Political parties around the world define themselves based on their unique worldview of social, economic, and political aspects of the society. The elaborate ideological formation then plays a key role in drawing support from the masses and ultimately defining the direction of a country. As a multiparty democracy, Canada has parties representing all sides of the political spectrum. The coexistence of different political ideologies has created an interesting democratic experience which has enabled the critique of the major political philosophies. This paper will, therefore, explore the political sphere in Canada with the aim of analyzing liberalism, conservatism, and socialism. The analysis will enhance the understanding of not only the various political ideologies but also how parties in Canada apply them. The paper will analyze and compare the principles statements of the New Democratic Party and the Conservative Party. The New Democrat Claims that will be analyzed are as follows:
1. “The government should help create the conditions for sustainable prosperity and the government has the power to address the limitations of the market in addressing the common good hence ensuring social and economic justice, and for the integrity of the environment.”
2. “The party celebrates Canada’s diversity and the deep histories, traditions, and aspirations of all of its peoples. New Democrats believe in an intercultural integration model based on solidarity and harmonious exchanges among individuals of differing cultures.”
The Conservative Party’s claims, on the other hand, are as follows:
1. “A responsible government must be fiscally prudent and should be limited to those responsibilities which cannot be discharged reasonably by the individual or others…... it is the responsibility of individuals to provide for themselves, their families, and their dependents, while recognizing that government must respond to those who require assistance and compassion.”
2. “To build a national coalition of people who share conservative beliefs and who reflect the regional, cultural, and socio-economic diversity of Canada... the goal of developing this coalition is embracing our differences and respecting our traditions yet honoring a concept of Canada as the greater sum of strong parts.”
The New Democratic Party of Canada
The first claim by the New Democratic Party’s statement is that “the government should help create the conditions for sustainable prosperity and the government has the power to address the limitations of the market in addressing the common good hence ensuring social and economic justice, and for the integrity of the environment.” The statement highlights commitment to the society by prioritizing it in matters concerning economic policy. New Democrats view the society as an important contributor to the economic machine hence elevating its role in policy formulation. Socialists concede that the economy is a fluid network which does not always works to benefit the larger society. This necessitates the involvement of a third party to influence interactions in the market. The government plays a big role in the party achieving its vision since its corrective policies would decrease inequalities in wealth distribution.
The party’s claim confirms its socialist foundation. Any policies formulated by the party would, therefore, aim to ensure the collective well-being. Socialists believe that individuals are inherently social beings. To fulfill the potential as human beings, individuals must live and work with others. The logic justifies the substantive totality principle that is the core of socialist ideology. New Democrats would, therefore, prefer to see the society prosper holistically rather than a few influential individuals controlling the economy.
The New Democratic Party advances the belief in the primacy of the society by pushing for equality. Socialism emphasizes that humans are born free and equal which means that both aspects are founded in nature. While liberals believe that this principle is abstract, socialists argue that it is real and should be pursued. The goal is to ensure that liberty and equality are part of individual life in both social and economic aspects. New Democrats seek to achieve this goal by using the government. The authorities would use their influence to lobby the formulation and implementation of socially conscious policies. The achievement of liberty and equality in the society would ensure the development of not only the individual but also the society. This viewpoint differs significantly with what liberalism advocates. In the case of liberalism, liberty and equality are abstract principles that represent the ideal situation rather than practical ones. This major distinction makes socialism an endearing philosophy since it has both a vision and a mission to achieve its objectives.
New Democrats face a tough task to actualize concepts such as the equitable appropriation of resources. A lot of decision-making is involved, and it must be done prudently. To deal with this conundrum, socialists emphasize the importance of human reason. Unlike in liberalism where reason is reduced to individuals use, socialism seeks to broaden the scope of reason to the larger society. The result is a society organized by rational principles. This viewpoint infiltrates the practical aspects of management, planning, and administration. The result is the formulation of social and economic policies that address the common good. The political ideology adopted by the New Democrats is markedly different from what other political parties advocate. The prosperity of the individual, which is a key principle of both conservatism and liberalism, is shunned by socialists. The selfless thinking that is highlighted in the equality and government intervention principle makes socialism a fresh player in the political sphere.
The second claim by the New Democrats is that the party “celebrates Canada’s diversity and the deep histories, traditions, and aspirations of all of its peoples. New Democrats believe in an intercultural integration model based on solidarity and harmonious exchanges among individuals of differing cultures.” This statement underscores the importance of homogeneity in socialism. The stance is not a denial of diversity and the inherent differences that accompany it. Instead, it encourages the sharing of values and experiences between different members of the society in a bid to create a structure that appeals to everyone. The creation of a diverse and harmonious society will help the individual realize his or her potential in the long-run.
The belief in intercultural integration demonstrates the New Democrats’ pursuit of real liberty and real equality. The founding principle, in this case, is humans are born free and equal. Socialism stays true to this rationale by seeking to achieve and maintain the state which is perceived as nature’s ultimate goal. The practical implication of this viewpoint is that everybody in the society is equal despite their cultural background. A New Democrat government would, therefore, formulate and implement public policies that are tolerant to diversity and look to integrate the different groups into the national fabric. The belief in equality applies not only to the social dimension but also to the economic dimension. Application in the latter rejects the idea of the individual appropriation of private property. Historically disadvantaged groups would, as a result, receive more consideration aimed at eliminating all forms of exploitation and domination.
The Conservative Party of Canada
The first claim of the Conservative Party of Canada is “the belief that a responsible government must be fiscally prudent and should be limited to those responsibilities which cannot be discharged reasonably by the individual or others…... it is the responsibility of individuals to provide for themselves, their families, and their dependents, while recognizing that government must respond to those who require assistance and compassion.” The statement highlights the party’s preference for individual action and prosperity. This differs from the socialist principle of the importance of the society. Everyone is expected to play their role in the society without any external intervention. While it may seem harsh, it concurs with traditional values and in essence the conservative ideology.
Conservatives take a broader perspective regarding the nature of human life. The stance defines the human world and the physical world as part of a universe with a predetermined fate. The nature of the universe is hierarchical with a Supreme Being as the apex. The universe is therefore obliged to accept the Supreme Being’s disposition and the unpredictability that accompanies it. This principle highlights the belief in a universal order where everyone has their place in the hierarchy. The view is in contrast to socialist ideology which seeks to eradicate social class and create a homogenous society. Conservatives believe that the society should be organized in a hierarchy based on values and merit. It mirrors the universal order of things and would give every individual a chance to pursue their lawful self-interest within a competitive economy.
According to conservative thought, an ideal society must not only reproduce but also realize universal order. The considerable task necessitates the creation of a hierarchical structure: the government. Conservatives believe that the government’s main responsibility is to maintain peace and stability in the society. The view opposes the socialist perspective where the government is responsible for not only ensuring social stability but also addressing economic limitations to promote the public interest. The rationale behind promoting peace and stability is to allow individual development so that humans can achieve their potential and lead fulfilled lives. This point of view is also in direct contrast with socialist propositions which advocate the primacy of society.
The second claim of the Conservative Party is that its goal is “to build a national coalition of people who share conservative beliefs and who reflect the regional, cultural, and socio-economic diversity of Canada... the goal of developing this coalition is embracing our differences and respecting our traditions yet honoring a concept of Canada as the greater sum of strong parts.” This principle is based on the conservative proposition on the universal order of things. The hierarchy observed in nature is translated into human relationships and to a larger extent, the society. Accordingly, the society is organized by a hierarchy. While the Conservative Party insists that all Canadians are equal in its statement, the practical translation of the statement differs from what is observed in socialism. Rather than pursuing homogeneity, conservatives appreciate the existence of different social groups in the society. Public policies would, therefore, seek to address the needs of the different social groups without subjecting them to a generic approach.
Promoting diversity within the society has its limitations, according to conservatives. The drawbacks include sectionalism and overall disunity. However, conservatives realize that the success of a society is highly dependent on unity. This impasse is countered by promoting natural institutions of the society such as the family, the Church, and the Monarchy. These establishments ensure unity within a society in addition to instilling traditional values which conservatives view as necessary for a functional society.
Comparison of Ideological Claims in the Party Statements
The New Democrats and the Conservatives of Canada represent different sides of the political spectrum hence providing solid ground for comparison. The theme of the government’s role is prevalent in the first claims of both parties. While the New Democrats favor government intervention in social and economic matters, the Conservative Party prefers limited government. The former would ensure the eradication of inequalities in the society since all policies would seek to promote the public interest. The latter limits the government’s role to issues which the individual cannot handle efficiently. The difference between the two ideologies is a testament to the difference in the founding principles of socialism and conservatism. The collective is of more importance than the individual in socialism while the reverse is true for conservatism.
The second claims of the two political establishments explore equality and diversity. A prominent similarity, in this case, is the appreciation of equality in the society. However, the practical implementation of equality differs significantly. New Democrats believe in intercultural integration whose ultimate goal is to achieve the equality of all citizens. On the other hand, the Conservative Party embraces the differences while still promoting the concept of a superior national culture. Consequently, the concept of a hierarchical society persists in the Conservative Party ideology while New Democrats push for a classless society.
The Ideological Coherence of the Party Statements
The essence of any party statement is to clarify the establishment’s position on the political spectrum and how it hopes to transform the society. The basis of the New Democratic Party’s statement is socialism. The tenets of the ideology are prevalent throughout the statement. The insistence on equality, justice, and opportunity shows the party has maintained the optimistic perspective that is characteristic of socialism. The belief in diversity and the role of government in achieving social and economic justice also demonstrates that the New Democratic Party has maintained the socialist ideal that the society should be prioritized. The Conservative Party also strives to maintain ideals of conservatism in its statement. Issues such as limited government and a belief in natural institutions such as the constitutional monarchy demonstrate the insistence on conservatism. A peculiar omission from the statement, however, is the universal order dictated by a Supreme Being. Even though this is a prevalent theme in conservative ideology, the Conservative Party of Canada does not review it. Instead, the party opts to promote diversity which encourages different views. This inconsistency is a testament to the evolution of conservatism in the modern world. While its core principles remain, there is an increased acceptance of divergent views.