I have a confession to make: I am a lifelong Beach Boys' fan. Their harmonies and their idyllic representation of the West Coast lifestyle captivated me as a youth, and still have a hold on me today. One of their signature songs, and certainly one of my favorites, is Wouldn't It Be Nice. Composed by Brian Wilson, it tells the story of a hoped-for future in which young love works out, and they live 'happily ever after.' As such, of course, it bears little relation to reality.
And yet, even so many years later, I cling to the hope that things can get better, that a measure of harmony can be established in our social, economic, and political systems so that we recognize common goals and common humanity and that we work together for the greater good. Wouldn't it be nice?
Such seems to be the theme of two pieces I recently read in The Toronto Star. One, a letter from reader Tina Agrell of Oakville, makes the following observations:
In Ontario we have a chance to do something new in politics and be trendsetters for Canada.
She points out that the last Ontario election did not return a majority government:
We voted for all of those MPPs and we wanted them all to work in Parliament and represent us — expressing their different views but coming to a consensus on how to run the province.
Urging an end to the poisonous partisanship that renders the public deeply cynical, she implores our legislators to work together in the upcoming session, and ends her missive with the following indisputable truth and plea:
Ontario is faced with massive debt, economic decline and labour unrest. No political party wants to face those problems alone while fighting off other parties engaged in savagely attacking their flanks.
The only way forward is by collaborating, by working as a united team. What a role model Ontario could be for Canada if our MPPs could achieve that.
In a similar vein, Martin Regg Cohn writes today about the prospects of co-operation between Kathleen Wynne's Liberals and Andrea Horwath's NDP:
They have much in common. Both come across as authentic, progressive politicians — direct, disarming, dismissive of testosterone tactics, with longtime friends in the union movement and among NGO activists.
Yet for all their commonality, they seem reluctant to make common cause just yet — for fear of undermining their rival power bases. Liberals and New Democrats both want to change the world, they just want to remake it in their own image, on their own terms.
Ever the realist, Cohn is, at best, only guardedly optimistic about the chances, always aware that the thirst for power is the greatest impediment to collaborative government. And young Tim Hudak, Leader of the Progressive Conservatives, seems to be left out of the equation entirely:
At a news conference last week, he seemed out of step with his own rhetoric — railing repeatedly against McGuinty’s abuse prorogation as a delaying tactic, but then insisting it be left intact. Hmmm.
Will Hudak once again find himself the odd man out?
It has often been posited that having more women in positions of political power increases the chances of co-operation and collaboration. Ontario politics in the next little while will certainly be the appropriate crucible in which to test that thesis.