Archive for May, 2009

The art of the possible

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

The art of the possible
By Ken Waddell
The PC Manitoba party held their annual Spring Leader’s Dinner last week. It was a big deal in that more than 600 people attended. Held in the Fairmont Hotel in downtown Winnipeg, the venue was cool, the food excellent and the evening was, well, political. That’s what a political party does, it’s called politics.
Generally held in disdain, or even contempt by some people, politics is a necessary ingredient in our society. It’s as necessary as a business system, a government system and a charitable system. In fact the four are intertwined.
Some people don’t like politics, some don’t like business, government or charity. But take any one out of our society and you have anarchy. I don’t know anybody who likes anarchy. The odd drug lord might. But if a drug lord is to survive, even he doesn’t work in anarchy, but in a very controlled heavy handed environment.
But back to politics. Big dinners mean big speakers and this year’s speaker was Andrew Coyne, editor of Maclean’s magazine. Coyne is regarded by some as a conservative but he doesn’t cling to any particular party line. Some of the things he said brought applause but some of the things he said brought mainly silence with only a polite smattering of applause.
That’s because like all good speakers, Coyne challenged his audience. The PC Manitoba party chose Coyne on purpose. A political party needs to be challenged. It’s not enough to say that I’m a conservative, period. Whatever the political stripe, we must, or at least should, be able to say what we stand for. I personally don’t have a problem with that, this column you are presently reading represents one of well over a thousand that have appeared in my newspapers.
However political parties become wedged into a rut. They tend to have clear policy when they start. The Mulroney conservatives did and they won big. At the end, the public could only see Mulroney. That may have been part of a plan but it was a bad one. In Manitoba, the PC Manitoba party became all Filmon, not in reality but in perception. It didn’t last. Gary Filmon could have been premier until this day but his time ran out. It partly ran out because the party started to believe he wasn’t just the leader but the Saviour. That was the party’s fault, not Gary Filmon’s fault by the way
In Manitoba today we have an extreme case of a party losing it’s identity and using one person to represent and speak for everything the party does. After 20 years as leader of the Manitoba NDP party Gary Doer is the NDP party. Every campaign sign is Gary Doer. It’s strange to drive down a street and see an NDP woman candidate’s name and then glance up and see Gary Doer’s picture above the name. Kinda weird actually. It’s as if no candidate can win without the NDP party faithful being reminded who really controls the party.
The PC Manitoba party held a couple of neat event at the banquet. One was a tribute to former MLAs including Gary Filmon.
Another neat thing was 100 year old Mr. Timmerman of Winnipeg who was invited up on stage and recognized for being a strong conservative but more importantly for having recently won the world gold medal event for swimming in the 100-104 year age group. He also spoke well, encouraging people to stay active, and of course, to vote conservative. His son, Don Timmerman is a constituency president.
So we need business, we need charitable works, we need government, and, oh yes, we need politics. Politics by the way is defined as the art of the possible. Just imagine what would happen if we believed that


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