nelson Mandela recently, I was curious about the years before he was imprisoned, the decades of the ‘40s and ‘50s. It appears, and it is clearly worth researching further, that all kinds of attempts were made to gain a political voice in government for the disenfranchised. The litany of attempts were numerous, virtually several attempts a month in the ‘50s. The organization he was head of, the ANC, goes back further than that, of course, to 1912 , six years before Mandela was born- a lesson in long term perseverance.
Political parties are strongly invested in their histories, their policies and their attitudes towards the general public and no matter what the political stripe it is easy to become defensive or argumentative, narrow and too sharply focused.
It might take decades to change our style beyond the classic format evidenced in our parliamentary question period. But perhaps a place to start might be with our neighbours, a block at a time, in our own communities.