OUR VIEW: Erasing party lines possible

It’s nice to know that for some things, party lines can be erased.

There’s a reason why Elizabeth May has been recognized as one of Canada’s best Members of Parliament.

May, who is also the federal leader of the Green Party, has often been acknowledged by her peers in Ottawa as a great parliamentarian. This, from Liberal, Conservative and NDP members, because as we all know, May is only one of two Green representatives in the House of Commons.

The reason? It’s her relationships with her fellow MPs.

That was proved once again this week when she reached across to the Conservative majority side of the House, relaying a request from one of her constituents. It was Sidney accountant Chris Cowland’s urgent notice of a Canada Revenue Agency communication error on a supposed extension of this year’s tax filing deadline.

The minister responsible for the CRA, Kerry-Lynne Findlay responded quickly and the error corrected — five more days ‘til tax time deadline was upheld.

It was a relatively simple matter, May noted to the PNR this week, and not one she felt needed to be attacked in Ottawa. A copy of Cowland’s email and a handwritten note to her counterpart on the majority side of the aisle was all it took.

May credits that quick result to her work to reduce the amount of partisan politics that can sometimes create rancor at worst, and delays at best. It’s a great way to do business and for May, it’s necessary.

For her to be even heard in the House, she must negotiate speaking time with the dominant parties — in power or in opposition. There’s little she can do but try to work co-operatively with what could be seen as her opponents in Ottawa.

Out of that necessity comes a lesson. While MPs on different sides will argue and debate over their policies and platforms, they should not seek out an opposing stance on matters that appear to have simple fixes — like this CRA error.

Taking responsibility and extending the tax deadline takes care of tax professionals’ worries and even those of ordinary Canadians (have you all got your taxes done yet?).

It is, realistically, hard to imagine such co-operation on major federal policy issues, but it’s nice to know that for some things, party lines can be erased.