There’s an interesting feature in the weekend’s Ottawa Citizen (couldn’t find it online) where they run the four major (Canadian) political parties through the political compass and see who comes out right and left. Recognizing that the simple right-left dichotomy is no longer appropriate to describe today’s complex political landscape, the political compass places respondents on an economic left-right x-axis and a social authoritarian-libertarian y-axis. The questions are very superficial and I itched for the opportunity to explain my answers but in the interest of full disclosure, I placed in the libertarian left quadrant although just a hair left of centre.
I don’t feel adequately described by my placement. I thought I was more right-wing free market to tell you the truth. But since I don’t think that big corporations are a moral absolute and only want what’s good for me, I place as left-wing. A little simplistic, wouldn’t you say?
What I found particularly interesting from our political parties’ placement — and the Citizen treatment of it — is how the Bloc, NDP and Dion Liberals placed in the libertarian left quadrant (aren’t I in good company?) along with Ghandi and the Dalai Lama; whereas the Conservatives placed smack in the middle of the social scale but definitely to the right of the economic scale… along with Georges Bush and Hitler. If my history lessons serve me well, I seem to remember that Mao Tse Tung and Pol Pot were on the left as well, and that Robert Mugabe is probably as left-wing as Ghandi. But let’s not digress: I have a graduate degree in bioethics, what do I know about politics, anyway?
Another feature of interest was the parties placing on the social libertarianism to authoritarianism scale. Of all the parties, the Conservatives placed more authoritarian than the others and the journalists to comment: “(…) [The liberals] have become even more resolutely libertarians on social issues like abortion and gay marriage.” Is that so??? Pro-life protesters are limited in what they can say and where they can say it, the Human Rights Commission is increasingly looking like some kind of thought police and efforts to reform it have been harshly criticized by those very “libertarian” parties. The previous Liberal government imposed the party line to MPs voting on Bill C-38 (gay marriage bill) and Stephen Harper was accused to be some kind of right-wing nut for “re-opening the debate” by which we mean that he allowed MPs to vote freely on the issue. We haven’t had a policy discussion on abortion in the House of Commons since Morgentaler gutted Canadian law on abortion. Gilles Duceppe kicked off the election by kicking people with religious beliefs and the Liberals believe that the government should handle arts and culture because Joe Frontporch can only be trusted to buy tickets to Canadian Idol and other American franchises. That’s saying nothing about the idea of a national childcare program to make sure that kids are trained early in whatever the government thinks they should be. And we think we are moving toward a libertarian ideal?
Am I missing something?