The most important role of political parties, the text book tells us, is “the aggregation of interests.” In other words, people with similar interests join together in a party to advance a single set of demands. That party in turn competes for popular support against parties with conflicting demands.
Knowing what a political party stands for helps to make democracy easier for the user (er, that’s us). Makes perfect sense, right?
Where this all breaks down is Canada’s erratic and hallucinatory Liberal Party.
The latest case is Keith Martin, the MP who is demanding the gutting of Canada’s hate laws. “Hold on,” you say, “isn’t the Liberal Party the party of diversity, multiculturalism and respect for human rights?” Sure it is. But it’s also now the party of hate groups.
This is not new. In an attempt to be all things to all people all the time, the Liberal Party has taken the aggregation of interests to the bizarre end of the aggregation of opposite interests.
For another example, if you want the Afghanistan mission to end, there are Liberal MPs for that. But if you want it to go on indefinitely, there are Liberal MPs for that too.
And if you are in favour of public health care, there are Liberal MPs for that. But if you want private delivery, there are Liberal MPs for that too.
It is now to the point that you can expect to find no greater unity of opinion on any issue in the Liberal Party of Canada than you would on a city bus. The difference is, at least the people on the bus know where they are headed.