In the Chamber -- Grant Mitchell's Blog


Posted 11/24/2008 by Grant Mitchell


Friday I spoke to a wonderful group of elementary and junior high school students about government and the political process. It struck me during that time that I had to be sure to be non-partisan – read political – and I was. However, it made me think about how sensitive we have become about being partisan, as though partisanship is inherently negative. It is particularly an issue often amongst Senators who are very concerned with not becoming overly partisan in our deliberations.

Of course what is partisan is subjective. In Alberta, ironically, it seems that if you express a conservative position somehow that is not partisan, but if you disagree with the Conservatives that is partisan. At the same time, we always hear calls from the press and others for public debate on issues that matter to Canadians.

Well, what is debate if it is not partisan? I suppose some would think it not partisan if it did not conform to some party’s position, but then are we saying parties cannot take positions. 

As I thought about this, it came to me that the logical extension of non-partisanship would be a place like Russia where they have only one party. No partisanship there. Partisanship is the essence of public debate in a democracy. If you want non-partisanship in debate, then debate would be pretty much neutered.

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